During the fall, I attend many conferences, as well as plan for the upcoming year. Although busy, it’s a great chance for me to look beyond my day-to-day responsibilities, to discuss the civil engineering industry with all sorts of professionals, and to cast my attention to the excitement of the coming year.
In September, I had the privilege to attend the American Council of Engineering Companies’ Fall Conference in Charleston, S.C. Although the highlight for me was hearing Leslie Robertson, the structural engineer of record for the World Trade Center, present, "How High Can We Go," the event delivered meaningful technical knowledge and business advice.
A session about challenges faced by public-owned treatment works was especially interesting to me when the discussion turned to the proposed Clean Water Trust Act of 2005 (H.R. 4560). This legislation "would create a dedicated clean water trust fund, similar to those that currently exist for highways and airports, and would provide approximately $38 billion over five years for clean water infrastructure projects," according to a recent National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) newsletter article discussing current co-sponsors of the bill.
According to Ken Kirk, executive director of NACWA, while the association is busy with an advocacy campaign to garner support for H.R. 4560, another priority is clear: identify a funding source by the end of the year. An economist is "running the numbers" on various funding source options, including a clean water restoration fee modeled after Superfund taxing, a "flushables" approach that places a fee mechanism on the greatest polluters, and a beverages tax, among others. Visit www.cleanwateramerica.org to learn more.
In November, I attended the Land Development West Conference & Expo, which was sponsored by CE News. In a keynote, Gavin Smith, Ph.D., director of the Office of Recovery and Renewal, Office of the Governor, State of Mississippi (www.governorbarbour.com), and senior program manger of Risk and Emergency Management Division of PBS&J, made a specific call to action for private businesses—including engineers, builders, and developers—to offer their services in the coastal regions of Mississippi that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. He noted that there are 500 grant programs available to fund the rebuilding of the many devastated communities, which included 50,000 homes before the storm. The land was cleared in 2006, and rebuilding is expected to begin next year. (To learn more about the next Land Development Conference & Expo, which will be held April 11-12, 2007 in Orlando, Fla., visit events.zweigwhite.com.)
Also this fall, I met with the CE News team to plan a great line up of article topics, contributors, and advertising opportunities for 2007, as well as a new CE News logo and magazine page design. The targeted content you depend on will be better than ever and will be delivered with a fresh, new look. So enjoy this final issue of 2006 and keep your eyes open for the "new" CE News next month!