The better residents understand the dangers of floods, the less likely they are to risk injury and death the way the driver of this vehicle did. Photo: Johnny Barron

In response to our September "Swept away" cover story:

As public works continues to minimize the impact of nature, people forget the dangers.

Modern vehicles are so comfortable that drivers think they're invincible. I've seen people driving into a flooded intersection, putting themselves and their passengers at risk, evidently expecting the vehicle to do a James Bond-type conversion into a boat to get across.

As in many areas of the country, we have zones where many of the original homeowners saw how the area flooded before a levee was installed. Those people were well aware of the hazard when they moved in. But as time passes with no flooding, subsequent owners just see the disclosure on the real estate agreement and/or buy flood insurance without appreciating the risk.

— Steve Krai, supervising operations engineer, Joint Water Pollution Control Plant, County Sanitation Districts of Los Angeles County

In response to the editorial on “clean” construction and demolition debris — “Using a hammer to kill a flea?” — from our Oct. 20 e-newsletter(Subscribe here):

Several years ago a contractor working on a road improvement asked to use recycled crushed concrete from another job as fill. I was concerned about accepting contaminated material.

Our geotechnical staff told me you need to know what you are testing for before you test for contaminates. But if you don't know, what do you test for — every contaminate possible? That could negate any saving you'd reap from using the recycled material.

I would've liked to use the material to save tax dollars and be “green,” but I decided it was best not to. I hope the testing requirements of these laws will give guidance on what must be tested for, and our industry will become more adept at certifying these materials.

— Peter Michael, PE, construction supervisor, Snohomish County Department of Public Works, Everett, Wash.