Headquartered in Orlando, Fla., Orange County’s Public Works Department has one of the nation’s most demanding constituencies. Our 1,000-square-mile service area includes hundreds of miles of drainage assets and 2,800 miles of roads traveled by millions of tourists and residents.

For better or for worse, these two critical infrastructure systems provide never-ending opportunities to try sustainable operations and maintenance initiatives. And that’s just what we’ve done.

The Fleet Management and Roads & Drainage divisions closely collaborate to care for public assets as cost-efficiently as possible. We continually seek new programs, equipment, and materials that can help keep the environment safe for future approval and funding, thereby contributing to the county’s overall sustainability.

Environmentally friendly fluids

On average, we get 4 feet of rain every year. To manage this deluge, the county is laced with 200 miles of primary and secondary canals and several culverts and ditches that channel runoff into 12 drainage basins.

So we couldn’t do without our Menzi Muck excavators. Although more expensive than standard hydraulic oils, the machines use biodegradable hydraulic oil formulated by Panolin America Inc., of Ventura, Calif.

The synthetic fluid doesn’t break down under normal use and lasts as long as the machine if it doesn’t become contaminated. Performance and environmental benefits lower maintenance and clean-up costs over the machine’s life.

We’ve also switched to an alternative fuel. The Fleet Management Division converted our maintenance facility’s fuel island to dispense biodiesel. There’s no difference in performance, so all new equipment is specified to run on biodiesel as well as gasoline.

Next page: Equipment retrofit improves environment, Pollutant separators