Cities likely to see finances decline

According to a study by the National League of Cities, U.S. municipalities will most likely see their financial resources drop in 2008. While most cities are better able to meet their fiscal needs this year than they were last year, decreasing revenue and increased spending pressure will cut into budgets. Also, officials of Mid-western cities were less likely to claim their cities were better off in 2007 than were officials in the South, Northeast, and West. To view the full report, visit www.nlc.org.

Private hauler “greens” fleet

Houston-based Waste Management Inc.—the highest-grossing solid waste company in the country—is pledging to spend as much as $500 million over the next decade to boost the fuel efficiency of its fleet by 15%. The firm also plans to reduce fleet emissions by 15% by 2020. Other plans include stepping up waste-to-energy efforts, increasing the amount of recyclables it handles, and setting aside land for conservation and wildlife habitats.

U.S. signals improve—slightly

The 2007 Traffic Signal Report Card, issued by the National Transportation Operations Coalition, has given the nation's traffic signals a grade of “D.” The designation constitutes a slight improvement over the “D-” given two years ago. According to the report, if U.S. households pitch in as little as $3 a year, the investments will greatly improve commuter times, air quality, and fuel efficiency. View the full report at www.ite.org/reportcard.

California water reuse applauded

In one of the U.S. regions hardest hit by water shortages, one city is being saluted for its advancement of smart water reuse practices.

Redwood City, Calif., received the Large Project of the Year Award from the Wate-Reuse Assocation, a group that champions water recycling. The city's $80 million effort involved retrofitting a number of customer sites to convert from potable to recycled water, and in planning, design, and constructing new disinfection, storage, and distribution within the water system.

Phase I of the recycled water project went active late June, with positive results. Local engineering and environmental design firm Kennedy/Jenks Consultants helped with planning and design support; the South Bayside System Authority (serving Redwood and other cities located in southern San Mateo County) and a number of other consultants also provided assistance.

Gore, U.N. panel share nobel prize

Apparently when the editors of PUBLIC WORKS named Al Gore one of 2006's Trendsetters, others agreed: On Oct. 12, the former vice president and U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change jointly received the 2007 Nobel Peace for their work in spreading awareness of climate change. Gore's Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth, and the group's push for “greener” practices around the globe, are a big reason you're being pressed to use biodiesel in your fleets, reduce your facilities' energy consumption, and step up recycling in your communities. To see who's succeeded Gore on the 2007 Trendsetters list, turn to page 30.