Infrastructure. It is a word often bandied about, but not fully understood. In San Diego’s case, it is a word that will be taking on increasing importance. As an aging city, San Diego will be confronted with increasing demands to renew and repair its infrastructure … and the cost will be significant.

SDG&E wants to spend some $2 billion building a new transmission link to Imperial Valley and upgrading its meters.

The city is warning its citizens that it may be forced to retrofit the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant to meet federal pollution standards. Price tag: over $1 billion. And our aging, leaky sewer and water pipes aren’t getting any younger.

The San Diego County Water Authority has recently adopted a Capital Improvement plan that will cost upwards of $1.8 billion over the next five years just for delivering water to the cities. City infrastructure maintenance costs get added on top of this.

On the transportation front, San Diego has the highest gasoline prices in the state. One of the reasons: scarcity of storage tanks for gasoline. Mass transit isn’t any bargain either – bus and trolley fares are amongst the highest in the state and will likely be increased in coming years.

So while our elected officials talk about pension deficits, the Charger’s new stadium, a cross on a hill and the debating points on a new airport, the really costly and vital energy, water and transportation infrastructure issues are rarely mentioned.

Until today. This is your opportunity to put these important issues on the front burner. If just for the day. How do we get the best bang for the buck? Are some of these infrastructure expenses absolutely necessary? Are there less expensive or more effectively alternatives? Who is keeping a tally of all of the sundry infrastructure investments in the region anyhow?

Or then again, perhaps it’d be more comfortable to put off infrastructure issues until we have a crisis, like so many other cities are wont to do. And we can talk about the Padres pennant race instead.

MICHAEL SHAMES

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