Orange County Infrastructure Improving, Though Not Acceptable, New Report From UC Irvine Civil and Environmental Engineering Aff

Annual investment of $4.8B necessary to improve county infrastructure over next 10 years

IRVINE, Calif., Oct. 21, 2005 - UC Irvine’s Civil and Environmental Engineering Affiliates, in partnership with the Orange County branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers, today released its 2005 Orange County Infrastructure Report Card, assigning a cumulative grade of “C+” for the county’s infrastructure. The grade reflects a slight increase since the county was assessed in 2002.

The 2005 Orange County Report Card evaluated the same eight infrastructure categories as in 2002:

Aviation - B
Parks/Recreation/Environment - C
School Facilities - C+
Solid Waste - B+
Transportation - C+
Urban Runoff/Flood Control - C-
Water - B
Wastewater - C+ 

The study was conducted by eight committees of more than 100 volunteers, primarily civil engineers, architects and planners from the public sector, the private sector, and academia. The committees collected data from numerous public agenciesthrough phone interviews and surveys, as well as reviewing existing reports and assigning letter grades to each of the categories based upon four factors: condition, capacity, operations, and security. Complete details, including background, case studies, and methodology can be found at:

“We are pleased to see that measurable improvements have been made since we issued our 2002 report card, rating the county’s overall infrastructure a ‘C’,” said Yazdan Emrani, P.E., co-chair of the OC Report Card Executive Committee and president of the UC Irvine CEE Affiliates.  “However, both above ground and below, Orange County’s aging infrastructure is struggling to meet population demands, threatening to adversely impact our quality of life. Action must be taken now to ensure the continued funding of necessary infrastructure elements.”

“It’s clear that improvements already in effect through the funding of successful bond measures, such as Measure M, have made notable progress in Orange County’s infrastructure,” said Jan Scherfig, Ph.D., co-chair of the OC Report Card Executive Committee and professor emeritus within the department of Civil and Environment Engineering at UC Irvine.  “Nevertheless, our work is not done - our schools need to be retrofitted, urban run-off remains a problem, sewers are at risk of overload, and county parks are degrading at a rapid pace.

“Given current population growth estimates of approximately 25,000 people moving to Orange County every year, annual funding expenditures must increase to $4.8B in order to reach an acceptable level or a grade of ‘B’,” Scherfig concluded.

Grading Our Public Works

Aviation - The aviation demand in Orange County will grow to about 37 million passengers by 2025. With conversion of the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station to non-aviation facilities, the legal capacity limit for John Wayne Airport will stay at 10.8 million passengers.  Therefore, our challenge is to utilize other multi-modal solutions such as high speed rail transportation to other regional airports.

Parks/Recreation/Environment - The growing population is placing increasing demands on our parks, natural forests, and beaches. Inadequate funding has resulted in significant degradation of parks and facilities. This makes funding the number one challenge to PR&E when there is a competitive rivalry for dollars and resources with other mandated functions of government.

School Facilities - School facilities are beginning to reflect the positive effects of the recent bond issues. The increases in enrollment appear to be leveling off, somewhat easing the capacity crunch. Deferred maintenance and upgrading of older schools continue to be a major problem.

Solid Waste - The system is operated by a combination of private (collection and transfer) and county (landfills). Modern recycling is resulting in a 50 percent reduction in solid waste delivered to its landfills. Advanced planning is underway to extend landfill capacity through 2045.

Transportation - Orange County has achieved high standards for transportation system maintenance and improvements through Measure M.  Additional progress will require high levels of investment.  To continue maintaining and improving our transportation system, we need the reauthorization of Measure M.

Urban Runoff/Flood Control - A regional, watershed-based integrated planning and funding effort continues to be the policy direction that is needed to improve our flood control management, water quality, and ecosystem goals. A dedicated funding source for watershed based programs is critical.

Water - Orange County’s 7,900 miles of water mains and 300 potable water storage tanks will deteriorate and fail at an increasing rate. Water agencies should continue to address proactive maintenance and repairs, including corrosion prevention and seismic upgrades.

Wastewater - In 2005, more cities are using special districts’ enterprise funding models and many more now have revenues dedicated to the single purpose of funding their sewer collection systems. Continued and consistent investments are required to meet the standards required by federal and state regulations.

The CEE Affiliates, a group of approximately 30 public and private entities, supports research on civil infrastructure systems conducted by the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering in The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine. Members include the California Department of Transportation, Irvine Water District and the Orange County Sanitation District, among others.  For a complete list of members, please visit:

The Henry Samueli School of Engineering at UC Irvine is one of the nation's fastest growing engineering schools, attracting talented engineering faculty and students from across the nation and abroad. The School consists of five departments: biomedical engineering, chemical engineering and materials science, civil and environmental engineering, electrical engineering and computer science, and mechanical and aerospace engineering. The school is home to numerous research centers, including the Integrated Nanosystems Research Facility, the National Fuel Cell Research Center, the Center for Embedded Computer System, and the Center for Pervasive Communications and Computing. Additionally, it is a major participant in the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, Calit2. Further, more than a third of the School’s 102 faculty members are fellows in professional societies and seven have been elected into the National Academy of Engineering. For more information, please visit

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