Cincinnati Leading Transformative Utility Management Approach
Water Works Providing Billing & Contact Center Services For Utility In Alexandria, VA
Utility leaders from around the country joined with Greater Cincinnati Water Works (GCWW) and the Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) today, to talk about sophisticated management approaches, innovative green infrastructure techniques and new utility-to-utility partnerships that are transforming the way utilities think and operate.
These innovative changes, designed to keep costs low while also maintaining high quality utility services, are in reaction to increasing regulatory pressures, strained utility budgets and skyrocketing capital expenses.
"The water and wastewater community is in the midst of a rebirth. The water paradigm in the US is changing and we need to keep costs low, while also maintaining high quality utility services," said Tony Parrott, MSD Executive Director. "Utilities are transforming the way they view themselves, their relationships with one another and their communities. They are adapting to become the ‘utility of the future’ and Cincinnati is leading the way."
In effort to adapt, Parrott announced that GCWW is partnering with Alexandria Renew Enterprises to provide billing and customer call center services for the wastewater utility in Alexandria, VA. GCWW is also providing billing and customer call center services to Lexington-Fayette Urban County Government (LFUCG) in Lexington, Ky.
"By sharing our expertise and providing needed utility services to others, we can begin to expand our product offerings to keep costs low for our ratepayers," Parrott said.
"The utility of the future is about strategic public-private partnerships. Thanks to Alexandria Renew Enterprises' collaboration with Greater Cincinnati Water Works, we have a billing system that works, with a well-run customer service center. And if our Board of Director approves it next Tuesday, we’ll announce changes in our rates that will result in a lower bill, about $6.78 less per quarter, for our ratepayers. All because of our partnership with Greater Cincinnati Water Works," said Alexandria Renew Enterprises Chief Executive Officer Karen Pallansch.
Parrott shared that potable water usage in the Cincinnati area has declined 16% per account over the last six years -- a $14.5 million loss -- and MSD is facing increasing infrastructure costs in order to comply with a federal consent decree.
In addition, to offset the drop in revenue and increasing capital costs, GCWW and MSD are combining administrative services to save between $68 - $105 million over 10 years.
MSD is implementing a newly U.S. EPA approved and nationally recognized wet weather solution to remove 1.78 billion gallons of combined sewer overflows annually from the Mill Creek. This alternative plan will save greater Cincinnati about $200 million (2006 dollars) from the original deep-tunnel plan while also improving water quality, creating new jobs and opportunities for neighborhood revitalization.
Together, these two innovations are anticipated to save the Cincinnati community an estimated $300 million.
Utility leaders are in Cincinnati through July 17 for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) 2013 summer conference, being held at the Cincinnati Hilton Netherland Plaza.
"One of the many reasons we come to national water conferences like this one is to learn from other communities like Cincinnati," said Kevin Shafer, Executive Director of the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District. "We can learn about new techniques and partnerships and potential opportunities and take those back to our community."
Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewer District is a regional government agency that provides water reclamation and flood management services for about 1.1 million customers in 28 communities in the Greater Milwaukee Area.
Alexandria Renew Enterprises is located in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, and serves approximately 350,000 customers in the City and part of Fairfax County. In 2012, AlexRenew cleaned over 12.5 billion gallons of wastewater.
GCWW and MSD are renowned for leading innovation in the water and wastewater industry. Water Works has pioneered advances in water treatment for the past 100 years including rapid-sand filtration, the use of chlorine and granular activated carbon. The utility will soon be the largest water utility in North America to use ultraviolet (UV) disinfection following sand-filtration and GAC when its UV treatment facility is completed later this year.
MSD is regarded as a national leader in the development of sustainable stormwater management solutions and asset management. The Wet Weather Strategy that MSD is implementing in the City of Cincinnati is viewed as a model for other urban communities across the U.S. that are under Federal mandates to reduce combined sewer overflows.