No. 1 challenge: Water, waste-waster, stormwater.

Why: Material and supply costs; keeping up with needs of a growing population

Helpful hint: “We've been reducing overtime and increasing staff flexibility by cross-training operators between all of our plants. Our operators are double-certified (water and wastewater) with incentives for getting higher-level licenses.” — Donna Kaluzniak, utility director, Atlantic Beach, Fla.

IN THE EAST

Budget trend: Lowest increase in operations budgets; second-lowest in capital expenditures.

Demographic trend: Though it's been the region of greatest “outmigration” (i.e., residents moving out of state) since at least 1990, Maine, Rhode Island, and Maryland increased in population from 2000 to 2004.

No. 1 challenge: Streets, roads, bridges.

Why: Material and supply costs; board and residents expect more done with less.

Helpful hint: “We're considering having developers who need sewer capacity pay for removing sump pumps and french drains from the sanitary sewer system. Since one sump pump is, on average, the equivalent peak demand of five homes, we'd trade developers one new connection for every sump pump or french drain they disconnect. That puts our sewer system ahead by the equivalent of four houses on each trade, which helps eliminate capacity problems—and the customers don't have to pay for it.” — Dave Hofer, assistant engineer, New Castle County, Del.