The morning of July 20, 2021 beginning at 6:30 a.m. I started receiving texts and phone calls with regard to an article on the front page of the Los Angeles Times that featured the hard work of the RebuildSoCal Partnership (RSCP) to help the small town of Needles deal with a big problem . 

The story explained that Needles, the last wide spot in the road before Interstate 40 crosses the Colorado River into Arizona, was likely to run out of water if the town’s sole well pump broke down. The RSCPhad been trying to help the beleaguered community find grant money to increase its well count and repair the existing equipment.

The article, by Ralph Vartabedian, one of the Times most experienced investigative reporters with over 40 years in the city room, took up the groundwork that RSCP began and corroborated all of the information we gave him about the problem with other sources. For him to take up this fight, he first vetted our organization and he must of liked what he saw to have this article on the front page.

This article created enough interest that our Senators, State Assemblymember, State Senator and San Bernardino County Supervisor have contacted RSCP and Needles to investigate the possibility to expedite funding for drilling a new well.

Positive Exposure

This project is insignificant dollar wise but in my opinion large in the positive exposure of RSCP. It shows the public and the public agencies what we are about, promoting infrastructure in Southern California and educating them at the same time. 

The first text I received was from MWD, the largest purveyor of water in the U.S. requesting a meeting to discuss MWD floating loans to disadvantaged communities like Needles that are eligible for water grants. They also mentioned the possibility of writing grants, completing construction drawings and prequalifying contractors to install the new water systems.

This conversation led to the use of fiber optic not only for communication but seismic analysis, leak detection, pipeline security and a number of other benefits. RSCP investigated other uses of fiber optic with Caltech two years ago (which we reported in this magazine) and now $5.5 billion has recently been approved from the state for fiber optic construction for multiple uses.

I want to thank the Staff and Board Members that worked diligently to make this happen. You can read the article online at //www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-07-20/needlescalifornia-fights-drought-along-colorado-river

By Dave Sorem, P.E. ECA Government Affairs Chairman Email: [email protected]