Public Works and Utilities Newsletter

Paving The Way For A Brighter Future By Educating, Engaging And Empowering Our Employees.

Solid Waste Begins Collecting Landfill Gas

In 2008, the City of Lincoln and Lincoln Electric System (LES) began an exciting joint venture to generate electricity by using methane from the Bluff Road Landfill. Recently, the engines at LES's Terry Bundy Generating Station (TBGS) began generating electricity from this source. The gas is extracted from the landfill through a network of 54 wells placed 40 to 100 feet into in the waste. The gas is cleaned and piped to the TBGS where three large methane-powered engines generate electricity.

Under the 20-year contract, LES will purchase as much as 300,000 million British Thermal Units of methane gas from the City each year to help serve the annual energy needs of about 2,500 households. "Together, we are taking a major step forward in providing renewable energy that will benefit residents for decades to come through a cleaner environment, a local source of energy, continued low utility rates and the unlocking of new economic development," said Mayor Beutler.

Landfill gas is naturally produced by decomposing garbage. It consists of about 50 percent methane, and 45 percent carbon dioxide. The remaining 5 percent is made up of other gases such as nitrogen and oxygen. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that methane is over 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide in terms of global warming potential. Methane is the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the U.S. By creating the opportunity to capture the landfill gas and use the methane to generate electricity, officials estimate that the reduction in carbon emissions will be equivalent to the annual emissions of about 24,000 cars.

Staff at the landfill will operate and maintain the wells, the equipment that extracts the gas from the landfill and the equipment that cleans the gas. LES employees will operate and maintain the pipeline, the electricity-generating engines and the switchgear that allows the electricity to flow to the power transmission lines.

For additional information, visit (keyword: landfill).

Ribbon cutting  for the new landfill gas system Cutting the ribbon for the new landfill gas system are Marilyn McNabb, LES Board Chair; Mayor Beutler; and Kevin Wailes, LES Administrator and CEO.

Water Meter Replacement Program Under Way

(LWS) is beginning a 20-year meter replacement program. About 4,000 meters will be replaced each year. Over a 10-year period beginning in 1997, LWS implemented an automated meter reading system. These meters transmit readings to a mobile collector device mounted in a vehicle, allowing one employee to more accurately collect over 3,500 readings every day with no intrusion on private property.

The radio device that transmits the readings uses non-replaceable batteries, which unfortunately lose power over time. Although these batteries are projected to have an average life of 20 years, officials predict a significant number will fail before that. LWS will begin by replacing the meters installed in southwest Lincoln nearly 17 years ago.

Water meter Only 79,376 water meters to go...
QR code for Water Meter Replacement Program video (YouTube)

Visit or use the QR code for a video on the water meter replacement program.

Strong Lincs

There Is No ‘Division’ Among Our Divisions.

- Miki Esposito

PWU Director Miki Esposito is pleased to announce the Strong Linc Award recipients for the workplace principle of collaboration. Please congratulate these Strong Lincs for their valued service:

The following individuals are recognized for their team effort for pre-planning and for providing the smooth traffic flow for Husker football games:

  • Scott Opfer (Engineering Services Street and Traffic Operations)
  • Larry Jochum, Kelly Sieckmeyer, Greg Topil, Shane Dostal (EngineeringServices Traffic Operations)
  • Jim Tompsett (Engineering Services Signing and Striping)
  • Erin Sokolik (Engineering Services Design Construction)
  • Mike Weston (StarTran)
  • Tony Bisesi (Urban Development Parking Services)
  • Kim Koluch; Ed Sheridan (Lincoln Police Department)
  • Roger Kalkwarf (Nebraska Department of Roads)
Jared Nelson (Watershed Management)
Jared is the City project manager for the Lincoln Children's Zoo Water Quality Education Project that includes drainage improvements and water quality features at the zoo. This multiagency project is in collaboration with the Zoo, Lower Platte South Natural Resources District, Lincoln Parks and Recreation and the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality.
Wayne Harpin and Jim Tompsett (Engineering Services Signing and Striping)
Wayne and Jim are recognized for their collaborative work with a citizen in the South Salt Creek neighborhood. She reported that Wayne and Jim were "absolutely wonderful to work with" and praised them for their customer service skills and support.
Tim Gulbrandson, Ron Swanson and Brad Barber (Wastewater Treatment)

This group successfully created and implemented an operation and maintenance plan to safely transfer 3.3 million gallons of anaerobic digester bio-solids between process structures to facilitate construction activities in the digester complex at the Theresa Street Wastewater Treatment Facility. Because of their collaborative efforts with Wastewater, consulting engineers and contractor staff, 440,000 cubic feet of digester methane gas was also safely transferred and completely used for the generation of electricity.

Ron Wigle, Larry Smisek and Roger Helmick also worked very closely with the project team and made significant contributions to put the City's portion of the work ahead of schedule.

Rex Jordan, Phil Deschane, and Frank Newell (Wastewater Treatment)

These three individuals collaborate on a daily basis with division and department staff to provide assistance in many phases of our daily operation:

  • Working closely with operations, maintenance and supervisory staff, Rex prioritizes and schedules electrical and instrumentation work for minimal interruption to our treatment process operations. Rex also chairs the Section Safety Committee, routinely training staff in the proper use of electrical testing equipment for safe access into panels or to troubleshoot equipment failures.
  • Phil manages the treatment facilities' computerized maintenance management system (CMMS) which automatically creates operational and maintenance work orders for about 4,500 equipment assets used by the two Wastewater treatment facilities and the remote wastewater and stormwater pumping stations. He works closely with Wastewater staff to provide training and support for effective use of the CMMS and PC hardware.
  • Frank manages the treatment facilities' supervisory, control and data acquisition system to provide Wastewater staff with computer-aided remote monitoring and control of treatment processes and data management. Frank works closely with staff to create and maintain operator interface computer screens and to provide updated programming. In person or remotely connected, Frank is never far from our operations.

City Officials Respond to Roundabout Concerns

A roundabout professional reviewing the large number of crashes occurring at the 14th and Superior roundabout revealed two surprising results – the roundabout can handle much more traffic, and visibility is too good. "At most intersections, we create as much capacity and sight distance as possible, so this was unusual," said Devin Biesecker, Engineering Services.

To mitigate the crash problem, the roundabout's outside traffic lane was removed, and fences were erected to limit visibility as motorists approach. Other minor changes to pavement markings, signing and nearby pedestrian signals will also help reduce the number of crashes. Lincoln's other roundabouts, even multi-lane roundabouts, have not experienced significant crash numbers, usually faring better than the intersections that preceded their construction. The proposed changes should improve safety at 14th and Superior.

The previous signalized intersection consistently ranked as one of the highest crash locations in the City prior to the roundabout. For more information visit (keyword: roundabouts).

Who's Been Reading?


  • 2. This compost, produced from yard waste, is an excellent soil conditioner.
  • 4. This fund is supported by utility revenues.
  • 6. There is no ___ among our divisions.
  • 7. StarTran's Husker football shuttle service
  • 8. Public Works Week month
  • 9. Landfill gases are comprised mostly of ___.
  • 10. Water conservation poster contest winners are in this school grade.
  • 12. PWU: Paving the way for a brighter future by educating, ___ and empowering our employees
  • 14. The month of the first PWU newsletter issue
  • 15. A top priority for the Director
  • 16. This construction company was the first recipient of Engineering Services Golden Shovel Award.
  • 17. The type of new phone system
  • 18. A winter nuisance for drivers
  • 19. Types of e-mails being sent in an effort to better communicate with staff


  • 1. Well fields that supply Lincoln's drinking water are located in the ___ valley aquifer.
  • 3. National Safety Month
  • 5. In compliance with the Clean Water Act, the City holds a permit to discharge ___.
  • 10. Stuff the Bus is an annual event to help the ___.
  • 11. Reduce, Reuse, ___
  • 13. This is one of four items that can create a blockage in a sewer pipe.
  • 20. On Husker game days, 160 ___ along 10 corridors run on different patterns than normal Saturdays.

Crossword was produced by Discover Education

Show Answers

2. LinGro
4. Enterprise
6. Division
7. Big Red Express
8. May
9. Methane
10. Fifth
12. Engaging
14. February
15. Safety
16. Lipsey
17. VOIP
18. Potholes
19. Alerts
1. Platte River
3. June
5. Stormwater
10. Friendship Home
11. Recycle
13. Grease
20. Signals

Upcoming Events

Saturday through Wednesday, October 26 through 30
StarTran shuttle for Boo At The Zoo
Lincoln Children's Zoo
4:30 to 9 p.m.
Saturdays November 2, 16 and 29
Big Red Express Husker Football Shuttle

More PWU Events...

Upcoming Construction Projects

Construction projects and street closures can be found at (keyword: closures).


Daylight Savings Time will end at 2 a.m. Sunday, November 3

Dollar$ & Cent$

Public Works and Utilities (PWU) manages some of the most capital-intensive operations in City government. A quick look at the City of Lincoln's Capital Improvement Program (CIP) confirms that PWU accounts for 45 percent of the CIP, with Lincoln Electric System taking an equal share. Lincoln's City Charter describes capital improvements as property, equipment or facility improvements with a lifetime of 15 years or greater. The sources for the funds to build CIP projects varies greatly from division to division.

Streets and other transportation projects are funded from a combination of gas tax, wheel tax and impact fees. Many of the gas tax dollars are channeled through State and federal agencies.

Water and Wastewater improvements come in the form of pipelines, and pumping and treatment facilities. These improvements are funded primarily from utility revenues from customers, impact fees or borrowed money (bonds or State Revolving Fund loans), which are repaid in future years.

Because they have a longer life, StarTran buses are also considered Capital Improvements. These are paid for with both general revenues and federal funds.

Solid Waste Operations provides locations to dispose of waste as well as recycling programs and sites. Landfill tipping fees and the solid waste occupation tax provide the financial resources for these improvements.

Watershed Management projects are funded by general obligation bonds, which require a vote of the citizens. A bond issue is generally scheduled for an election every other year. State and federal funds and/or grants provide additional funding.

Repair and replacement of deteriorating infrastructure and projects that serve a growing community are both necessary. Pressures to hold down rates and taxes will continue to provide the right balance of CIP projects for the future of Lincoln.

Sidewalk Repair Program

In September, PWU allotted $50,000 to assist citizens in getting their sidewalks repaired through a reimbursement program. Reimbursement funds were available on a first-come, first-served basis until the money was exhausted. Interested property owners called with requests. If approved, they paid for the initial repairs and submitted receipts for reimbursement. PWU maintains a list of requests that were not approved at this time in case more funds become available. Reimbursement rates are $3 per square foot for mud-jacking and $4 per square foot for replacement. Tina Queen and Barnie Blum oversee the process to ensure timely responses to requests. Sidewalks must meet minimum qualifications to qualify for the program. For more information, visit (keyword: sidewalks).

All available issues

June/July 2013 PDF 

  • Respect And Civility At Work
  • City Resources
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Condolences to Jeff Grove's Friends and Family
  • Service Awards
  • Something For The Kids: Dig Into Reading
  • Stormwater Runoff
  • Mayor's Award of Excellence for April
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – City Council Approves Drought Rates
  • Water Conservation Poster Contest Winners
  • Flashing Yellow Arrows

April/May 2013 PDF 

  • Spring is Here!
  • Davis to Serve as StarTran Transit Manager
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Whisenhunt Presented Mayor's Award of Excellence for January
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Morris Receives March Award of Excellence
  • Employee Training and Recognition Event
  • Golden Shovel and Platinum Pen Awards
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Managing the Cost of Electrical Power
  • Summer Water Restrictions Again Possible

February/March 2013 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: Laying the Groundwork
  • Call Before You Dig
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • Condolences to Warren Wondercheck's Friends and Family
  • 2013 Home & Garden Show
  • Welcome Frank Uhlarik!
  • StarTran Stuff the Bus
  • StarTran 31-Consecutive Day Bus Pass Has New Lower Price!
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Funding Utility Services
  • Lincoln's Biosolids Land Application Program: 20 Years Old and Going Strong
  • PWU Recognized at NWEA Conference

December 2012 / January 2013 PDF 

  • Lincoln Water System Utility Supervisors Vital to Asset Management
  • StarTran 2012 Big Red Express
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Brian Dittmann and Steve Titus are Retiring!
  • PWU Teams Up With Lincoln Public School Students
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Engineering Services
  • Municipal Services Center Continues Renovations
  • PWU Praised for Cooperative Efforts

October/November 2012 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: We Endure
  • City of Lincoln Wellness Program
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • A Farewell Note...
  • September Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • The Drought of 2012
  • Prepping for Snow
  • Wellness Initiatives
  • StarTran Serves 2,000,000 Riders

August/September 2012 PDF 

  • Public Works and Utilities Runs Defense
  • VoIP
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Leadership Link Manager of the Year
  • July Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • Taylor Buss: Public Works and Utilities Ambassador
  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – Asset Management: A Commitment to a Sustainable Community
  • Wastewater FROGs
  • StarTran Receives Environmental Leadership Award

June/July 2012 PDF 

  • Dollar$ & Cent$ – "Color of Money"
  • Sidewalks: A Change in Responsibilities
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • John Ottoson is Retiring!
  • Kennedy Receives Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • Public Works Day Celebrated During Waterfest
  • 2011 Mayor's Award of Excellence Honorable Mention: Jose Regueira
  • June is National Safety Month
  • Safety is Director's Top Priority
  • Compost Program Nearing Anniversary
  • Water Conservation Poster Contest Winners

April/May 2012 PDF 

  • Director's Corner: Who We Are
  • E-mail "Alerts"
  • National Public Works Week
  • Strong Linc Awards
  • Service Awards
  • February Mayor's Award of Excellence
  • PWU Active in Sustainability Events
  • Stuff the Bus
  • Double Roundabout Wins Prestigious ACEC Honor Award
  • 56th and Elkcrest Water Main Breaks
  • Clean Water Program
  • Golden Shovel Award

February/March 2012 PDF 

  • PWU Director Esposito Appoints Marketing Committee
  • Snow Removal Effort Receives Multiple Compliments
  • Employee Kudos!
  • Terry Ullsperger Receives Award From HBAL
  • 2012 Home & Garden Show
  • StarTran Sees 20 Percent Increase in Ridership Over Two Years
  • City Has Filled More Than 7,000 Potholes This Winter
  • We're Listening: Why does it take so long to clear my cul-de-sac?

Marketing Committee Members

*Newsletter Committee Member

Kitty Elliott
Clay Engelman
*Kris Humphrey
Lance Loschen
Kyle Williams
*Meagan Pratt
Michelle Zuhlke
Rock Krzycki
Gene Hanlon
*Michele Abendroth

Marketing Team Wants You!

Are you a PWU employee interested in becoming a member of the Marketing Team? If so, please contact Ellen Wright at 402-441-7075.