In July, there was good news for California infrastructure contractors as Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law AB1252. The bill expedites the release of $300 million to voter-passed Proposition 1C and Proposition 1B bond projects. This money goes to important infrastructure and housing projects already awarded in the fiscal year 2007–2008 budget.
At the signing ceremony in Sacramento, Governor Schwarzenegger said, "This expedited funding will stimulate our economy, create thousands of jobs and help workers in the construction industry who have been hit especially hard by the mortgage crisis and housing slowdown." He added, "We are not waiting for the economy to pick up — we are taking action to keep California's economy growing, to keep people working and to keep rebuilding our great state."
AB 1252 expedites the following amounts to the Proposition 1C and Proposition 1B bond funds to augment specified appropriations in the 2007–2008 budget:
- $100 million to augment the Regional Planning, Housing and Infill Incentive Account, 19 new projects;
- $50 million to augment the Transit-Oriented Development Account, five new projects;
- $87 million to augment the county portion of the Local Streets and Roads Program; and
- $63 million to augment the Grade-Separation program
An Orange County Court has surprised construction industry representatives by issuing a peremptory writ of mandate, effectively stopping the State Water Resources Control Board and The California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region, from enforcing new strict water runoff rules at construction sites. These included a six month construction ban during "wet seasons."
The Construction Industry Coalition on Water Quality (CIAWQ) has summarized the proposed regs:
Revised General Construction Permit for Storm Water Discharges
- The Revised General Construction Permit requires you to do a complicated construction site risk analysis to determine which Best Management Practices (BMPs) you will have to use. You'll have to hire a consultant to prepare the analysis and prepare your Storm Water Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP).
- The Revised Permit requires most site operators to take water samples during rainfall events that produce more than a half inch of rain and test the water for turbidity and pH. If you are a "medium" or "high" risk site, you will have to sample the water at the discharge point into a stream or municipal storm drain system.
- The Revised Permit forces site operators to comply with a "numeric effluent limit" for turbidity. If you exceed the number, then you will be fined $32,500 per day for every day you exceed the number.
- The Revised Permit forces you to re-do your SWPPP if you prepared it under the current system, and depending upon your location in California, you may have to re-engineer your project to comply with new post-construction runoff-handling standards.
- The Revised Permit allows the public to protest the contents of your SWPPP after you've received a Waste Discharge Identification (WDID) number from the state and started installing your BMPs and working on your site. Also, the Regional Board can disagree with your site risk analysis, and force you to re-do your SWPPP and install more or different BMPs, even after you've started your project.
The cities of Arcadia, Bellflower, Carson, Cerritos, Claremont, Commerce, Downey, Duarte, Gardena, Glendora, Hawaiian Gardens, Irwindale, Lawndale, Monterey Park, Paramount, Santa Fe Springs, Signal Hill, Vernon, Walnut, West Covina, Whittier, and the Building Industry Legal Defense Foundation joined the case against the State Water Resources Control Board and The California Regional Water Quality Control Board, Los Angeles Region, which includes the Ventura Board, according to CIAWQ.
The state will undoubtedly readdress its perceived need for these strict water runoff regulations.