City streamlines, creates Public Works Dept.
The city of Aspen is taking steps to become more efficient.It has streamlined its water, streets and electric departments into one new Public Works Department. The main reason: to increase conservation efforts. The City Council charged Phil Overeynder, the new director of public works, to initiate the change, mostly in water and electric conservation.As a result, the Public Works Department has added a new position: conservation analyst. Jeff Rice, previously a water plant distribution operator, will take on the new position. He will teach people about the high cost of water and electricity, as well as educate them about grants and how to reduce usage.”A significant portion of our largest water and electric use comes from only a few customers,” Overeynder said. “They are the people we want to target and educate about how to reduce their use. There are a lot of resources out there for people to learn about conservation, like grants from CORE for rebates on energy efficient appliances.”Rice also will be taking over tap fee assessments for new construction projects. He will show homeowners, before they move into new homes, how to cut back on their water use.The Public Works Department has also added two other positions, which have yet to be filled. A new utilities engineer will assist Overeynder in representing the city in policy discussions related to water and electric issues on the local, state and regional level. A new maintenance technician will help take care of the grounds, facilities and other daily maintenance needs.With the reorganization, existing staff will take on more responsibility. For Overeynder, that means focusing more of his attention on statewide water issues.”The population is growing exponentially, and the City Council wanted more of my attention on water issues,” he said. “We need to protect our interests here in the Roaring Fork Valley to make sure instream flows and use issues are not overlooked.”
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