Small Systems Struggle

by John Prendergast, Assoc. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, ASCE World Headquarters, 345 East 47th Street, New York City, NY.,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1992, Vol. 62, Issue 1, Pg. 40-43

Document Type: Feature article


Across the U.S., small communities are caught in a bind. Local governments bear the primary day-to-day burden of caring for public works, responsible for 70% of the nation's roads, as well as most of the water systems, wastewater treatment and solid waste disposal facilities. Yet, they have little control over the shape of their responsibilities. To gain federal transportation dollars, small communities often must construct elaborate new highway projects that leave other pressing needs unfulfilled. New environmental standards impose requirements that many areas have neither the money nor the technical expertise to meet. And, while federal and state governments can shift costs downward, the buck stops at the local level. Squeezed between growing needs and shrinking funds, small communities are struggling as never before to maintain roads and bridges and meet new standards for drinking water, wastewater treatment and solid waste disposal.

Subject Headings: Highways and roads | Water treatment plants | Wastewater treatment | Waste treatment plants | Solid mechanics | Solid wastes | Waste disposal | Federal government

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