2010 Platinum Award for Utility Excellence

Winners of the 2010 AMWA Platinum Awards for Utility Excellence were:

  • Austin Water Utility

  • City of Bellevue Utilities

  • City of Boca Raton Utility Services

  • El Paso Water Utilities

  • City of Glendale Utilities

  • Department of Utility Services, City of Henderson

  • Newport News Waterworks

The Austin Water Utility uses asset management and a thorough performance measurement system to significantly cut costs while increasing efficiency. A culture of continual improvement and environmental stewardship pushes the utility to make greater use of water and energy conservation and sustainability practices to strengthen its future water resource supply and reduce environmental impact. Austin Water has implemented sound, conservative financial management practices to strategically plan for the future and attain stable bond ratings. Its stakeholders and over-sight bodies are fully engaged to work hand-in-hand to identify standards, discuss future demands and implement publicly acceptable rates.

To provide exceptional public service, the City of Bellevue Utilities Department uses tools including audits, surveys, benchmarking and continuous improvement programs. Performance measures are tracked to gauge effectiveness, efficiency and workload. Advanced asset management tools are in place, and asset data is used for financial planning. The Department’s renewal and replacement fund accumulates funds to maintain and replace aging infrastructure, and a high bond rating is maintained without the use of debt financing and with reasonable incremental rate increases. Commitment to sustainability and environmental protection is demonstrated with successful public education and outreach programs, which have produced significant results for water conservation and environmental health.

Boca Raton Utility Services strives to sustain excellence by balancing regulatory mandate requirements, benchmarking established levels of service, achieving financial stability and ensuring employee sustainability. Through the evolution of its strategic planning program, the department has continued to adapt, enhance and transform its processes to effectively manage these elements. It continues to meet the strategic goals related to customer satisfaction, financial stability and product reliability. By advocating commitment to technology and innovation through programs, educational processes and a dynamic organizational structure that maximizes employees’ knowledge and skills, the utility is developing sustainable employee succession.

El Paso Water Utilities shares water resources with three states and two countries, which dictates a proactive water management strategy that focuses on policy, planning and technology. Guided by its strategic plan and with input from key constituents and stakeholders, the utility has aggressively implemented its strategic goals and objectives. Predictions of unsustainable groundwater pumping were mitigated by implementing total water management, and other management initiatives have reduced and deferred operating cost, improved safety and efficiency, and reduced gas and electricity costs while conserving natural resources. The average residential bill, among the lowest in the Southwest, reflects the utility’s competitive rate structure and financial stability.

The City of Glendale Utilities Department has a record of providing exemplary water services while maintaining regulatory compliance. Major infrastructure improvements include new surface water and groundwater treatment plants, replacement and installation of water lines, improvements to existing water treatment plants and construction of state‐of‐the-art water security monitoring systems. The department also implemented robust sewer cleaning, aggressive meter testing and water production optimization programs to reduce electrical, chemical and water resources costs. Human resources initiatives improve employee skills, productivity and operational flexibility, and sound financial programs – such as benchmarking, gap analysis and strategic business plans – promote financial stability.

The City of Henderson’s Department of Utility Services has in place a progressive management structure that supports process improvement, operational optimization and resiliency and employee development. For the past decade, the utility has successfully supported double-digit growth in the community while responding to the worst drought in history on the Colorado River System, its primary source of drinking water. Even with the substantial effects of drought and growth on its resources and infrastructure, customer rate adjustments have been kept below the rate of inflation and customer satisfaction maintained at levels above 90 percent.

Newport News Waterworks completed $400 million in capital improvements between 1990 and 2010, yet staffing levels today are lower than in 1990. Over this same period, residential bills increased less than 3 percent per year (taking into account reduced water usage). Its system reliability rating of 99.997 percent equates to only a two-hour outage every ten years on average. The utility reduced leaks in its distribution system and replaced its billing system. Water quality was improved via the addition of ozone as primary disinfectant and a follow‐up manganese removal project. Waterworks also earned the E4 environmental designation, the highest level awarded by Virginia’s Department of Environmental Quality.