"I noticed a question on infoNOW asking for information about the value of conducting citizen surveys and how to go about doing that. Can you provide some specifics?"
As we have conducted Accreditation site visits we have seen several good citizen surveys that have included every aspect of city/county government service. Some have been public works-specific while others have compared all city services. One great tool that is available is the National Citizen Survey which was developed through a partnership with ICMA (International City/County Management Association) and National Research Center, Inc. While it is not free, it is a low-cost citizen survey service for local governments. It has been tested, is flexible, affordable and efficient and allows you to survey for program planning, budgeting, goal setting and performance management. Staff, elected officials and management report the results are valuable in a variety of ways including improving service delivery, setting spending priorities, measuring progress and charting future steps. You can find more information about this survey instrument at www.icma.org/main/bc.asp?bcid=39&hsid=1&ssid1=50&ssid2=133.
"Managing the vegetation in our public rights-of-way has become a major issue for us. On one side we have the environmentalists who don't want us to ruin the natural look and the other side wants to spray everything to kill it off. Any suggestions for better management?"
Urban forestry and vegetation management is a hot topic now and it's about time we addressed it. The Facilities and Grounds Technical Committee is working towards a greater APWA emphasis to assist our members. In the meantime, the National Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) has commissioned Synthesis 341, Integrated Roadside Vegetation Management: A Synthesis of Highway Practice, written by longtime state vegetation manager and consultant, Bob Berger. The synthesis surveys state programs, reviews current literature, finds common practice and contradictions, and elaborates best practice guidelines for the 21st century. It is available off the Internet in pdf format at: http://gulliver.trb.org/publications/nchrp/nchrp_syn_341.pdf.
"After reading the recent article about the first 25 accredited agencies, I'm wondering if there have been any new ones added to the list."
Oh, yes. The list continues to grow and we have now reached a total of 30 accredited agencies. The most recent five include: Libertyville, IL; Jackson, MS; Hazel Dell Sewer District, Vancouver, WA; Anacortes, WA; and Plano, TX, which have all earned the title of accredited agency. The list continues to grow. Many agencies are conducting the Self Assessment portion of the program with the intent of continuing on to Accreditation. For more information, visit our website at www.apwa.net/About/Accreditation or give me a call at (816) 595-5223.
"I recently read an article written by a man who had a long list of credentials after his name and one of them was unfamiliar to me. What does the designation 'DEE' mean?"
Sounds like part of the Alphabet game, doesn't it? The "DEE" credential, or Diplomate Environmental Engineer, has been around many years and is considered one of the highest achievements in the environmental engineering discipline. DEE certification requires at least a P.E. license, eight years of full-time environmental engineering experience, and the passing of written and oral exams from the American Academy of Environmental Engineers. APWA provides one of our DEE-certified members as a judge for the Environmental Awards program sponsored by AAEE. And, now that I've told you what it means, let me tell you it's being changed! Isn't that always the way it goes? The new title will be "Board Certified Environmental Engineer" (BCEE) and is easier to understand. The certification is offered in several specialty areas: air pollution control, general environmental engineering, hazardous waste management, industrial hygiene, radiation protection, solid waste management, and water supply/wastewater engineering. For more information you can check their website at www.aaee.net.
"I understand Florida is using a new approach to disposing of wastewater through underground injection wells and that EPA has approved the method. How does it work and can it contaminate the drinking water sources?"
You understand right. Florida's approach sharply reduces the possibility of drinking water contamination from wastewater injected into deep wells. The program includes industrial pretreatment of wastewater before it enters water treatment plants. Those plans then add a second level of treatment as well as high-level disinfection to inactive pathogenic organisms. What that means is that the wastewater now meets the same state standards for reused wastewater applied on lawns and golf courses. Look for more detailed information at www.epa.gov/r5water/uic/uic.htm.
Questions are welcome.
Please address all inquiries to:
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd., Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625
Fax questions to: (816) 472-1610