In addition to this column, members are welcome to post their questions in the general forum area of the APWA website at There, other members have the opportunity to post their answers directly. We also retrieve those questions with broad appeal for "Ask Ann."

Q: The public works director from Weatherby Lake, Missouri, asks the following question: "With summer coming, we are faced with a large number of community groups asking to hold car washes to raise money. Is it okay for a scout troop or cheerleading team to spend time planting trees on Arbor Day and then harm water quality by having a fundraiser car wash?"

A: "Is it okay" is always a leading question! Youth need to know what impact car wash runoff may have on the environment. However, car washes are almost national icons. Even following the disaster on September 11, groups and families sponsored car washes to benefit the American Red Cross. So the likelihood of stopping such events would be about as great as refusing to sell hot dogs at ballgames.

However, water quality is harmed by car washes. It's more than soapy water that goes down the drains. The suspended solids settle out, the soap dries onto the asphalt, and one good rain washes all this gunk into the river. A recent online discussion of car washing on the USEPA NPSinfo listserv concluded that even a citrus-based cleaner would contribute to a violation of the total maximum daily load it is wasn't exempt under the Clean Water Act. If your area has a high incidence of pollution, you might want to allow the groups to hold their fundraisers on a rotating basis, explaining that the environment should be protected.

Q. Lucretia Olson, Planning Technician in the Environmental Services Department for the City of Arcata, California asks, "I'm looking for ways to dispose of "sweeper tailings" and I would like to know if your organization has a new technological approach to deal with this waste."

A: We were happy to refer Ms. Olson to an article written by Bob Wagner, member of the Solid Waste Committee, in the March 2001 issue which details the findings of Yuma's study on the street sweeping tailings and the fact that most of theirs could be disposed of without special treatment. We are not aware of new technology for disposing of the tailings but would suggest having the tailings tested to determine which, if not most, could be recycled to other project areas.

Q: "How can I get on the listserv for different areas on the APWA website?"

A: This question comes to us frequently and it is really a very simple matter to subscribe to the infoNOW Communities. Of course, that's assuming you are a member of APWA. That's the first prerequisite. If you enter the APWA website at, you will find an icon in the shape of a lock at the top of the page. The icon says "Members Only." Click on this icon and you will be directed to enter your Membership number and last name. When you have completed that task, click on "Login." Click on the words "infoNOW Communities" on the left side of the next screen. Read the APWA Usage Policy, Click on Yes, and then on Select. Read the description of each infoNOW Community and select each one you wish to join. When you click on the specific community, you will be referred to a screen asking if you are already subscribed. If not, click on the second statement, which reads, "If you are not a member, Click here to subscribe." The final screen asks for your email address and name. It is not necessary to use a password. Decide how you wish to receive your messages, either Mime Digest which delivers them all to you once a day, or "Receive messages as they are contributed" which will send them immediately as they are posted. Takes longer to read these directions than it does to subscribe! Why wait? Do it now and begin getting the full benefit of another of your APWA membership benefits!

Q: "What's the Emerging Public Works Leaders Forum and how can I find out more about it" was the question received from Amy Haddock, St. Peters, MO.

A: The Emerging Public Works Leaders Forum is a great opportunity for public works professionals with less than five years experience in a supervisory role to attend the International APWA Congress in September 2002 in Kansas City, Missouri, at a greatly reduced registration fee of $195. For more details and a full schedule of activities, contact Ann Daniels at or (816) 472-6100, ext. 3508. You'll be glad you did.

Ask Ann...

Questions are welcome.

Please address all inquiries to:
Ann Daniels
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd.
Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625
Fax questions to (816) 471-0405