"I've been reading about the decline in recycling rates in many states. Is it really working? Does pitching in an aluminum can actually have an impact?"

According to industry reports, you're right—recycling is declining in some areas and major efforts are underway to get the levels up again. Saving the landfill space and protecting the environment are paramount reasons to do so. However, there is one recycled item that continues to grow and really contributes to improving the environment and that object is aluminum cans. Did you know that the turnaround time for a recycled aluminum can is 60 days? That's pretty impressive. Did you also know that aluminum can recycling saves 95% of the energy required to make aluminum from bauxite ore? Probably didn't, did you? There's a great website you might want to check out at Now, if we could only get other generators of waste to be as aggressive about making their products recyclable, we'd have a hit on our hands.

"I've just discovered 'The Baker's Menu' articles on Core Competencies for Public Works Managers and would like to know if I can get copies of the previous articles. Can you tell me how to do that?"

Sure can and be happy to do so. Members of the Leadership and Management Committee of APWA began a series titled "The Baker's Dozen—Core Competencies for Public Works Leaders" in December 2003, and presented thirteen articles on each of the selected competencies. The response was overwhelming and the new "Baker's Menu for Public Works Managers" began in February of this year. You can access each of the articles by visiting the APWA Reporter website at where you'll find the online issues for the magazine. Check out each month's issue, from December 2003 to the present, and download them if you choose to do so. A brochure on the Core Competencies for Public Works Leaders is available at and then click on "Public Works Core Competencies Defined" and download it for yourself. A new brochure on the Public Works Core Competencies for Public Works Managers will be available in the next few months.

"It's that time of the year again when we begin to hear about air quality. I know we're not supposed to cut the grass or fill up our vehicles with gasoline until evening, but is anybody doing anything to encourage the auto industry to help us out by producing vehicles that cut the greenhouse gas emissions?"

Don't you wish U.S. automakers will follow through on this issue? We know the technology is there but we have yet to convince the powers that be to do what it takes to make it happen. Carmakers in Canada have elected to voluntarily cut greenhouse gas emissions from the vehicles they sell by more than 11 billion pounds per year through a deal they struck with the Canadian government in April of this year. The aim of the agreement is to reduce the annual emissions by 2010 and includes all major players in the Canadian automobile manufacturing industry, which ranks eighth in the world in production. Maybe the U.S. should take a page from our neighbors to the north and look at developing voluntary agreements which would encourage cooperation between automakers and actually make it happen rather than waiting until EPA forces them to do so. Congratulations to the Canadians. We'll be watching for your successes. If you're interested in reading an article about this issue, contact Waste News senior reporter Jim Johnson at

"Has anyone ever tried to receive college credit hours for state certification as a water or wastewater operator? We have several operators who may be interested in furthering their education. Are there any colleges or universities that offer college level training for water and wastewater operators?"

The University of California; Crowder College, Neosho, MO; and Kirkwood Community College in Cedar Rapids, IA are some I've heard that do give this training at the secondary education level. If you check the curriculum offerings for Environmental Science majors, you may very likely find several in your own state that do so, as well. If not, I would suggest you check with your state's department of higher education for a listing of colleges within your area that may be offering them.

"Is the use of biodiesel in public fleets taking hold? Who is using it, how long have they used it, how are they buying it, what is their experience with it, and in what concentration are they using it?" Ryan Goodman, City of Langley, WA

Wow, I seldom get questions within questions! You have asked some good ones, too. We do know that several of our public fleets are using biodiesel and I know they would be happy to share their experiences with you. Since you have asked several specific and detailed questions, I'm going to post your question on the Operations infoNOW Community and I know you will receive good response from our fleet members. If you are reading this and want to share your experiences with Ryan, you can reach him by e-mail at If you want to read answers posted on infoNOW, be certain you are subscribed to this great member service by logging on to to subscribe to any or all of these information communities. InfoNOW is one of your member benefits and if you're not subscribed, you're missing out on an excellent source of information.

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