THIS MONTH IN SACRAMENTO – APRIL 2017 NEWSLETTER
The Legislature is well into their Spring “fling” with committee hearings, budget discussions and the occasional fund-raiser.
ASCE supported AB 28 (Frazier D-Oakley) – an urgency measure – that would reinstate California’s participation in the Surface Transportation Project Delivery Pilot Program (later called the NEPA Assignment) is moving quickly. It was approved by the Senate Transportation and Housing Committee with a sunset which was imposed on Asm. Frazier by Senate leaders who fear President Trump may eviscerate NEPA. The sunset means the authority will last only two years.
The Legislatures only civil engineer, Senator Anthony Cannella (R-Ceres) introduced SR 18 to recognize the services bestowed upon the citizens of the State of California by engineers. SR 18 recognized the week of February 19, 2017, to February 25, 2017, as Engineers Week.
Senator Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) is the author of SCA 6 that would lower the vote required to pass a local transportation tax from 2/3 to 55%, if 100 percent of the net revenues from the tax, after collection and administrative expenses, is dedicated to transportation programs and projects. If approved by the Legislature – the measure would be on the ballot for voter approval.
Senator Bill Dodd (D-Davis) is author of SB 252 that would require an applicant for a new well permit in a city or county overlying a critically overdrafted basin, to comply with certain requirements as part of an application for a well permit.
Reappointed to the California Water Commission: Joseph Byrne, Los Angeles, partner at Best Best and Krieger; Armando Quintero, San Rafael, executive director at the UC Merced Sierra Nevada Research Institute.
Delta Stewardship Council released In Pursuit of Progress Toward a Resilient Delta. “The Delta paradox in a nutshell is this: how to provide both water supply reliability and ecosystem health in a system that has been severely altered over time and faces both old and emerging, and compounding challenges. There’s the need to have the right amount of water, at the right temperature, at the right time for various fish species.” In 2016, the state broke ground on several Delta ecosystem restoration projects. California WaterFix issued a final environmental report and entered the permitting stage. The state adopted rules to govern distribution of nearly $3B in coming years, and advanced a strategy for state investment in Delta levees using a computer-based, interactive planning tool.
The Fix Our Roads Coalition has distributed a report by the American Road and Transportation Builders Assn. which evaluated the nation’s bridges, finds “out of the 25,431 bridges in California, 1,388, or 5%, are classified as structurally deficient,” which “means one or more of the key bridge elements, such as the deck, superstructure or substructure, is considered to be in ‘poor’ or worse condition.”
The Legislative Analyst’s Office has released The 2017-18 Budget: Cap-and-Trade, recommends the Legislature enact cap-and-trade program beyond 2020 with a two-thirds urgency vote because “it is likely the most cost-effective approach to achieving the state’s 2030 GHG emissions target,” also recommends that after passing cap-and-trade with a two-thirds vote Legislature should allocate funds to specific programs rather than providing Dept. of Finance with that authority as administration has proposed.
Dept. of Water Resources released a report that analyzed NASA radar satellite maps and found “San Joaquin Valley land continues to sink,” says “two main subsidence bowls covering hundreds of miles grew wider and deeper between spring 2015 and fall 2016,” finds “groundwater pumping causes subsidence” and “damages water infrastructure,” concludes “the situation is untenable.”
CA Institute of Technology. released Progress Report: Subsidence in California. “Subsidence caused by groundwater pumping in the Central Valley has been a problem for decades…. The new Sentenel-1A data show the two known main subsidence bowls in the San Joaquin Valley: The larger is centered on Corcoran and extends 60 miles to the NW (northwest), affecting the California Aqueduct…. [The] maximum total subsidence was found to be 22” near Cocoran. A second bowl is centered on El Nido and is approximately 25 miles in diameter, encompassing most of the East Side Bypass.” Other subsidence locations include Davis and Woodland (2”), Arbuckle (12”), and Sierra Valley, north of Lake Tahoe (6”).
California Dept. of Water Resources released results of its second manual snow survey of water year 2017 from Phillips Station near Echo Summit, finds water content of snow pack at 28.1 inches, or 173 percent of the February 2 average, “a significant increase since the January 3 survey, when just 6 inches was found there.”
The Hamilton Project at Brookings released If You Build It: A Guide to Economics of Infrastructure Investment “[T]his paper seeks to provide an economic framework for evaluating infrastructure investments and their methods of funding and finance. Why should we invest in infrastructure, what projects should be selected, who should decide, and how should those investments be paid for are all questions that can be better answered with the help of sound economic theory and evidence.” This report summarizes factors that determine the economic returns to spending on infrastructure, and describes the way investments increase when interest rates are low.
California Natural Resources Agency, released California Water Action Plan Implementation Report: 2016 Summary of Accomplishments. “Key achievements in 2016 include an infusion of funds to bring to fruition two mandates: sustainability of water supplies and more sophisticated conservation measures. Hundreds of millions of dollars in State bond funds, which will leverage hundreds of millions of dollars in local and federal funds, were disbursed to local water districts and others for water recycling, installation of more efficient irrigation technology on farms, and many other projects. Dozens of habitat restoration projects were funded or launched, including the largest-ever tidal wetlands restoration project in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (Delta). In addition, California supported the implementation of Klamath dam removal through bond funding and amendments to a key multi-party agreement.”
National Conference of State Legislatures released Autonomous/Self-Driving Vehicles Legislation The National Conference of State Legislatures has published a compendium of existing and proposed state legislation touching on autonomous vehicles across the U.S. According to the study: “In 2016, 20 states introduced legislation. Sixteen states introduced legislation in 2015, up from 12 states in 2014, nine states and D.C. in 2013, and six states in 2012. Since 2012, at least 34 states and D.C. have considered legislation related to autonomous vehicles.” The report includes a detailed list of enacted and proposed bills.
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released Best Practices to Consider When Evaluating Water Conservation and Efficiency as an Alternative for Water Supply Expansion “EPA has developed this best practices document to help water utilities and federal and state governments carry out assessments of the potential for future water conservation and efficiency savings to avoid or minimize the need for new water supply development. The document can also be used by a utility or a third party to conduct assessments of how the utility is managing its water resources from a technical, financial, and managerial perspective. The document consists of six major practices, with suggested metrics to guide evaluations of progress. No single metric is intended to serve as a stand-alone test. Instead, the combined information on water conservation and efficiency implementation, with emphasis on planned measures, can inform reviews of a project’s purpose and need, and analysis of alternatives.”
California Energy Commission released Joint Agency Staff Report on Assembly Bill 8: 2016 Assessment of Time and Cost Needed to Attain 100 Hydrogen Refueling Stations in California This report provides updated time and cost assessments for building out California’s hydrogen refueling infrastructure. Compared to the 6 stations that were open when then 2015 report was published, California has built 50 hydrogen refueling stations, and has plans for constructing 50 more. Assuming adequate funding, the report estimates that the 100-station goal should be met by 2024.