Declining infrastructure

The spill of 20 million gallons of water because of a water main break was an unusual situation, considering that California is experiencing one of the worst droughts in its history. At the same time, it serves to remind Mayor Eric Garcetti that he needs to tackle the job of overhauling the declining infrastructure of Los Angeles.

The water main that burst this week on a street near UCLA is part of a system that is about 100 years old. These types of breaks have occurred as years go by, like it happened in 2009 in the San Fernando Valley.

Replacing the water main system, according to estimates from Councilman Paul Koretz, would cost $4 billion, take a decade and require an annual increase of 4% in the water rate.

To this expensive prospect, we must add other serious problems that the municipal infrastructure has, like broken sidewalks—the reason for a lawsuit against the city—and damaged streets, a quarter of which are in very poor condition.

This poses a serious dilemma for Garcetti, who wants to be a mayor who fixes problems, improving the quality of life of Angelenos. The issue is where to get the money to overhaul the infrastructure.

The water main situation is an example of the challenges. To make a massive repair, the city would need to increase rates for the service at a time people do not want to pay more, especially to the Department of Water and Power, which is still facing serious controversies.

Our city needs to make repairs. Postponing them means higher costs and can be dangerous. Also, it is not right to pass on the responsibility to future generations. It is a matter of priorities that must be defined.