Investing in California’s Future
The increasing severity of drought conditions in the West shines a spotlight on the health of our water infrastructure and supply, and highlights our need to confront this new normal by investing wisely and embracing new technology.
At Cal Water, we work relentlessly on the reliability of our water supply, both now and in the future, so our customers don’t have to worry when they reach for the faucet. We are focused on keeping our promise of delivering safe, clean, affordable water, and reassuring our customers that their water is indeed, there when they need it.
We know that building and maintaining infrastructure is critical to supporting our communities across California. Our state’s water infrastructure needs are ranked among the highest in the nation. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that California needs more than $50 billion to fund improved drinking water transmission, water treatment, and water storage over the next 20 years.
The consequences of neglecting infrastructure needs, especially when it comes to water, cannot be overstated. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers, every two minutes there is a water main break in the United States, resulting in the daily loss of 6 billion gallons of treated water—a resource we can hardly afford to waste.
That’s why, every year, we spend millions of dollars on maintaining and replacing aging infrastructure or building new infrastructure to keep high-quality water flowing for those we serve. These projects are essential to providing safe, clean water.
We recently proposed investing more than $1 billion in our systems over the next three years. More than half of our proposed infrastructure improvements will replace aging water pipelines, which will enhance reliability and water supplies to support the needs of our customers and hard-working firefighters as they grapple with another already devastating wildfire season. With temperatures rising, we’re ensuring our systems can handle the heat, with planned upgrades to withstand rolling power outages and Public Safety Power Shutoff events.
We don’t cut corners when it comes to protecting the health and safety of those we serve, and our investments reflect that. We utilize the best technology available to protect our customers. At our certified, state-of-the-art lab, our team of water quality experts averages more than 1,000 tests per day to ensure safe, clean drinking water and that our water meets or surpasses all federal and state water quality standards. Our proactive upgrades will continue to allow us to deliver on this commitment, and protect our customers from known and future water contaminants.
These investments also prepare us as we continue to face unprecedented drought conditions. In 2015, we were proud of our efforts to respond to the drought and mandated water reductions. In fact, in an analysis of California’s drought data, Professor Manny Teodoro found that the state’s regulated utilities adopted more aggressive conservation measures and “conserved significantly more water than did local government utilities during the crisis.”
As we enter the height of the summer months, we’ve developed strategies to expand water supplies to ensure they’re sustainable. Our investments will help us minimize water loss and expand water supplies to ensure sustainability and wildfire hardening, as we work to ensure our water supply sources remain reliable now and in the future.
In addition to our long-term efforts to reduce water use, we continue to partner with our customers to conserve water through incentive programs, rebates, and educational opportunities. Conservation and effective management of our water resources are the most cost-effective ways to preserve water supplies. Expanding our conservation program will not only help through drought years but also for decades to come.
The list of challenges California collectively faces is not small. But together with our customers, Cal Water is meeting these challenges head-on. We are committed to continuing to keep water affordable for customers and ensuring their water supply is safe, clean, and reliable, both now and for decades to come.
—By Martin A. Kropelnicki