San Francisco at 1 million: Can utilities handle population boom?
Every major aspect of San Francisco is set to feel daunting strain due to a sustained population surge, but here’s some relief: The City’s utility infrastructure is ostensibly prepared to shoulder the burden, officials say.
Despite the 35 percent population growth rate between 2010 and 2040 predicted in an upcoming report from the Association of Bay Area Governments, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission appears confident that it can utilize enough conservation techniques to keep water demand flat for 20 to 25 years. The report predicts the roughly 825,000 current population will balloon to 1 million by about 2032, and that the Bay Area will increase from 7.2 million people to 9.3 million by 2040.
Electric and gas lines are already being replaced, mostly within the eastern half of The City, where PG&E has pledged up to $1.5 billion to upgrade transmission lines and replace old natural gas pipelines with plastic in some cases to better handle earthquakes.
The City also possesses one of the best and most reliable water systems, with its source from Sierra Nevada snowmelt at Yosemite National Park. Total residential water usage has been dropping as the population has started to increase. San Franciscans used an average of 57 gallons per person per day in 2004 compared to 51 gallons in 2011, according to SFPUC monthly sales data.
Still, more people means total usage could creep up in the future and create an increased need to conserve.
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