More stories about Ideas & Opinions

  • Envisioning the future water and wastewater utility

    For American water and wastewater utilities, change is inevitable and unrelenting. Although their fundamental responsibility remains to provide safe, reliable, affordable, and secure systems that protect public health, the environment, and quality of life, changes in society and the global business...

  • Seeing the big picture

    Serving the public can be an arduous, thankless job. The work is challenging, and even if your performance is stellar, the number of complaints you draw often outweighs the kudos. Of course you want to do a good job, but sometimes, when you find yourself in the middle of a grueling workday—which...

  • Is there a chemist in the house?

    When you visit a water plant, what image are you left with? Depending on your experience, you may envision a building pulsating with the noise of pumps and motors; a vast array of tanks filled with water; or a large room of pipes and computer screens with red, green, or yellow lights. When I enter...

  • Choosing between asphalt and concrete pavement

    Hard-surfaced pavements, which make up about 60% of U.S. roads, typically are constructed with either hot-mix asphalt or portland cement concrete (commonly referred to as “asphalt” and “concrete,” respectively). Of those roads, more than 90% are asphalt.

  • Understanding contract documents

    The American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) 2005 Report Card for America's Infrastructure gave the nation a cumulative grade of “D” based on the condition of several public works categories.

  • Is America on the road to ruin?

    All levels of government in the United States are facing a new era of capital financing and infrastructure management. In recent years, many revenue sources have diminished while others have evaporated entirely.

  • Dollars well spent: staying on top of technology

    Parcel data, regional and community maps, facility as-builts, building permits, and other collected data are the longstanding capital of public works departments. Systems to manage and better analyze these pieces of information, however, have advanced with technology, and public agencies need to be...

  • Embracing controversy with confidence

    The most challenging aspect of a municipal water professional's job is not always technology, budgets, and capacity issues. Rather, it is often the increased levels of public attention and conflict over new policies and projects. Managers, engineers, and their customers are finding that they need...

  • Making upgrades

    I love my Mac. At least I do when it works. Most people are very loyal to their computers, but I'm on a Mac at work and a PC at home. So really, I can go either way as long as the machine does what I want it to do. But computers often require upgrades. We're about to move into Mac OSX here at the...

  • Extroverted engineering