“Got something to say?”

If you've got an opinion about something you've read in PUBLIC WORKS, send your comments to edit@pwmag.com.yfvdfdzdrbywwacuw Include your name, title, and organization/company. Letters may be edited for clarity and length.

In response to “20 questions about sustainability,” (October 2010, page 7):

I've spent most of my career working to protect human health and the environment, and I can tell you the average person is nearly clueless as to how water and wastewater systems function.

I've had to confront engineers who've designed poor facilities and criticize local officials for approving unacceptable designs.

People are afraid of change. Education helps, but for many, it's easier to remain stagnant than learn something new and keep moving forward.

— Scott R. Jamison, public service director, Village of Galena, Ohio

In response to “10 reasons you should be getting fan mail,” (December 2010, page 7):

Thank you for congratulating all of our efforts.

Every agency I've worked for during the last 25 years had very few projects or people who fit the negative image portrayed by the media when speculating about what's wrong with government. The vast majority of employees are committed to doing the very best for their community.

Of course, there are always exceptions to every rule. These few instances feed the vocal minority who prefer to emphasize the bad instead of acknowledging the many things we do well — often in innovative and exceptional ways — every day.

That's why I'm sending this “petition of thanks” signed by 94 residents for whom we secured $2.6 million in stimulus funding for road and sidewalk improvements: It supports my belief that the silent majority very much appreciates what we do.

It's not every day an entire neighborhood takes the time to acknowledge our work. In addition to being a keeper for the bulletin board, knowing that such genuinely nice people are out there keeps us going.

— David Fern, PE., MPM, public works director, Apache Junction, Ariz.

Editor's note: Although we decided against publishing the lengthy list of signatures, the body of the letter is in quotes below:

“Thank you so much for paving Ironwood Road in front of our [RV] resort. We especially appreciate the pavement at the corner of 28th Avenue and the walkway from 28th Avenue to Southern Avenue. These improvements have greatly contributed to the safety of our residents.”

In response to “Breaking down Obama's $556 billion infrastructure plan,” (Feb. 16, 2011, e-newsletter editorial):

As I read your brief comments on the subject, I realized that this budget (if passed) could create the opportunity for some innovative and sustainable changes in the way our county manages its infrastructure. It seems to reflect Churchill's philosophy that “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”

Thanks for the words of wisdom.

— Dennis Wilson, PE, engineer, Sarpy County, Neb.

Our industry needs to lead the way for communities to invest in innovative solutions to quantity and quality challenges. The use of innovative technologies such as advanced metering systems to help detect and stop losses of treated water, water reuse, and desalination will help maximize the nation's supply of this finite resource.

But these projects, as well as upgrading the country's deteriorating water and wastewater infrastructure, cannot solely rely on government funding and taxpayer dollars. The burden of these efforts, which falls mostly on the public sector, can be reduced if private investment is more widely pursued as an essential part of the solution.

To further enable such partnerships, we support the passage of the Sustainable Water Infrastructure Investment Act in the 112th Congress. This legislation would lift state volume caps for water and wastewater projects, enabling local governments to tap into much-needed private-sector capital.

— Jeff Sterba, president and CEO, American Water

It's nice to read a fair, thoughtful assessment of the picture. I believe the president is really trying to do the right thing.

— Dick Reynolds, PE, DGE, Boston


Didn't read the Feb 16. PUBLIC WORKS Update? To access our previous e-newsletters, click here.