ASK ANN

"I keep hearing the ongoing discussion about trying to get public works included as "first responders" with the Department of Homeland Security. Everyone knows we work right alongside police and fire crews and even open the way for them to do their work. What's the big issue?"

You're right, first responders are responsible for protection of life, property, evidence and the environment, and public works provides these services immediately during emergency situations and stays through to clean up after the emergency is over. The Emergency Management Technical Committee has developed a great brochure that may help you to understand the efforts underway and to explain how public works fits into the provision of emergency management services. Contact Karen Bloodworth, Staff Liaison, at kbloodworth@apwa.net to request a copy of the brochure.

It looks like we're finally going to have to bite the bullet and establish a stormwater utility to handle all the requirements of the federal stormwater program. Can you tell me how to go about setting it up?

Sure we can. Check out our publication Financing Stormwater Utilities, available from our online bookstore. This publication was written by members of the Water Resources Management Committee and includes information which should help you determine what's necessary to establish a utility. With the rising costs of permitting and requirements coming from the federal government, many agencies are finding they cannot keep up with the costs unless they establish a utility which will fund the program. Be forewarned, you'll need to provide lots of community education to help your residents understand why this new utility is necessary. If you have questions, post them on the Environment infoNOW Community to hear how others have handled the issues.

We operate a municipal landfill and have been concerned about information that's being released that indicates that electronic waste cannot be managed safely in landfills. We encourage recycling of e-wastes but we also handle those wastes properly onsite. We don't want our users to be concerned so how should we address the issue?

Recent testimony given by Dr. John Skinner, CEO of the Solid Waste Association of North America, and Bruce Parker, CEO of the National Solid Waste Management Association, was in direct response to testimony given before the Senate's Superfund and Solid Waste Management Subcommittee. The earlier testimony claimed that products such as cathode ray tubes, found in TV sets and computer monitors, were too hazardous to safely dispose of in municipal solid waste landfills. While both associations strongly support recycling as the first option for disposal, they also wanted to go on record with the facts that today's Subtitle D landfills are engineered to prevent leakage and therefore can safely handle scrap electronics. The APWA Solid Waste Management Technical Committee is currently developing a Position Statement on just this topic. If you have information you would like to see included, look for their contact information at www.apwa.net/About/TechSvcs/. They'll be happy to have your input.

Our municipality has determined we should be able to offer our citizens as much wireless access as possible. We have made our airport a "wi-fi" area but are there other things we could do?

King County, WA and Richmond, VA have gone a step further by launching "hotspots" in some of their parks. King County visitors can log on to the network at the parks' sports fields, the Group Health Velodrome, Subway restaurant and concert venue in Marymoor Park. They actually sold the naming rights for the first year to Redmond, Washington-based MSN. Monroe Park in Richmond, VA, the Department of Parks, Recreation and Community Facilities and the Monroe Park Advisory Council have built a hotspot. The city's oldest park is now the most updated; along with the new wireless network, the city has just completed restoring the park. Now you can work from your playground! Sometimes we Americans forget it really is all right to relax. But as good public servants, we aim to please!

We're ready to kick off a major transportation project and are already dreading the slow process of dealing with environmental impact studies and delays to the program. Isn't there anything that can be done to speed up these reviews?

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is encouraging their field division office and state DOT environmental departments to quickly adopt a new program to streamline the environmental review process. Titled "Negotiated Timeframe Wizard," the program was developed during the past year based on requirements identified by FHWA's Office of Project Development and Environmental Review. The new program uses timeframes that are developed in consultation with lead, consulting and cooperating agencies at or near the beginning of a project. The program facilitates the development and management of these timeframes and helps agencies identify and overcome bottlenecks and to monitor progress on their Environmental Assessments and Environmental Impact Statements. For more information on this new program, check the website at www.environment.fhwa.dot.gov/strmlng/index.asp.

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) 472-1610
E-mail:
adaniels@apwa.net