2013 Platinum Award for Utility Excellence

Winners of the 2013 AMWA Platinum Awards for Utility Excellence were:

  • City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities
  • Louisville Water Company
  • Onondaga County Water Authority
  • City of Palm Bay Utilities Department
  • San Diego County Water Authority
  • Western Virginia Water Authority

The Division of Water in the City of Columbus Department of Public Utilities has implemented effective utility management processes, including strategic planning, asset management, benchmarking, environmental management and employee training. Successes were also realized in updating water treatment processes, achieving fiscal responsibility, enhancing community outreach and improving customer service. A $700 million dollar capital improvement program is addressing aging infrastructure, the latest regulations, population growth and the Division’s vision to provide the best quality drinking water. Other important facets of its operations include innovations in water treatment, reduction in chemical use, implementation of business case evaluations and reliability-centered maintenance.

Louisville Water Company has a rich history of dedication to quality and continuous improvement. Recent honors include the Partnership for Safe Water Phase IV “Excellence in Water Treatment” Award, the “Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award” for riverbank filtration and tunnel technology, and the “Excellence in Distribution System Operation Award.” In addition to its 2013 S&P AAA rating, in 2012 Louisville Water achieved its highest customer satisfaction rating from the “Customer Service Index.” Employees volunteered over 5,700 hours to 117 organizations throughout the community and contributed more than $200,000 to Fund for the Arts, Metro United Way and Water for People.

To address its workforce needs, Onondaga County Water Authority (OCWA) developed an in-house succession planning program to enhance skills of management and supervisory personnel as well as staff members interested in advancing within the organization. To improve efficiencies and address both customer needs and system needs, OCWA invested heavily in automated and enhanced systems for billing, accounting, asset management, work management, GIS, SCADA and the employee training to see these systems operate successfully through one unified database. A comprehensive budgeting process that includes annual and long-term O&M budgets, coupled with annual and long-range capital budgets, has been developed and implemented throughout the organization.

The City of Palm Bay Utilities Department (PBUD) incorporates the Effective Utility Management Attributes into its daily operational procedures and processes through its Environmental Management System known as GreenWay. By tracking and measuring operational performance throughout the organization, PBUD has made continual improvements to optimize efficiencies and services. The Department continues to see a reduction in energy use due to its plant optimization programs and continues to champion the City’s Sustainability Master Plan. Some of PBUD’s continuous improvement initiatives include: a revised distribution sampling plan, a uni-directional flushing program, EGIS mapping applications, expanded asset tracking and enhanced customer service processes and communication.

The San Diego County Water Authority staff has scrutinized each element of the agency to squeeze out inefficiencies and promote good government. The Business Plan was updated to reflect current market realities. Its facilities plan is undergoing a major upgrade as is the multi-agency Integrated Regional Water Management Plan. Profound improvements were made to the Asset Management Program so it provides detailed risk data in a visual format for better decision-making. An Online Water Ordering System was adopted and a high-low rate forecasting tool was developed to improve customer service. Outreach to stakeholders was greatly expanded through enhanced online offerings, community forums and other tools.

The Western Virginia Water Authority uses technology and innovative water management practices to enhance the quality of life for its regional community. In 2011, the Authority entered into a guaranteed energy performance-based contract with upgrades that will help the Authority save more than $1 million in annual electrical and operational costs and add approximately $1.5 million in revenue through increased water meter accuracy. The Authority’s rate methodology of setting competitive and sustainable rates supports infrastructure maintenance and improvements, operational expenses and creation of reserve funds while placing the Authority in a better position to provide citizens with reliable long-term and reasonably priced water service.