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Title: Out of Sight, Out of Mind

By Steven A. Walsh PE, Chief
Engineering & Construction, Department of Public Works

The older my kids get, the more questions I get about my job. I realize more and more that it’s hard for them to understand what I do because you just can’t see much of the end result. 

Our Bureau’s job in DPW is to plan, inspect, design, and construct water, sewer, storm drainage, roads and bridges in the County. We call this infrastructure. Some may call it critical. Life would be very different without these things that most people take for granted. We work hand in hand with Public Work’s other Bureaus (Utilities, Highways, Traffic, and Solid Waste), all of which maintain this infrastructure once it’s constructed. 

The County understands the importance of, and invests heavily in, its infrastructure. Unfortunately the importance of the investment and our work goes largely unnoticed and unseen by the public…as well as my kids, unless I point it out to them. 

It’s understandable. Who really cares about what you don’t see? You expect clean water to flow from the spigot. You expect the stuff going down the commode, and the trash you put out in front of your house, to just go away. You expect the bridge you are driving over – if you even notice it – to not do anything…like move. Unless someone is unhappy with the disruption of a construction project or work being done on the sewer system, infrastructure probably doesn’t come up much in casual conversation. 

With the upcoming National Engineers Week (February 19-25), I thought it appropriate to acknowledge the work of the men and women of DPW who take care of the County’s critical infrastructure.

It’s not magic that causes the water to come out of the spigot – it’s decades of system planning and a whole lot of engineering, construction, and hard work by Public Works’ staff. Even though you can’t see it, it is still very important to our lives. 


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