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Feb 25 2013

A Few Good Reads (2/25/13): Cities Facing Deluge of Water System Costs, Drought Continues in the West.

This week: Elevation helps a home survive hurricane sandy, U.S. cities facing significant water system costs, Northern Water sounding drought alarm in Northern Colorado, characterizing sediment carried by the 2011 Mississippi River flood, and dealing with obstructive complexity.

U.S. cities face deluge of water system costs, threats to funds (Reuters)

As its budget fight intensifies, the U.S. Congress is considering limiting financing mechanisms that many places use to cover infrastructure costs, including capping the tax exemption for interest paid by municipal bonds. Issuers say this will drive up their financing costs, as they will have to offer the higher interest rates comparable to taxable bonds.

 Dire: Northern Water Sounds Alarm Over Water Resources (KUNC)

Our board of directors is going to face a tough challenge if this continues. [With] this lack of precipitation and snow pack they have to decide how much water can be released to each of our water users in terms of a percentage of their contract.  They don’t always get a full unit of what they own.  And this year may be one of those that they get much less of what they usually do which is in the 70 percent of units. So we’re looking for a tough decision for them. Do they give out a lot to their agricultural users to be able to plant their crops for the year and get through it? Or a little bit of dividing up for municipalities to feel like folks can turn their taps on?

Geologists Quantify, Characterize Sediment Carried by Mississippi Flood to Louisiana’s Wetlands (Science Daily)

The study, led by Ph.D. student Nicole Khan of the Department of Earth and Environmental Science, is the first to quantify the amount of sediment transported to wetlands by a flood on the Mississippi. The results shed light on how floods impact wetlands, and how these effects might be harnessed to purposefully rebuild Louisiana’s wetlands, which are sinking from compaction and growing smaller as sea level rises.

The Cumulative Effects of Obstructive Complexity (Urban Workbench)

Applying problems like this to Civil Engineering and Urban Design is what gets my creative juices going, but recently I’ve been looking at the way municipalities (including internal departments) communicate with their customers, whether planning and engineering departments about the development process, or IT departments about the software issues that a staff member might be having. I call it obstructive complexity.

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