Excessive heat is straining all kinds of critical infrastructure

In the era of global warming and climate change,  prolonged or repetitive heat spells take a toll on our aging infrastructure in way most of us don't think about. Extreme heat is becoming an increasing issue as it relates to old infrastructure and how to build the new.

Urban areas, due to high concentrations of buildings, parking lots and roadways, become so-called heat islands; places that retain heat even over night, potentially making the next day's heat up quicker and hotter. That results in Increased energy use, impaired water quality, higher air pollutants and greenhouse gases. 

Consider reservoirs. On a typical summer day, Lake Shasta, California's largest reservoir, loses 200 million gallons of water a day to evaporation; enough to fill 22 thousand full size gasoline trucks made even bigger by extreme heat. What about San Pablo Reservoir? , "We estimate it to be about 4 million gallon a day evaporate at San Pablo Reservoir," said Andrea Pook of the East Bay Municipal Water District-- That's 444 tanker trucks full every day. Smaller Lafayette Reservoir, a emergency water supply, loses 50 trucks full every day. We are seeing more increase over time at our reservoirs," said Ms. Pook. Big picture: smaller snow packs mean less water for reservoirs and wildlife and far less cheap hydroelectricity.
Residential swimming pools see a loss of  2 to 4 inches of water per week.  Normal sized pools lose 25,000 to 50,000 gallons of water per year to evaporation plus an equal amount lost from a typical yard.

Consider highways. Typical extreme heat impacts to paved surfaces include expansion of pavement and bridge joints as well as the softening of older asphalt and other materials sometimes resulting in disruptive and costly buckling. Extreme heat especially for long extreme heat can have an effect "on our roadways and infrastructure," said Caltrans Spokesman Bart Ney. Biggest problem: old asphalt, not made to stronger modern formulas. "They can buckle or crack, especially if you go through a heating event and it cools off very quickly then you can have cracking happen," said Mr. Ney.

And, extreme heat can soften and warp rail systems causing trains to slow down by half a hour over a 70 mile track.