ASK ANN

Q&A

"I read somewhere about a software for local governments that helps to easily analyze the water and sewer rates and performance quickly and accurately. Can you tell me what this program is and how I can see it?"

Glad you asked. While there may be several software programs out there, the one I know the most about is a product developed by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources (MoDNR) entitled "Show-Me Ratemaker." The software is a Microsoft Excel-based spreadsheet program that makes it easy for water and sewer systems to fix their finances and rates. It produces a five-year projection of rates, costs, reserve balances, and numerous financial condition indicators. It generates tables and visual charts that make it much easier for decision-makers and ratepayers to understand what the analysis is telling them. The program is being used extensively throughout the country. It can be downloaded for free at www.dnr.state.mo.us/oac/emiapps.htm and is a part of the Environmental Management Institute (EMI) Software Suite.

"Every time I turn around there's something different about the TMDL rule going into effect or being withdrawn. What's the most current information?"

Members of the APWA Water Resources Management Committee often feel as confused as you do. For the past three years new rules have been threatened, studied and debated, but only in March of this year was a final decision made to withdraw the controversial rule that would have revised the Environmental Protection Agency's program for cleaning up impaired waters—the July 2000 final Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) rule. Based on more than 34,000 comments received from affected parties, as well as court challenges by some two dozen parties, the 2000 rule was deemed "unworkable" and was withdrawn. Is this the end of the discussion? No. EPA is continuing efforts to improve the TMDL program to further enhance the quality of the nation's waters. Stay tuned for the next episode of this continuing saga of "How to meet the goals of purer water."

"APWA and the One-Call Systems used to provide printed cards that showed the uniform color code and guidelines for marking underground facilities. Are they still available?"

They certainly are and they are easily located at the bottom of the APWA home page under "Color Code and Marking Guidelines, 4/1999." We no longer print the cards but the details for the color preparation are posted on the website as well, so the cards were no longer deemed necessary. APWA formally adopted these frequently-used colors and guidelines from the Underground Prevention regulations and strongly encourages our members to use the ANSI standard Z535.1 Safety Colors for temporary marking and facility identification. For specific questions concerning underground digging, contact the One-Call Center in your state at the number listed on the APWA website under "One-Call Center Directory."

"I haven't heard anything lately about the City of Sacramento's ADA lawsuit about their sidewalks. Has that issue been resolved and if so, how?"

The last week in June, the U.S. Supreme Court let stand a ruling that the City of Sacramento must make all public sidewalks accessible to disabled Americans under a federal anti-discrimination law. The high court rejected an appeal by the City to overturn a ruling that city sidewalks were covered by the American with Disabilities Act of 1990 and therefore have to be accessible. The City contended it would place a "staggering" financial burden on thousands of state and local governments if all sidewalks were required to be ADA accessible. The settlement calls for the City to drop its push to have the Supreme Court hear the case. In return they must dedicate 20 percent of designated transportation funds for the next 30 years to improve sidewalks, crosswalks and curb ramps. Moral of the story: ADA applies to everyone, regardless of ability to pay.

Ask Ann...

Questions are welcome.

Please address all inquiries to:

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd.
Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625
Fax questions to (816) 472-0405
E-mail:
adaniels@apwa.net