2015 Platinum Award for Utility Excellence

Winners of the 2015 AMWA Platinum Awards for Utility Excellence were:

  • Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility
  • Aurora Water
  • Boston Water and Sewer Commission
  • Denver Water
  • East Bay Municipal Utility District
  • Las Vegas Valley Water District
  • Scottsdale Water
  • South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority

Anchorage Water & Wastewater Utility embraces continuous improvement.  New metrics enhance its management toolbox – quantifying pipeline break statistics, equipment performance, employee engagement and customer satisfaction.  The utility tracks employee suggestions, public concerns, capital investment decisions and other actions to maintain public accountability and transparency.  Staff development is promoted throughout the utility. Reliable infrastructure, responsible finances and professional service promote public health and protect the environment.

Aurora Water strives for excellence through development of an integrated water master plan, key divisional reorganizations, a new compensation model and extensive performance metrics. Two of its treatment facilities earned Phase IV Excellence in Water designations from the Partnership for Safe Drinking Water.  Aurora Water’s potable reuse system provides the foundation for the first regional water-sharing partnerships of its kind. Its energy master plan outlines clear-cut goals to guarantee it is conducting business responsibly.

Boston Water and Sewer Commission’s asset management approach, combined with an active leak detection and flushing program, dramatically reduced water pipe failures and produced a drop in unbilled water from 48 percent to 14 percent.  Installation of automatic meter readers increased customer satisfaction and allowed for billing based on actual usage.  Programs are in place to assist ratepayers when an emergency occurs with their personal sewer or water line.  IT infrastructure improvement is ongoing to become more proactive and limit costs to ratepayers.

Denver Water is becoming a “Lean” organization, and process improvements made by employees have resulted in over $5 million of savings. Operating costs are trending down, the total number of injuries has dropped 26 percent and unplanned customer-outage hours have decreased 32 percent. It helped initiate collaboration among Colorado River stakeholders and has a scenario approach to water supply planning, capital budgeting and long-range financial planning.  The utility is redeveloping its operating campus to increase efficiency, provide better customer service, and create an attractive workplace. For emergency planning it has completed a fully redundant disaster-recovery facility and disaster-specific plans.

The East Bay Municipal Utility District (EBMUD) has completed a $482 million project to deliver supplemental water supplies, greatly improving resiliency.  Its Business Continuity Program minimizes disruptions of critical business functions and enhances its capability to recover operations expediently following an event that causes business interruptions. The program includes preparing plans, conducting training and exercises, completing mitigation activities and performing outreach efforts. EBMUD proactively replaces pipelines to maintain high reliability and customer service. Its replacement rate will double from 7.5 miles per year to 15 miles in FY 2016 and will continue to increase to about 40 miles per year in 2025-2035.

In the past decade, the Las Vegas Valley Water District’s economic environment provided a catalyst for change and organizational redirection. Focus shifted from capital projects to keep up with demand to an emphasis on operations and maintenance. Investments were made to maintain the existing water delivery system, rather than expand it. The District became leaner and more efficient. A company-wide strategic planning effort led to process changes that provide for a more effective organization.

Prior to the early 1980s, Scottsdale Water relied 100 percent on groundwater for its drinking water supplies.  Today, through strategic planning, innovation and community support, it has a diverse water portfolio with approximately 90 percent of its drinking water coming from renewable surface water supplies. The utility operates sophisticated indirect potable reuse facilities and recharges an average of 1.4 billion gallons of purified recycled water into the aquifer annually – pumping less groundwater out of the aquifer than it recharges back in since 2006.

The South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority strategic plan sets a course to reduce costs and target inefficiencies.  It developed a 10-year financial stability model, instituted workforce flexibility and succession planning, optimized operations to reduce costs and increase product quality, and made safety a strategic focus. The Authority maintains a customer satisfaction index of over 90 percent.  It focuses on employee and leadership development; ensures operational resiliency and continuity of operations; contributes to regional sustainability; and provides efficient, sustainable capital planning and delivery.