EPA issues final lead/copper rule

The final revisions the U.S. EPA Lead and Copper Rule include more openness about drinking water quality. One, drinking water agencies are now required to lay out the lead issue in their annual consumer confidence reports. Also, customers served by taps used in sampling should have access to test results. Finally, the new rule decrees that, in cases where lead action levels are exceeded, utilities and health departments should work together in public communication efforts. Visit www.epa.gov to learn more.

La. recycler gets the word out

The East Baton Rouge Recycling Office (which serves more than 120,000 residences) garnered the 2007 Beth Brown Boettner Award for Outstanding Public Education. Given by the National Recycling Coalition, the honor salutes agencies that have shown innovation and leadership in public education. Since the department revamped its recycling program in July 2006, introducing single-stream recycling, the amount collected curbside has increased by more than 30%. In addition, the streamlined process has cut household rates by more than $1/month.

DOT targets high-congestion interstates

The U.S. DOT has pinpointed six major interstate routes in its initiative to reduce congestion through multistate corridors. The chosen roads include: I-95, from Florida to the Canadian border (which will receive $21.8 billion); I-70 in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio ($5 million); I-15 in Arizona, Utah, Nevada, and California ($15 million); I-5 in California, Oregon, and Washington ($15 million); I-10 from California to Florida ($8.6 million); and I-69 from Texas to Michigan ($800,000). Proposal concepts range from building new road segments to adding bypasses to integrating real-time traffic management technologies.

Tips on rights of way

Accessible Public Rights of Way: Planning and Designing for Alterations lays out how you can tackle street and sidewalk projects without losing accessibility. The publication shares intelligent planning strategies, current regulations, design aspects, and case studies. The guidelines were developed by the U.S. Access Board, and published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers. To obtain a copy, visit www.access-board.gov.

“Nowhere” bridge hits a dead end

It's official: The state of Alaska is abandoning plans for a $398 million bridge connecting Ketchikan to sparsely populated Gravina Island, a.k.a. “the Bridge to Nowhere.” Highly criticized as an egregious example of federal pork-barrel spending, the project was pushed through Congress by U.S. Representatives Ted Stevens and Don Young (both Alaska Republicans). The state's governor, Sarah Palin, has directed the state to seek a fiscally responsible alternative to a new bridge (most likely, upgrading the current ferry system).

Water scam cheats Calif. customers

Half a dozen Spanish-speaking families in Gilroy, Calif., claim that a door-to-door salesman duped them into $5000 contracts for water-treatment equipment. Problem is, they were qualified to receive the equipment for free from Santa Clara County. According to the families, a Spanish-speaking representative from Investment on Financial Capital Inc., Sun Valley, told them the water-softening systems would be installed free of charge. He had them sign contracts typed in English, which many could not read, and did not give them copies. They later received bills, plus 18% monthly interest. One family filed a fraud claim earlier this year; another received a refund after threatening to take the matter to the media.