Public-Private Water Utility Partnerships Urged
American Water, the largest water services provider in North America, urged municipal officials to consider partnerships with private companies as a way to manage the enormous task of providing reliable water supplies to cities with aging infrastructure and growing populations. The company made its presentation at the 2006 National League of Cities conference in Reno. “Partnerships between municipalities and the private sector will be an increasingly important strategy for dealing with the enormous challenges of replacing and upgrading the nation’s water delivery systems, and finding new solutions to the critical issues of providing water to meet environmental concerns and the needs of growing populations and industries,” said Donald Correll, president and CEO of American Water.
Also noted was the critical need for public-private partnerships in western regions with rapid growth. For example, the population of Las Vegas has increased over 83 percent since 1960, jumping water use exponentially from an estimated 1.4 million gallons per day to more than 154 million gallons per day, based on an average consumption of 400 gallons per day, per family of four. Public-private partnerships mentioned include: The city of Buffalo in Buffalo, N.Y.; Lake Pleasant Water Treatment Plant in Phoenix, Ariz.; Tolt Treatment Facility in Seattle, Wash.; and Gillette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass. “Each of these projects demonstrates the value of business and government working collaboratively through public-private partnerships to solve vexing issues with innovative solutions that municipalities might not have been able to implement unilaterally,” said Correll
Grand Canyon West’s, The Skywalk
Grand Canyon West, a destination owned and operated by the Hualapai Tribe at the Grand Canyon’s western rim, recently announced March 28, 2007 as the official public opening date of The Skywalk. The Skywalk will be the first-ever cantilever-shaped glass walkway suspended more than 4,000 feet above the canyon’s floor and extending 70 feet from the canyon’s rim. The facility will include a 6,000-square-foot visitor’s center on three levels, containing a museum, movie theater, VIP lounge, gift shop and several restaurants and bars. The visitor’s center will also offer private outdoor facilities for meetings, special events and weddings. The Skywalk was designed by MRJ Architects and is being structurally engineered by Lochsa Engineering, LLC. Saint Gobain, a European company that specializes in designing structural glass for unique building projects worldwide, is manufacturing the glass.
GPO Produces Millionth E-Passport
The United States Government Printing Office (GPO) is leading the high-tech transformation of the nation’s passports and recently produced the millionth electronic passport (e-passport). The e-passport includes an embedded electronic chip that contains a traveler’s information and can be digitally scanned at equipped airports. It also contains security features to prevent the chips from being read, cloned or changed. “We are proud to reach this milestone,” said Ben Brink, assistant public printer for security and intelligent documents. “In the post 9/11 era, many documents require new levels of security from their creation to their distribution.” The high demand for U.S. passports is expected to increase as citizens of the United States are required to present a passport when entering by air from any part of the Western Hemisphere.
Minimum Wage Increase Brings New Challenges for Employers
The House of Representatives recently passed and sent to the Senate, a bill that will increase the federal minimum wage from the current $5.15 an hour to $7.25, in three steps over a 26-month period. Numerous interests have urged the Senate to incorporate tax-cuts, especially for smaller companies, into the legislation before sending it to President Bush. Employers will have to pay special attention to their mandatory minimum wage postings, if the bill is signed into law. “Employers who don’t post the most recent labor law posters, such as minimum wage, risk government fines and increase the likelihood of employee lawsuits,” said attorney Ashley Kaplan, head of the labor law research team at G. Neil.