Launch Slideshow

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The New Age of Aquarius

The New Age of Aquarius

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    Now more than ever, savvy managers must work with colleagues at the local and state levels to demonstrate how their proposed project provides an environmentally sustainable infrastructure solution.

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    The next federal surface-transportation bill should include a weight-distance component that better reflects the impact of commercial vehicles, says U.S. Rep. James Oberstar (D-Minn.), chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.

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    Loan programs have decreased 66% since 1991. In 2006, the federal government provided just $1.9 billion, leaving local governments to come up with $85 billion — or 98% — of the total investment in wastewater treatment and 95% of the investment in water infrastructure.

Obama has indicated he'd support the EPA, which in October finalized a rule requiring concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFO) to safely manage manure, in more strictly monitoring uncontrolled livestock grazing and feedlots. The rule requires that operators submit a nutrient management plan as part of a permit application.

The new administration also is expected to work fast to improve treatment infrastructure and regulate emerging contaminants. During the campaign, Obama proposed to increase federal funding for treatment facility projects as well as best-management practices that address storm-water runoff.

Louisville Mayor Abramson urged Congress to allocate $19 billion — more than twice the amount in September's bailout legislation — directly to cities as grants to rehabilitate aging water and sewer infrastructure, comply with sewer overflow issues, and protect source water.

The ACSE has called for even more federal funding: $1.6 trillion in drinking water and waste-water improvements over the next 20 years and $10 billion to rehabilitate dams and levees over the next 12 years.

Obama also proposed updating regulations for pharmaceuticals and perchlorate, which in October the EPA declined to regulate. But the agency's mandate may change if legislation proposed by Senate Environment and Public Works Chair Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) in 2007 is approved.

The Perchlorate Monitoring and Right to Know Act (S 24) would require the EPA to resume testing drinking water for perchlorate, while the Protecting Pregnant Women and Children from Perchlorate Act (S 150) would require the agency to set a standard designed specifically to protect pregnant women and children. Boxer has indicated that the Senate is likely to vote on the bills this year.

MASS TRANSIT GETS THE NOD

Americans are taking advantage of alternative modes of transportation more than ever. Use of public transportation has grown 32% since 1995, more than double the 13% population growth rate.

Yet 31 of the largest transit systems face financial hardships that could cripple them within months, 40% of rural Americans don't have access to public transportation, and the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) estimates 559 projects worth more than $8 billion could begin within three months if — like approved road and bridge projects — federal funding is made available.

As a candidate Obama pledged to reform the federal tax code to equalize the tax benefits of both ridesharing and public transit usage to relieve traffic congestion. His goal is to encourage urban planners to take advantage of such policies when drafting transportation and infrastructure plans for their cities.

He's stated that he would double the investment in the federal Jobs Access and Reverse Commute program, which funds programs that offer transportation to low-income workers who live in urban areas and commute to the suburbs. This year the program is set to receive $165 million.