The A.I. Interview: Scott D. Grayson, CAE, Executive Director, American Public Works Assoc.

Grayson outlines the APWA’s projects, priorities, and hopes for the future of water infrastructure

American Infrastructure: What were some highlights for the APWA so far in 2018?

Scott D. Grayson: APWA kicked off 2018 announcing our much-anticipated Certified Public Works Professional program, which recognizes individuals who have the knowledge and experience to supervise and manage in public works departments and organizations. Two levels, one for supervisors and the other for managers, will be available.

In May, APWA and our Indiana Chapter hosted the 2018 North American Snow Conference in Indianapolis. During the conference, President Bo Mills announced the creation of a national “Public Works First Responder” logo to identify public works personnel as first responders, and acknowledge their federally mandated role. Many departments around the nation are already displaying the symbol on trucks and uniforms.

We also announced the Public Works ‘Fallen Heroes’ project. To honor the fallen, a web portal is being developed on our website to serve as a memorial and remember those who lost their lives in the line of duty.

We just wrapped our 58th annual National Public Works Week, held May 20-26, that includes a growing number participating municipalities. We hosted several events around our offices in Kansas City, MO and Washington, D.C., to spread awareness to our communities, members of Congress, and congressional staff about everything public works professionals do to help maintain and improve our quality of life.

AI: What areas of stormwater infrastructure could be improved or need the most attention?

SG: Our “Water Resiliency” public policy statement clearly outlines our organizational priorities for managing all water related public works responsibilities including: Updating water and wastewater regulations; protecting people, property and the environment; preserving and enhancing water infrastructure; developing cost-effective, science-based regulations; and streamlining local, state and federal governance structures.

Specifically related to stormwater infrastructure, these assets are critical to a high quality of life. Public works professionals face daily challenges maintaining existing infrastructure and adequate funding is required to replace aging infrastructure, maintain newer infrastructure, expand existing capacities, and implement technologies that provide needed water services.

For 2018-2019, APWA’s Water Resources Management Committee will likely be focusing its stormwater efforts on developing information on asset management and related Geographic Information System mapping to help local governments in their efforts to better manage their water systems. The information developed by the Committee will be integral to the creation of content for presentations, articles, and overall education about stormwater infrastructure.

AI: What changes are the APWA hoping to see from our current administration?

SG: We’re encouraged by the conversation being held by President Trump, the U.S. Congress, and state and local governments about the need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. The President has proposed a a federal investment of $200 billion to stimulate state, local and private spending of $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years.

APWA’s Infrastructure Financing and Funding public policy statement calls upon government leaders at all levels to define our infrastructure needs, and support our infrastructure with continued investment.

For funding, we believe the federal government must support tax-free municipal bonds, increase and index the federal motors fuel tax, protect the Highway Trust Fund, support user-based transportation funding, expand access to innovative finance tools, permanently authorize and expand state revolving loan funds, fully fund the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, provide the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers with project contract authority, adopt a long-term Water Resources Development Act, fully fund the National Levee Safety Program, and fully fund the Airport and Airway Trust Fund.

AI: How is the APWA incorporating sustainable approaches to current and upcoming infrastructure and public works projects?

SG: In establishing the APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S), APWA’s Board of Directors recognized that shrinking local budgets, increased material costs, more engaged and better-informed stakeholders, and new regulatory mandates confront public works professionals and make their daily jobs more challenging.

The C4S Leadership Group developed a list of guiding principles to help our public works leaders identify the actions they can take to integrate the concepts of sustainability into their organizational objectives and operations: recognize the community as an interconnected system, promote community revitalization, manage assets, restore and enhance the natural environment, protect and enhance recreational and heritage resources, collaborate with key stakeholders, practice fiscal responsibility, and foster active communication and civic engagement.

AI: What areas of U.S. infrastructure is the APWA trying to focus on more intently right now?

SG: For the 115th Congress, APWA’s is focusing on providing for transportation infrastructure, supporting water resiliency, and overarching infrastructure financing and funding. Our support for priority areas of transportation infrastructure includes securing long-term funding, streamlining processes, and emphasizing safety. The APWA is supporting water resiliency by updating regulations, enhancing water infrastructure, developing science-based regulations, and streamlining local, state, and federal governance structures.

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