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  • Ren Gudino

Failing Infrastructure Begs for Renewal

Three million gallons of sewage poured into the creeks, neighborhoods, and roads of the San Francisco bay, giving new meaning to being "full of it." California's roads and sewage system are far from the only infrastructure issue in the United States. Public transit systems have been evaluated to show that 1 in 5 are in poor condition. Our nation's drinking water systems lose enough water to fill 9,000 swimming pools, and the electrical grid is so vulnerable we've had 638 outages in the last four years. With these much more recent detrimental issues, we can't even begin to discuss how our nation's bridges were built before man walked on the moon or even before average Americans got to watch television in color.

These issues aren't just passively discussed—they are happening right now. Let's get into San Francisco, where 3 million gallons of sewage flood the city, damaging surrounding waterways and spreading disease. Roads that have been sitting underwater for weeks are crumbling at their base. A state of emergency was called, and emergency funds were utilized, yet the long-overdue rebuilding of this sewage system still causes hesitation thanks to its $600 million price tag. I had initially intended to discuss Kansas City's exploding transformer last month during their winter storm, only to learn that this happened just two days ago in New Hampshire. It's hard not to get suspicious when overworked

transformers continue to fail: either there isn't anyone qualified to properly maintain them, or there's no one to see if they're up to code. An obvious solution would be to divert less energy toward these transformers: integrate different forms of energy, the way the Infrastructure Bill suggests and will fund, thanks to its budget for clean energy, which comes none-to-late, seeing as it's the third electrical grid issue in two years. Remember the failed power grid in Texas during the winter of 2021, where 250 deaths were falsely blamed on wind turbines rather than a lack of regulation thanks to decisions made in 1935 (The New Yorker). Instead of investing 200 million to winterize, attention was diverted elsewhere.

There IS hope. Thanks to the Infrastructure Bill, more funds are being allocated for the San Francisco Bay area's rebuilding. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law earmarked $50 million for stormwater infrastructure, adding to the "over $8 billion state lawmakers approved last summer to modernize water infrastructure and management." The bill states that any projects covered by this funding must also follow the Davis-Beacon requirements, giving good pay and benefits to the construction workers dedicated to these projects. The electrical grid issues are more than just about capacity: utility systems must build a combination of energy resources, utilizing renewable options and decreasing dependency on natural gas. These projects are underway, however, "in limbo" (Governing) as states try to increase staff and balance the workload of starting such large projects.

Regarding our drinking water, "The Environmental Protection Agency is also helping communities adhere to new lead and copper rules and to build inventories of lead service lines, which are due by October 2024." States are working on covering as much as they can. However, lines on private property will still need to be redone by the landowner. Maybe a neighborhood society or local government can pitch for some of the $15 billion allocated toward this endeavor, easing the weight off of the individual and ensuring a better water system for everyone involved.

The projects and the funding are there. Local government is currently struggling with issues of overwork and understaffing. Though funding and grants cover the cost of labor for these projects, hoarding resources is a common coping mechanism in times of turmoil. Hopefully, this won't continue to be delayed much longer. When the nation thrives with a brand new water system, efficient and varietal energy resources, and improved roadways, we'll be here, pointing the way in Clearview or Highway Gothic on your state's specific sign requirements.


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