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July 2012
Subscribe to Your Water – Metropolitan's E–Newsletter.

Essential Infrastructure Investments

MWD's Aqueduct newsletter circa 1930

For more than 70 years, the Metropolitan Water District has delivered safe and reliable water to consumers and businesses throughout its six-county service area. That service has been and continues to be an essential and great value. However, like many basic services today, Metropolitan's costs are increasing for a number of reasons. One of the biggest is the constant need to repair and upgrade systems to ensure reliable water supplies.

Metropolitan's infrastructure is aging. The Colorado River Aqueduct was completed in 1939 and the Weymouth Treatment plant in 1941. Today, more than 40 percent of the district's imported water system is more than 60 years old.

Early construction workers on the CRA

The age and wear of Metropolitan's facilities has compelled the district to shift more of its capital spending into infrastructure maintenance. In fiscal year 1998/99, the district spent $30 million - 5 percent of that year's total capital expenditures – on the reliability of its existing infrastructure. The other 95 percent of our capital program was spent on growth-related or water quality projects. In comparison, over the next two years, the district will spend more than $280 million – over half of our total capital expenditures – on refurbishment and replacement. Metropolitan has increased its annual infrastructure reliability expenditures gradually, rather than relying on sudden spikes over a few years. Over the next two years, Metropolitan's total Capital Investment Plan is expected to be $552 million.

Inland Feeder Project

A report by the American Water Works Association earlier this year supports Metropolitan's course of action. The report – Buried No Longer: Confronting America's Water Infrastructure Challenge – concluded that the cost of repairing and expanding the nation's drinking water infrastructure will top $1 trillion in the next 25 years. Furthermore, the AWWA report confirms that maintaining a current water system is far less expensive than allowing aging infrastructure to deteriorate and jeopardize water quality and reliability.

Metropolitan is working to keep ahead of the curve of crumbling national infrastructure by systematically targeting improvements throughout its system which includes the Colorado River Aqueduct – over 800 miles of pipelines with diameters up to 20 feet; five water treatment plants with a total capacity of 2.5 billion gallons per day; 16 hydropower plants and nine reservoirs, including Diamond Valley Lake, the Southland's largest reservoir. These assets have a replacement value of approximately $15 billion.

Maintenance and repairs during CRA shutdown

Like anything more than seven decades old, the 242-mile aqueduct requires frequent checkups and attention. Just last spring, the aqueduct was shut down for three weeks for repairs and maintenance. Expansion joints and other parts fall victim to everything from wear and tear to extreme temperature changes. Last year’s shutdown was part of a staged, 13-year overhaul of the aqueduct.

Colorado River Aqueduct

Since 2003, Metropolitan has invested more than $125 million to rehabilitate, refurbish and update the aqueduct's conveyance system, electrical and power components, pumping plants and regulatory compliance projects. That investment is expected to double by 2016. Over the last eight years, Metropolitan has shut down the aqueduct more than a dozen times, totaling roughly eight months of work. During those shutdowns, crews have rehabilitated 63 miles of concrete canal, installed large pieces of electrical equipment, and overhauled the five aqueduct pumping plants.

Tunnel repair

During the most recent shutdown, the district scoured 50 miles of tunnels and siphons to remove debris and increase pumping capacity by millions of gallons per day. It also installed electrical switches to limit the impact of any electrical outages, and sealed dozens of cracks in underground siphons.

The infrastructure rehabilitation work completed on the Colorado River Aqueduct will help ensure water reliability for the 19 million Southern Californians living in Metropolitan's service area. Our investments in maintaining our essential infrastructure will continue to directly enhance water quality and reliability for the people, businesses and economy of the region for future generations.

In Other News…
Los Angeles Times business columnist Michael Hiltzik visited Metropolitan's Colorado River Aqueduct during its spring shutdown for repairs and upgrades. Read what Hiltzik had to say about the necessary cost of replacing and fixing Metropolitan's aging infracture to provide Southern California with a reliable imported water supply. Click here to read his story.


This newsletter is produced by:
The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
700 N. Alameda St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012