Launch Slideshow

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PUBLIC WORKS BRIEFS

PUBLIC WORKS BRIEFS

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    Joan Hicken, Philadelphia's new recycling coordinator.

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    EIP Associates

    Water sourcesImported water accounts for 36% of participating agencies' water supplies. Other water supplies mentioned by respondents typically include agricultural surface water.

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    John Moynier

    Even during periods of flooding, local public agencies must maintain stormwater flows in Miners Ravine, a designated salmon habitat, rather than divert it for possible consumptive uses. Though this is not the best-case scenario for communities with a water shortage, California does not have sufficient available storage to capture storm runoff.

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    PGMS

    In 2002, Hollywood, Fla., won in recognition of its well-maintained business district.

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    UDOT

    The Utah DOT used prefabricated concrete panels to replace the deck on its I-80 bridge.

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    Dufresne-Henry

    Boston's redesigned Mission Hill Playground—which won an award from the Boston Society of Landscape Architects—includes handicap-accessible equipment, a basketball court, and a spray pool.

Cycling around

In March, Joan Hicken left the post of recycling coordinator in Glendale, Ariz., for the same position in Philadelphia. She talked about her new position, how the cities contrast, and how to motivate a community to recycle.

On her experience: I worked in Glendale for seven years. The city had no curbside collection program when I started, and we planned and implemented a very comprehensive system. After seven years, it had matured, and I was looking for new opportunities.

On recycling in Philadelphia: They do a lot of good and right things here—it's just a large urban area with a lot of different constituencies. The diversion rate citywide is currently 30%, but the residential diversion rate is only 6%. That's not acceptable—we need to get the residents involved. We have to find a good program people will use.

On recycling's importance to communities: Obviously, there's an environmental component. Also, recycling programs can create jobs in a community. Here, there's also excitement to be getting some revenue from recycling that can offset the costs.

On elements of a successful program: You have to have consistency, and there have been a lot of program changes here. Educational programs in the community are very important. Ease of use is also critical. Alarge portion of the United States wants to recycle, but if it's too complicated, people get discouraged. And sanitation is paid out of taxes here, so we're looking for economic efficiencies.

On her new opportunity: I'm excited to be part of a team implementing a fully integrated waste management system and creating an accessible recycling program. The challenges and opportunities here are endless. —Jason Meyers

California looks to new water sources

Fresh water supplies in the western United States are dwindling, and water utilities are scrambling to find new sources for their residents. Various approaches of finding new water sources have been used, including watershed management, importing water from other sources, and recycled water.

California is no exception. According to a recent survey by EIP Associates, Sacramento, Calif., the state's water agencies and districts rely heavily on imported water and expect the use of recycled water to grow substantially over the next 20 years.

The survey—which polled officials responsible for delivering water to residential, commercial, and agricultural customers throughout the state—showed that 78% of respondents are in the process of or have completed a 2005 Urban Water Management Plan (UWMP). The California Urban Water Management Planning Act requires all urban water suppliers serving more than 3000 customers or providing more than 3000 acre-feet of water annually to develop a UWMP update it every five years and submit it to the Department of Water Resources.

Demand-management programs, which may include public outreach and water conservation incentive rates, are successful, with 70% of respondents implementing them. Only 23% said they place limitations on outdoor usage, and 20% report using geographical information systems in conjunction with water system audits. —Amara Rozgus

Sin City turns to church for water

The Southern Nevada Water Authority has acquired water rights from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints for $7.2 million, helping meet water shortfalls in the Las Vegas area. The 20-year lease lets the agency draw 2001 acre-feet of water a year—enough to serve approximately 4000 homes—with an option for two 10-year extensions. Because the Muddy River empties into Lake Mead and the authority intends to draw water using the reservoir's existing intakes, federal approval will be needed; however, the authority expects to receive approval by the end of next year.