2005 Platinum Award for Sustained Competitiveness Achievement

Winners of the 2005 AMWA Platinum Awards for Sustained Competitiveness Achievement were:

  • Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority
  • Broward County Water and Wastewater Services
  • Butler County Department of Environmental Services
  • Greater Cincinnati Water Works
  • East Bay Municipal Utility District
  • City of Fort Wayne City Utilities
  • City of Henderson Department of Utility Services
  • Kansas City Water Services Department
  • Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department
  • Nashville Metro Water Services
  • City of Norfolk Department of Utilities
  • Orange County Utilities Water Division
  • Portland Water District
  • Tampa Water Department

In 2003, the Albuquerque Water and Sewer Utility became the multi-jurisdictional Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority. The utility moved forward with multiple initiatives to improve its services, ensure water supply to meet future demand, fulfill increasingly stringent water and wastewater quality requirements, and create a more efficient and effective organization.

Broward County Water and Wastewater Services showed its commitment to competitive initiatives in many ways, including a financial plan that called for the cash financing of many renewal and replacement projects at a level equal to annual system depreciation. The budget maintained high quality services for its customers, maximized efficiencies, and continued an aggressive capital improvement program while minimizing rate increases. The utility implemented a long-term capital improvement modernization program for its operating plants and an extensive rebuild program for its neighborhoods and underground structures.

Improvement initiatives at the Butler County Department of Environmental Sciences allowed the utility to successfully control costs, provide high-quality water and sewer service, and exhibit exceptional environmental stewardship through public outreach programs. In recent regionalization initiatives, Butler County joined with four neighboring water and sewer utilities and three municipalities to provide service to County residents, assuring customers of an adequate supply of water and high levels of service at reasonable rates.

The Greater Cincinnati Water Works utilized the Strategic Business Plan process to provide a blueprint for its competitive efforts. A performance measurement system ensured its focus on the issues identified by customer surveys. Use of technology, such as the conversion of its meter reading to a radio read setup, reduced operational costs and provided improved customer service. Distribution system, water treatment plants and plant process improvements provided an abundant supply of high quality water at a reasonable cost and positioned Cincinnati to expand services and further spread costs.

Many of the accomplishments of the East Bay Municipal Utility District were guided by its strategic plan and included the creation of a new centralized customer contact system, implementation of an ongoing energy management strategy, and the establishment of employee development programs to build supervisory and leadership skills. A new customer contact system improved customer response and tracking for greater efficiency. The energy management strategy resulted in a hydropower revenue increase of over $2 million annually while simultaneously reducing energy purchase costs by nearly $1 million each year.

Fort Wayne City Utilities sustained a competitive edge through benchmarking, strategic business planning, listening to its customers, using technology, and improving efficiency and effectiveness. Its business plan was used to drive the allocation of resources and to ensure the achievement of its goals in regulatory compliance, application of technology, stakeholder involvement, asset management and organizational excellence.

The City of Henderson Utility Services played a significant role in the City's upgraded bond rating, achieving an exceptional safety record and gaining community support for extensive capital programs to support growth, and continuing to provide value priced products. In the past decade, the utility successfully responded to serious drought and double-digit growth in the community. During this time, it increased rates less than the rate of inflation and maintained customer satisfaction at 90 percent.

The Kansas City Water Services Department's 10-year competitive business plan includes performance targets and action items to upgrade infrastructure and facilities, improve service levels and minimize annual operating costs. The plan aims to reduce response and repair time to main breaks while increasing the performance of more preventative maintenance and doubling the amount of capital projects the Engineering Services Divisions oversees.

With a goal of continuous improvement, Nashville's Metro Water Services began a government-wide strategic planning and performance measurement initiative called Results Matter. The utility introduced new technology such as GIS, automated meter reading and an engineering document management system, and implemented a mobile dispatch, all of which led to improvements in customer and employee satisfaction, productivity and cost.

To improve services, the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department implemented an Efficiency Business Plan with benchmarks, staffing plans and 120 opportunities for improvements. The utility worked towards improvements by empowering employees to submit new ideas, implementing efficiency projects, providing financial incentives to employees for documented efficiency savings, and investing in employees through a comprehensive training program, competitive salary adjustments and a bonus incentive program. These initiatives proved successful as the utility's water and sewer rates are among the lowest in the country. In a resident satisfaction survey, 87 percent of Miami-Dade customers rated services as good to excellent.

The City of Norfolk Department of Utilities achieved competitiveness through benchmarking nationally and partnering with 17 localities regionally. The department conducted focus groups for customer feedback, and maintained excellent communication between top leadership and employees. It partnered with two local universities to research better reservoir management and water treatment techniques, and also offers on-site degree programs for employees. In addition, the department conducted planning for hurricanes and other emergencies and participated on technical advisory committees to develop statewide water supply planning regulations.

Technological and organizational strategies helped the Orange County Utilities Water Division maintain its competitive edge. Major technological accomplishments included a state-of-the-art laboratory, a SCADA room that is fully operational 24/7, and Maximo, the wireless Computer Maintenance Management System that has allowed field staff to process work orders more efficiently. The Florida utility increased security at its facilities, expanded water conservation programs and completed conversion from gaseous chlorine to hypochlorite.

The Portland Water District measures its success through customer satisfaction. The District reduced water rates in 1999 and 2000, and since then rates have remained stable. Early on, the District understood it needed to take charge of an evolving industry and aging workforce by becoming a leader in water and wastewater training. A state-of-the-art development center was constructed, and partnerships were formed to conduct quality workforce development programs. Communication with both internal and external customers has been a high priority.

The Tampa Water Department focused on continuous organizational improvement using the Networked Talent Model and process improvement teams. Training is targeted in leadership, management, team and task skills for employees at all levels. Performance indicators were developed and benchmarked against industry leaders. Results from these comparative analyses were integrated back into the strategic and tactical planning processes and immediately incorporated when applicable. Technology is a strong part of existing and planned programs, including GIS, asset management, process improvements and data management.