California’s Aging Water Infrastructure

2015 ACEC Infrastructure Discussion paperMillions of gallons of water are wasted every year through water line breaks in local cities and counties throughout California. The water agencies who own and maintain these various water delivery systems cannot keep up with the deferred maintenance of these aging systems, some of which are over 100 years old. Potentially the easiest solution for water agencies would be to raise their rates to consumers in order to fund much needed maintenance. But too often utilities and elected officials struggle to find the political will to raise water rates to proactively repair and replace aging pipes. Continue reading

Sacramento Engineers making a Difference in Kenya


Stacy Zdunkiewicz Legislative & Programs Coordinator ACEC California

Local engineering firms, along with representatives from Caltrans, the Department of Water Resources, Placer County Water Agency and Indian Health Service have recently made a difference in the lives of hundreds in the East Kanyamamba community in the Migori District of the Nyanza Province of Kenya. The team recently completed fresh water projects for the local people that reside there. The East Kanyamaba community has been historically affected by a lack of clean water, decreasing staple crop yields during periodic drought, and very limited healthcare access.

The project was organized by the Sacramento Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders (EWB), a nonprofit humanitarian organization established to support community-driven development programs worldwide through partnerships that event404855design and implement sustainable engineering projects. This chapter in particular, is comprised of professional engineers from different backgrounds of public agencies and private consulting firms. The goal of Engineers Without Borders is to work with the local communities and organizations in developing countries around the world on projects such as water, renewable energy, sanitation and many others.


How the locals used to get water from the natural springs using sugar cane shoots as spouts.

A few nights ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Sacramento Professional Chapter of Engineers Without Borders’ 2nd Annual Fundraiser and Silent Auction where I listened to a presentation about a recently finished and successful project in Kenya. This event was sponsored by a few ACEC California members such as Kimley-Horn, GEI Consultants, and West Yost Associates.

spring box

One of the spring boxes under construction.

The East Kanyamamba Project or the “KEK Project” as it is commonly known, was first started with an assessment trip with a plan set in motion for improving the communities’ access to clean water through the protection of wells and the construction of spring boxes.


One of the completed ferrocement tanks.

Before the project team came to the community, residents would collect their drinking water from natural springs or nearby creeks that were left unprotected from contamination due to humans, animal waste and storm runoff. Residents who drank this water were suffering from water-born diseases, i.e. cholera, hepatitis and diarrhea. In September 2015 the project was completed. The KEK team had built, along with the help of the local community –

  • Two ferrocement tanks (one held 2,200 gallons of water and the other held 1,700 gallons of water)
  • Four faucets at each location and related piping
  • Overflow troughs for animals and clothes washing
  • Three spring boxes at the sites of prominent natural springs
ewb team

The EWB team with members of the Community Development Committee.

ACEC California is proud of their members’ involvement in non-profit work, both locally and internationally.

The Sacramento Valley Professional Chapter of Engineers without Borders was founded in January of 2005. Their mission is to establish a community in Sacramento that looks to further the ideals of Engineers Without Borders. If you would like to get involved, learn more about these projects or donate please visit their website, here.

ACEC California Welcomes New President

The American Council of Engineering Companies of California (ACEC California) is proud to announce Bruce Presser as President of ACEC California for fiscal year July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016.

a06f7-presserBruce has been Chief Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer of The Covello Group, Inc., located in Walnut Creek, California, since January 2005 and serves as its Principal.

He has worked in the engineering profession with an emphasis in construction since 1980 and is a registered Civil Engineer. He has a Bachelor of Science in Civil Engineering from Bradley University, Peoria, Illinois.

Bruce has managed and performed constructability reviews, designed public facilities, developed standard front-end specifications, prepared and reviewed construction schedules, served as a construction/project manager and has provided dispute resolution services on various projects including wastewater treatment plants, recycled water facilities, pipelines, buildings, roads and bridges.

You may remember Bruce’s article titled “Recycled Water a Potential Solution to California’s Water Woes” from August.

Bruce met his wife, Trudy, also a civil engineer, on a construction project in 1981.  They have two daughters, one of whom – yes! – is also a civil engineer.

Bruce loves the outdoors and the environment and is an avid biker, skier and hiker. Please join us in welcoming Bruce to this leadership role!

Three Ways to Save Water Now

By Nancy Vogel

indoor water use reduction[1]Nobody knows how much rain and snow will reach California next autumn. A fourth consecutive year of drought is just as likely as a return to regular winter storms.

The people who manage California’s water systems must assume that next year will be dry, too, or they invite unmitigated disaster.

California survives on the water it saves. In a state that must store the runoff of wet years in order to get through the dry years, there is never enough water to waste.

If everybody in California did three things to save water, we’d collectively stretch supplies.

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Ensuring a Reliable Water Supply for the Future

Jeff Walker Principal Kleinfelder

Jeff Walker

If we’ve been even remotely conscious of our surroundings, we’ve heard or seen headlines such as these: “California Governor Declares Drought Emergency”, Wall Street Journal, January 17, 2014; “17 California Communities Could Run Out of Water Soon,” Associated Press, January 29, 2014; “Meager Snowpack Bad News for Drought-Plagued California” – USA Today, April 2, 2014.

Our reactions to these types of headlines vary, influenced by where we live, our occupation, our political affiliation, and many other variables. We take for granted the needs of our state’s 38 million residents for a reliable source of clean potable water. Some lament the quantity of water used in our agricultural economy, yet complain when the price of fruit or produce goes up. Others laugh when they read about millions of salmon smolts being moved from streams to the ocean in trucks to bypass streams that are both too low and too warm to allow effective natural migration.

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Finding the Balance Between Infrastructure and Habitat Protection

Jane Rozga Project Manager CH2M HILL

Jane Rozga
Project Manager

ACEC members are trained to seek creative solutions to problems. We are proud to help clients achieve their vision and thrive when we have the opportunity to bring a vague concept into focus. Some of the toughest challenges we tackle today require balancing human needs for infrastructure with a heart-felt desire to preserve natural habitat.

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Functional Levees an Essential Piece to California’s Water Puzzle

Mark Seits Water Resources Program Manger HDR

Mark Seits
Water Resources Program Manger

Even with all the recent focus on issues with the Delta, I would expect a large majority of people living in California have no idea how levees impact their lives. Most may understand that levees are typically engineered and designed to provide flood protection for homes, businesses, and agriculture, but they may not realize they can also be used to convey or store water for domestic use, recharge, treatment, etc. In some cases, such as in the Delta, they play a pivotal role in securing a reliable supply of water by protecting the water from possible contamination (such as salt water intrusion).

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Recycled Water a Potential Solution to California’s Water Woes

Bruce Presser Principal, CEO/CFO The Covello Group

Bruce Presser
Principal, CEO/CFO
The Covello Group

On April 1st, the California Department of Water Resources conducted their snowpack survey which determined we are only at 32 percent of average. This was no April Fool’s joke; only providing more evidence that California is in the midst of its worst multi-year drought since the mid-70’s.  Studies have shown that California has had extended drought periods throughout history; water has always been a concern to those living here.  Now couple that with the numerous demands on the current water supply; urban, industry and agriculture and geographical splits; North versus South.  It becomes clear why not one single idea works in solving the State’s water woes.

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