So Long Salisbury

ron swanson television GIF

Well, it has been a couple of weeks since I finished up my internship with the City of Salisbury, and I can honestly say I still miss this amazing experience (we can pretend that I saved the last post until some time had passed, and not that I left you all hanging because I was enjoying the beach). If you ever get a chance to visit or work in Salisbury, NC, I highly recommend it (like 5 stars on Yelp to those of you who still use Yelp).

And to all those thinking about a career in local government, RUN! Haha, just kidding. Honestly, I would certainly suggest an internship where you can see multiple departments, especially if you aren’t quite sure where you want to start your career like me. Although, I still refuse to admit to a favorite department in Salisbury, no matter how many times they ask – YOU WERE ALL MY FAVORITE!!!!

I sign off ready to finish my last year of the MPA program at UNC and start my hard core, nerdy, local government career. Hope I see some of y’all out there!!!

GET (Parks and) REC’D!

happy parks and recreation GIF

Is Salisbury Parks and Recreation anything like the show Parks and Recreation? While I don’t think real life can live up to the crazy antics of what is admittedly one of my favorite shows, it is important to note that there is the same (if not greater) level of dedication toward serving the community. There also aren’t any pits in Salisbury as far as I know.

While there are no pits, people are still able to bring in their own ideas for public parks and programming, which Parks and Recreation is always happy to hear. In fact, one program was proposed and considered this week involving an organization that would like to use a kitchen space in the Teen Center for cooking classes. The organization primarily caters (puns are good for you) to youth who have some sort of criminal past to help them get back on track, but they are willing to offer classes to general community youth as well. Such a program can teach youth life skills, potential vocational skills, and how to operate under stressful conditions (wait, I’m not the only one stressed out in the kitchen right?). While I don’t know whether the program will be able to start this year, it is certainly inspiring to see Parks and Recreation open to any ideas from the community it serves.

It is not often that a parks and recreation department has an opportunity to add a large park to the downtown area, so I was fortunate in getting to attend a meeting about just that. The Bell Tower Green project involves turning a large, mostly parking-lot-filled area into a beautiful park with a kids play space, plants and trees, a grass field, and a stage for potential events. For you budget nerds (don’t worry, me too) who are looking through the Salisbury budget for the secret magic account full of money, the City does not own this property yet. Instead, an outside organization owns it and is funding the creation of the park, which will later be given to the care of the City (the deal may be more complicated than this, but you get the idea). Keep this project on your radar because this place is going to be gorgeous when it is done. Click HERE for the website with a model drawing!

Walking the potential greenway

Don’t worry, I did get outside some this week. The City is currently looking into a new greenway space that would connect other existing greenway trails. Interestingly enough, one of the best locations for this new trail was in a Duke Energy right-of-way, where there are no trees in the way. To get a feel of the space, we met with Duke Energy (who was very willing to work with us, so shout out) and representatives from the Carolina Thread Trail (definitely check this out) at the site of the proposed trail. It definitely makes you appreciate the trails more having to walk them before they are trimmed up and paved!

Parks and Recreation has a lot more going on as well, including awesome facilities that give youth a great place to hang out and play, and some fantastic events that bring in tourism and business from out of town (which requires A LOT of planning ahead by the way – Cheerwine Festival 2020 is already being planned). On top of everything else, they are planning for growth in the future. It was definitely a great experience being with a group of people who are dedicated to expanding the Salisbury Parks and Recreation scope in any way that can benefit the community.

While this was my final week with The City of Salisbury (I know, it’s sad), come back next week as I do a final recap of my amazing experience and do a final sign off! If you have any questions on any of my experience, feel free to leave a comment and I will do my best to answer it. See you next week!




I will preface this week’s post by saying that Public Services does A LOT around the City of Salisbury. What I describe may not encompass everything and will definitely not do the department justice for their awesome work, but it would probably be bad blogging if I didn’t try.

P.S. – Sorry for the long post, but I broke it up with some pictures to help!


The first hat (and of course I mean role/job – they actually all have the same matching hats) I was exposed to was that of the crews repairing and replacing asphalt and concrete. Crews of around 4 will go to different locations where a road/sidewalk issue was either reported by a citizen or spotted by staff and repair it.

Crew “Topping Off” a low spot in the road

While every job is different, the asphalt crew above laid down a sort of adhesive that helps the new asphalt stick, filled in a sunken spot in the road, and leveled it out again (call it a top-off to show off to local gov friends!). The concrete crew below is finishing a sidewalk (sorry if this triggers any of my repeat readers) that was torn up to gain access to a pipe below. While crew members have certain preferences or jobs they are better at, Public Services values flexibility, so most staff are cross-trained to run any crews or machines necessary.

Putting finishing touches on the new concrete sidewalk


The second hat of the week was with solid waste, more commonly known as the people that come by once a week and take your trash to a magical far off land (SPOILER ALERT – it’s the Rowan County landfill). Trash pickup itself is a pretty simple concept, BUT WAIT, I brought a gift in the form of a fun fact: the trashcans have to be somewhat cylindrical so that the automatic arm can get a good grip. One day this week, a lady called to ask if we had mistakenly taken her trashcan. After calling up the driver on her route, it was discovered that she had an older model can with a square shape, which the mechanical arm decided to throw away for her (the can slipped out of the arms grip).

Pile of cans to be recycled pre-baled
Cans to be recycled, post-baler

Recycling has been a hot topic lately, since China decided to stop taking the highly contaminated materials from the US (top challenge in local government: teach citizens proper recycling practices). Salisbury waste is fortunate to work closely with Rowan County, that has a neat recycling program that managed to find buyers for the materials it does recycle. At the Rowan recycling locations, one of which is seen below, the main materials accepted are aluminum cans, steel and tin cans, cardboard, 1 and 2 plastics, and glass. Feel free to ask me for more information, but the neatest thing to find out is that Rowan actually found a company in North Carolina that will buy their glass and use it for glass (glass-to-glass recycling instead of grinding it up for another purpose). This is neat because the lack of market for and heavy weight (more expensive shipping) of recycled glass has forced a lot of places in the US to stop recycling it.


The third hat is worn especially by one man, who is a landscape architect and arborist among other certifications. He helped design a number of neighborhood parks and is extremely knowledgeable about tree and plant life. One cool service Salisbury is testing is having the arborist respond to calls from concerned citizens to educate and prevent future damage from dying trees. This is certainly a position that could get overlooked in government, but it goes a long way to making Salisbury look beautiful and feel safe.


Stormwater control is a crucial and fascinating hat of Public Services. Not only do they maintain those storm drain systems you see on the road (gutters that lead to grates in the ground) that help prevent flooding, but they work to ensure that stormwater enters the streams and other water systems without harmful contamination. They even bought a new street sweeper, Unicorn 1, as a cost efficient way to keep harmful metals and other trash out of the system. My personal favorite part of the job is that they not only test the water with probes, but they look at the aquatic life as an indication of water quality. The Mayfly, for example, is a sensitive aquatic based insect that cannot survive in poor water – the more Mayflys you find, the better your water is doing.

Street Sweeper Unicorn 1 – there is a Unicorn hidden on the side


Cemetery duty is important, especially in a town as old as Salisbury. While it comes with the maintenance of the cities cemeteries, it also includes helping with more historic based projects. One such project, currently getting ready for phase 2, is the creation of a memorial and cemetery for the nearly 500 unmarked African-American graves that were discovered in a field in town.

This job also comes with the crucial job of protecting “the foot”. In this case, the picture says more than I can – and YES, it is an actual grave.

Grave of a foot in a cemetery


I admit that as I write this, I have not yet been with the Fleet division of Public Services. However, I am told that they can maintain and repair all of the city equipment, from new street sweepers down to weed eaters, internally. This in itself is amazing considering that, at least for the street sweeper, the equipment goes well beyond the complexity of your average car. I am very eager to find out more.


I am sure that there are even more hats that Public Services wears, but I have already written way more than intended on my week of experience alone. Let us just say that Public Services does a lot for the City, and there would AT LEAST be potholes, flooding, and mucky water everywhere if they were not as good and dedicated to their jobs as they are.


For those of you either disappointed that I didn’t post last week or because I didn’t post about Transit, hopefully this double-header will make up for the wrong that has been done.

Example of an electric bus.

Last week, I spent an enlightening week with Transit. In addition to doing some Excel projects for Transit that will hopefully save some time and effort in the future, I was able to research busing options that Salisbury may be interested in pursuing in the future. For starters, I looked at electric buses. These vehicles present a challenge in that they save money and the environment over time, but the upfront cost of the vehicle is significantly higher than a gas or diesel vehicle, and it requires extra infrastructure and maintenance training for the electric batteries. Other vehicles I researched were smaller shuttles (electric and gas) that may be less expensive but still cater to Salisbury’s ridership, and family vans that could potentially be used like a local government Uber. All of these ideas sound interesting and worthwhile, but how can you predict what your city will need years down the road (small pun, not sorry), considering these vehicles are a long-term investment.

This just in, let’s talk about Communications!

Communications really is the key, especially to a local government that wants its citizens to be aware of what is going on and how their local government can benefit them. For example, the Salisbury Police Department has some really cool initiatives to help reduce crime and build the relationship between Police and residents (they have a Police Ice Cream Truck!!!), but no citizens would know of these efforts if communications wasn’t there to get the message out. All that is to say, your initiative/program could be the greatest in the world, but it means nothing if it isn’t communicated to and understood by the people it is meant to help.

One of my favorite projects this week was working on an article about Fleet personnel who hit a huge goal in Emergency Vehicle Technician certification. While writing the article is challenging due to the difference in style from this blog, where I basically ramble on and yet you are STILL reading, but it is rewarding knowing that even just a few citizens will see that city staff are trying to better serve the city. Plus, you get to show staff that you appreciate their hard work and accomplishments.

Filming for Salisbury Now.

A final cool project was a video I helped on (I held the boom mic so I am kind of a big deal) for Salisbury Now, which is a television program about what is going on in the City, produced by the communications department and aired on local access TV. These videos can also be viewed online, and are such a neat way to get the information to people like me, who would rather watch a video than read a newsletter.

That’s all for now! Tune in next week for Public Services, and maybe I will fill a pothole!


An actual sidewalk in downtown Salisbury

First off, congratulations for looking at a picture of a sidewalk and thinking “that looks interesting” – you may be in a small but important group of people!

The truth is, sidewalks (like many local government services) are often overlooked or forgotten about because they aren’t the flashiest topic. However, a lot of foresight and planning is put into these sidewalks by people, like the engineers in Salisbury, so that the citizens they serve can get around a little bit easier. For example, sidewalks are built on a 2° slant so that stormwater will run into the gutter, instead of collecting in a puddle that hungrily awaits your brand new shoes. Further, the incline of a sidewalk ramp cannot be greater than 8° for wheelchair access. Oh, and the truncated domes that stick out right before a crosswalk – those help people with vision impairments know when they are about to cross the road. Admittedly, I think most of these features are required for ADA compliance; however, I felt it was worth pointing out the small details that go into making everyone’s commute a little easier. Sidewalks – you don’t think about them (or their features) until they aren’t there.

Just so that you don’t think life in Engineering is all about sidewalks, I’ll move on to some GIS (Geographic Information System). You may recall that I used GIS while with the Planning Department. Well, here it is again, and in case the message hasn’t come across – GIS IS HELPFUL IN MANY WAYS TO LOCAL GOVERNMENTS, SO GO LEARN HOW TO USE IT! Seriously, if you can take a class, you should. I plan on taking one next spring myself.

GIS with Curb and Gutter Layer and Aerial Imagery

Ironically, one of my GIS projects involved…drumroll please…SIDEWALKS (right when you thought you had escaped). The Engineering department is updating the GIS Sidewalk layer to show sidewalks that have been added since the last aerial imagery was taken by Salisbury in 2014. Using the newer aerial imagery from 2018, I traced out every new sidewalk on public streets that I could find (cross your fingers that I got them all), which can then be viewed for various purposes, like tracking sidewalk cleaning.

For my other GIS project, we move slightly off the sidewalk…and onto the curb. Actually though, I used the aerial imagery (and Google Street View when harder to see) to highlight every Salisbury street that has a curb or gutter. This layer (pictured below) will eventually be used to help with street cleaning, insuring that every known curb/gutter and corresponding drain are free of debris so that the stormwater system can work properly.

Close-up of GIS Curb and Gutter Layer
The Entire Curb and Gutter Layer for Salisbury with Stormwater features marked by icons

Engineering may not be in my wheelhouse, but I certainly enjoyed my time in the department. At the very least, it made me appreciate the little things that make a town better for the people that live in it. And yes, I do like sidewalks! What gave it away?


Don’t be fooled – this is NOT City Manager Bailey. It’s just Ben Wyatt on Parks and Recreation (tv show) after becoming City Manager

This was it – my week with Administration. I try not to play favorites, but I am earning a Master of Public ADMINISTRATION degree, so I forgive myself. Plus, I was very excited to learn from City Manager Bailey, a highly regarded City Manager and a great example to follow if you want to be a City Administrator someday (like me).

Monday featured a Management Team meeting in preparation for Tuesday night’s Council Meeting, when the FY20 (Fiscal Year 2019-2020) budget was to be adopted along with an agenda full of other action items. City Manager Bailey went around the room to check with every department, making sure not only that they were good to go, but also that he knew about any potential issues with the council or with people attending the meeting. For example, a Pickleball versus Tennis debate rages on in the City (it’s a long story that I will hopefully get to during my Parks and Rec post), and the Parks and Recreation Director made note that some people may use the public comment period to discuss that debate and how it affected the budget to be adopted.

Monday night, the City hosted a Public Hearing on “Fame,” a statue in the middle of downtown (and actually in the median of a main road, so really in the middle) that is owned by the Daughters of the Confederacy group and has made groups in town uncomfortable. As someone who was on UNC Chapel Hill’s campus when Silent Sam fell, I was very familiar with the debate. We will see what Council decides to do (or not do) after hearing public comment for 2 hours, but I will give my praise to the people of Salisbury for being civil and neighborly despite such a divisive issue.

Tuesday, I was able to shadow and talk with City Manager Bailey. After a check-in conference call with the Police Department (who are having an ironic problem of not getting grants because crime is getting too low to qualify), he had a conversation with a council member wanting to make sure they were fully prepared for the Council Meeting. At the Council Meeting, City Manager Bailey and staff presented the budget with 3 different options in regards to what Council wanted to do with the extra revenue gained by NOT lowering the tax rate, which I thought was an interesting way to make things simpler for council. The budget was adopted (WOOT WOOT) and will be posted here by July 1.

One important note worth mentioning, especially for future City Managers: whenever Council criticized something, Mr. Bailey was adamant that he was recommending the budget because he supported every decision in it, never coming close to blaming staff.

One cool project I have been working on all week is researching community engagement done by local governments across the United States…and a few in Canada. Salisbury has a few great programs, including Community Engagement Walks on Fridays and Chit, Chat, and Chew events, all in different neighborhoods throughout the City. However, staff want to know how they can reach more citizens to increase participation at Council Meetings and other community events. One cool option many cities are doing is to use online engagement, especially through a single website that lists all projects and events. This allows engagement from people who have tough schedules or simply don’t want to go to a Council Meeting (I understand that others don’t love them as much as me). Another interesting option is Participatory Budgeting (PB), where local governments allocate money to projects submitted and voted on by citizens. In fact, we had a conference call with the City of Durham this week, which allocated $2.4 million to PB projects, and lets students under the age of 18 vote as well!

If you want to know more about PB or the City of Durham, go check out Hallee Haygood’s blog! Otherwise, you can stick with me and come back next week for some engineering!!! (seriously though, you should check out the other blogs!)


Toby Flenderson from HR in The Office

I know it may be hard, but try and ignore the impression of HR you got from Toby on The Office (okay, maybe I made it harder by putting a picture of him, but how could i not?). Not only is the Human Resources department more lively, they are also seen and used as a crucial asset by all of the departments in the City.

One of the topics that stuck out to me this week was benefits, which can be a bit of a problem for the City. For example, many people applying to jobs with the City don’t realize or don’t place importance on the great benefits that come with the job. The impression is that many people look at the pay and don’t apply or don’t accept the job because they are only focused on what they take home at the end of the pay period, missing the usually great benefits. This has unfortunately led to a few vacancies, which may require different methods of advertisement in the future. If there is one takeaway: look at benefits as much as you look at pay, because a job could have better perks than you realize.

That moves us on to interviewing! In addition to their daily tasks, each HR staff is a liaison for a few departments with the City and will help out with interviews. While departments can come up with their own question, they will sometimes ask HR for assistance in formulating questions or even style of interview. For example, we met with one department and tossed around some ideas for an interview process involving a supervisory role. One neat interview round idea was to have the applicant run a meeting, while the interviewers all took on personas that the applicant would have to deal with while presenting.

The department also started Salisbury University, which is a form of internal training. The six levels of training that involve an increasing number of classes allow internal staff to learn more about the organization and about being a leader, which ideally leads to promotion further down the line. I viewed this as another perk of the job, as leadership training and the skills it teaches add value to an employee, giving you a better chance at promotion or even skills that you could use in another organization should an opportunity arise. Plus, it shows that Salisbury is investing in its staff, which is a great environment to be a part of.

Last but not least – SWAY (the Salisbury Way). This is the new culture the City of Salisbury is trying to create for itself, and is a customer service oriented culture. In addition to encouraging staff to go above and beyond their duties, SWAY has various committees dedicated to workshopping ideas and spreading SWAY around the City. While SWAY is admittedly still in an early phase with kinks being worked out, it is already making Salisbury a better place to work and live. In one project, City staff could go visit and learn about different departments, which increases their knowledge base and builds a community. My personal favorite (which I think is SWAY related) is the Community Engagement Fridays, when a group of City staff go around a selected neighborhood and ask for feedback in person from citizens, as well as distribute flyers for any upcoming events. This is a great way to connect to citizens, especially if they can’t use the internet or come by the office. SWAY is hard for me to explain, but I definitely feel it when I am here.

City of Salisbury Employees walking a neighborhood during Community Engagement


That’s right. It was my week with Planning! I had an amazing time with the many people and jobs that make up the Planning department in Salisbury. But before I continue, a trivia question: Why can a parcel of land within a certain airport zone NOT have a stormwater pond? The answer is at the end of this post, with the hope that you will accidentally read the whole thing while scrolling down.

I started the week learning a little more about the Comprehensive Plan, which lays out goals for the future quality of life and development in Salisbury with steps the City can take to reach them. The last Comprehensive Plan done by the City was in 2001, so they are due for an update. I had the opportunity to seek out the most recent data from the US Census Bureau in order to measure progress toward community goals. This data included measures such as housing affordability in relation to income, education levels, and employment levels and types. While the Comprehensive Plan is just a guideline, it is the first step in shaping the future of Salisbury.

Zoning is, of course, a very crucial part of planning. Zoning determines what type of development can occur in a certain area of the city and is the reason you don’t find a large industrial park in the middle of a residential neighborhood. One thing I didn’t realize about zoning was how specific the Land Development Ordinance (LDO) can be. For example, a residential zone not only requires a residential unit, but it can be broken down into different types of residential units with a certain number of parking spaces and a certain setback from the road etc. depending on the category. I definitely have a greater appreciation for zoning, knowing now that a lot of thought and planning is involved in simply making the environment around me make sense. Click here to see the current zoning map and some other awesome maps made with GIS (an essential in a planning department and life).

Something that makes Salisbury unique are the national and local historic districts of the City. Driving through downtown, it would be hard to miss the fact that Salisbury cares about preserving its past, with faded Cheerwine murals on worn brick buildings and period houses lining some residential streets. In fact, the local historic districts’ require that owners get permission before making any changes to the exterior of their building, all the way down to approving period colors of paint for historic houses in which people currently live. It sounds burdensome for business owners and homeowners alike, but the citizens love it and I’ll admit that I do, too.

A Brick Company building in the old industrial district repurposed into a retail store.
An old Cheerwine advertisement
Period House that is still in use
The Salisbury Train Station

I would like to mention an amazing program put on by the Planning Department: BlockWork. Through this program, citizens can submit applications for the city to pay for and help clean up a neighborhood block, with the hope of improving property value and encouraging others to clean up their own blocks as well. A large group of volunteers will come out and, with permission, put new paint on the side of houses, clean the landscape, rebuild sidewalks, and even repair a few roofs. It’s a great way of reaching out to the community and helps the City and its neighborhoods look better one block at a time.

Volunteer putting together fence for BlockWork

While I would love to keep going about my week with planning, I have promised an answer to a trivia question and I will deliver. Parcels of land within certain airport zones (yes, Salisbury has a small airport!) cannot have a stormwater pond because those ponds attract geese, which can then fly up into planes taking off and landing. Just another example of an easy-to-miss yet crucial development ordinance that your local government planners are taking care of for you!

Thank you for making it to the end, even if you just scrolled down for the trivia answer! Come back next week for a little Human Resources, and maybe some more local government trivia!

My favorite coffee shop in Salisbury! Koco-Java

Making the City Manager Pay His Taxes

Even the best public administrators make mistakes, which is why it is important to surround yourself with excellent staff (and summer interns of course). My shining moment in my week with Finance came after reading through the proposed budget, when City Manager Lane Bailey walked in and asked me if I had any thoughts. I mentioned my interest in an “Animal Tax” in the budget ordinance that charges $1 per dog, and went on to explain my real concern – that cats were not being charged, too (clearly the tax was created by a cat lover). At this moment, City Manager Bailey realized that he wasn’t aware of this tax and had not paid it for his own dog, pulling out a dollar and handing it to the Finance Director. It was certainly a close call, but thankfully an MPA intern was there to catch the oversight.

On a more serious note, I had some interesting conversations about the budget with finance staff throughout the week. One question I had was why more line-item detail was put in this years’ budget compared to last year. Apparently, a council member (or multiple) requested more information compared to last years’ budget, which mostly had totals for different departments and funds. This prompted another discussion about how the council members shape the budget details and priorities, and specifically how these areas can change with changes in elected officials. This is especially true for Salisbury, as all 5 council seats come up for election at the same time every 2 years, meaning the council could actually be 5 new and completely different people from cycle to cycle.

Another interesting part of Salisbury’s budget is the inclusion of capital replacement funds. That is, the budget already allocates money to replace capital assets when they reach their designated use life, without departments having to request new funds whenever a piece of equipment gets old. For example, when a computer is 4 years old (not sure on the lifetime assigned to a computer but go with it) funds are already there to replace that computer without requiring a department to complain about a slow computer and send in a request for new computers in their next budget. You may have the same question I did – what do you do with the old computer? The City of Salisbury utilizes a website called, which allows local governments to sell equipment to anyone (YES, EVEN YOU!) and make some money back for the City. Supposedly one municipality used the site to sell a whole water tower for $2, but they saved the $50,000 it would have cost them to tear it down as the buyer is responsible for picking it up (I don’t really know how the process of taking a water tower works because I doubt it fits in a truck bed, but I assume the buyer paid for it to be taken apart himself).

I would like to end by mentioning a tougher meeting I attended with Finance this week. Essentially, a department was getting feedback on potentially requesting an expensive but important backup generator setup. The setup would cost nearly $80,000, but would be the backup if the power and first generator went out at the location, potentially providing power to crucial systems during an emergency. Further, the setup would also provide power to the designated Emergency Operations Center that houses those systems, which is a crucial location to have power in emergency situations. It is tough to spend a lot of money on something you hope you never need to use, and while the decision seemed to be in favor of the project, the question then becomes about when you pay for it, especially around fiscal year end.

That does it for Finance Week. Feel free to check out Salisbury’s proposed budget here, and check back later to see the adopted budget (fun fact: Salisbury’s adopted budget includes an Addendum that lists changes between the proposed and the adopted budgets).

Come back next week for Planning!

As a reward for making it through this long post with no pictures, here is my current fav restaurant in Salisbury, Yummi Banh Mi:

Yummi Banh Mi – Vietnamese Streetfood Restaurant




As a small introduction, I am interning with the City of Salisbury this summer, and have the exciting opportunity to jump from department to department every week. So, if you are looking to learn a little more about a bunch of different sides to local government, then you have come to the right place!

My first week with Salisbury was spent with Salisbury-Rowan Utilities (SRU) under Utilities Director Jim Behmer, who is currently earning his MPA at Appalachian State (I don’t hold it against him). One thing I learned from Jim was that employees usually have a preference for either water or wastewater (sewer).

Despite the ripe smell, I found myself fascinated by the wastewater side of things. Without getting too deep into details, the wastewater plant process involves removing things that shouldn’t go down a sink or toilet in the first place (including grease and the so called “flushable” wipes), using microscopic organisms to break down organic matter in the wastewater, and using chemicals like bleach to disinfect the water before it is released back into the Yadkin River. Plus, a bio-solid bi-product can be given out to farmers to use as fertilizer for crops consumed by livestock. It may not be a pretty process, but it involves some fascinating solutions and highlighted for me the importance of educating the public on some proper procedures – don’t poor the grease down the sink, and don’t flush the wet wipe.

While it may seem like common sense to some, I also learned the importance of gravity in the wastewater process. Pumping wastewater is expensive, so SRU utilizes gravity lines wherever possible. This requires a lot of planning and is somewhat like putting a puzzle together, as lines need to go toward the wastewater stations, but always downhill. In fact, both stations are located beside creeks as they are natural low points in the topography. Planning here can mean the difference between spending thousands of dollars to operate a pump station, or letting gravity transport the wastewater for the cost of the pipe alone.

Going back to the water side, I have to bring up what I thought was an example of brilliant problem solving at the water reservoir. As water sits in the large open pits, sunlight reacts with organisms and algae forms on the water. Among the other chemicals added to clean the water is a very expensive chemical that has the sole purpose of killing the algae. In order to cut down on costs with this chemical, SRU put thousands of plastic balls on top of the water to take away the sunlight and, by extension, eliminate algae growth. While the balls were a significant initial cost, SRU was able to eliminate the need for most (if not all) of that particular chemical, which will save the utility a fair amount of money in the long run.

Shade balls on an SRU reservoir

Well (pun definitely intended), that does it for this post. Feel free to comment for more details on anything I did with SRU this week or check out their website here. Come back next week for Finance!