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The Water Research Foundation has just published a report by the Environmental Finance Center at UNC Chapel Hill and Raftelis Financial Consultants – Defining a Resilient Business Model for Water Utilities.
The report is the culmination of a multi-year project examining the ability of water utilities to thrive in the presence of fiscal stresses. This project was made possible by the participation of utility partners from across the continent representing a wide range of sizes, governance models, pricing strategies, climates, and demographic trends. Analyses were conducted at the national, regional, utility level using financial and usage data from thousands of utilities and hundreds of thousands of water customers. The comprehensive report provides an assessment of the revenue resilience of the industry’s business model, discusses factors influencing revenue resiliency, and offers strategies and practices for revenue resiliency.
The report is complemented by two tools for water utilities to use in exploring the revenue resiliency of their own business model: the Water Utility Revenue Risk Assessment Tool and the Water Utility Customer Assistance Program Cost Estimator.
The team at the Environmental Finance Center at UNC Chapel Hill hope you will find the report and its recommendations valuable and encourage you to share it with your colleagues.
For more information please contact Lexi Kay at the Environmental Finance Center at UNC Chapel Hill by emailing email@example.com.
Last month I attended a roundtable discussion on public-private partnerships (PPPs) hosted by the Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure (AIAI). Attendees were leaders from both the public and private sectors convening to discuss the future of PPPs in the United States including challenges to the adoption of PPPs and how to raise awareness of the many benefits these partnerships offer.
AIAI was formed to help shape the direction of the national PPP marketplace. The extensive experience and industry knowledge they have allows them to effectively serve as a national proponent to facilitate awareness of PPPs as a solution and to develop and advocate policy and legislative measures to remove barriers to the adoption of public-private partnerships.
NAWC is proud to be an AIAI member and I recently accepted an appointment to serve as chair of the organization’s water subcommittee. Every day across the country, communities struggle with problems caused by aging and failing drinking and wastewater systems. The U.S. water infrastructure system is 30 times the length of the National Highway System but investment hasn’t kept pace with maintenance and replacement needs. It’s time to change the “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” attitude toward water and I look forward to representing such a critical component of America’s infrastructure.
Learn more about the Association for the Improvement of American Infrastructure online.
When CH2M HILL employee Mike Beck announced his retirement after 41 years of industry service, imagine his surprise to learn that Mayor Daniel Guerrero had proclaimed December 17 as “Mike Beck Day” in the Texas city of 42,000 people.
The proclamation recognized Beck’s service managing, operating and maintaining water and wastewater facilities in Indiana, Colorado, Wisconsin, California and Texas and “more than four decades of … assuring the protection of our environmental resources and providing our citizens with essential, life-sustaining services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
The proclamation also stated “the City of San Marcos wishes to express our admiration and gratitude to Mike Beck for the exemplary service he has provided to the people of San Marcos.”
NAWC is always thrilled to see the contributions of the dedicated prosessionals from the water industry recognized and we offer our heartfelt congratulations to Mike on this honor!
Read more on the CH2M HILL website.
Aqua America has announced the launch of WaterSmart, a tool to help consumers conserve water and learn about the water treatment process. The interactive program displays an illustration of a home, with clickable elements in each room. When you click, the visitor is provided with tips for water conservation that they can incorporate into their everyday activities, such as cleaning, gardening and personal care. The program is available as a mobile Web app on tablets and smartphones and is accessible on modern Web browsers on desktop and laptop computers.
“By working together to save water in small ways throughout our home and daily routines, we can make a big impact and help save water,” said Aqua Chairman and CEO Nicholas DeBenedictis.
To learn more, visit http://aquawatersmart.com/ .
Today the Water Environment Federation (WEF) formally announced that Dr. Eileen O’Neill has been named Executive Director.
Dr. O’Neill had been serving WEF as the Interim Executive Director and prior to that served as Deputy Executive Director. NAWC offers heartfelt congratulations to Eileen and we look forward to continuing to work closely with her and the WEF team.
From the news release:
“Dr. O’Neill is an experienced association executive with strong water sector knowledge based on diverse domestic and international experience”, said WEF President Sandra Ralston. ”She has a proven track record during her 20-plus years with WEF delivering highly successful technical programming, increasing revenues and building partnerships.”
The full release can be viewed online.
American Water has posted a new white paper, titled “Creating Operational Efficiencies in the Water Industry.” Click here to access the whitepaper.
American Water, announced it was selected to receive a 2014 U.S. Water Prize by the U.S. Water Alliance. The award ceremony will take place on April 7 in Washington, D.C.
American Water was recognized for being a leader in water research and advancing the science of water for more than 30 years. American Water has dedicated itself to promoting the value and wise use of water in developing a leading water-related research program to achieve significant advancements in the science of drinking water and wastewater.
Today, the company’s Innovation & Environmental Stewardship team consists of more than 20 scientists, fully dedicated to environmental protection and research in the fields of engineering, chemistry, microbiology, public health, and environmental science. American Water’s research team has been awarded 79 competitive research grants totaling over $32 million. Just in 2013, six research grants were awarded for a total of nearly $2 million.
American Water’s Innovation & Environmental Stewardship team has leveraged its expertise to validate innovations using the company’s large and geographically diverse footprint, ultimately becoming an early-adopter of new technologies for industry use. This unique program, called the Innovation Development Process (IDP) tests new ideas, both from within the company and from business partners, to create greater efficiencies in strategic areas such as water reuse, desalination, wastewater operations and bio-energy. Through the IDP, American Water is bringing new solutions and technologies to the marketplace. Since the program’s inception in 2009, approximately 400 ideas were reviewed and several have proceeded to pilot testing and the preparation of a business case.
“American Water is honored to be recognized as a leader in promoting and advancing water sustainability,” said Jeff Sterba, president and CEO of American Water. “American Water has spent more than 125 years learning and growing in the water and wastewater industry. At a time when many utilities have feared doing research, American Water has been an example that an investment in research is a commitment to sound utility management and increased sustainability for current and future generations.”
Created, sponsored and administered by the U.S. Water Alliance, the United States Water Prize is the first of its kind to recognize successful efforts in protecting and improving the health of watersheds in this country.
P3s are widely being discussed by policymakers as a new way to manage infrastructural investment and as a bold strategic approach to solve our looming and economically dooming deteriorating public infrastructure problem in the U.S. And why not? Municipalities engage in P3s to save money. Throughout Europe, Canada and within the U.S., P3s have produced high-performing infrastructure solutions that create value for the citizens and the investors.
What is it exactly? P3s align municipal needs with private sector capabilities, and they come in many forms. Simply put, a P3 is a mix of public and private investment and ownership in the same asset. Economic pressures and limited resource factors have prompted an uptick in U.S. cities investigating the idea of P3s.
Infrastructure in priority areas, like water services and highways, is the umbilical cord to the economic strength and social structure of any nation, which makes investment in modernizing public infrastructure a precondition to long-term economic growth and a clean environment. Any region that wants to be competitive and efficient must think and act strategically about infrastructure.
Toronto, Canada is a recent example of how a P3 approach has been implemented to solve its $100 billion backlog of infrastructure repairs in priority areas. Their experience with P3s demonstrates a strong potential to improve the outcomes of public investment in lifeline infrastructure, and can inform U.S. municipalities.
With regard to water delivery in the U.S., there are over 170,000 drinking water systems, many of which are old and deteriorating. Cities (large and small) are constrained from making the vast capital investment needed to restore and update water mains and pipes, some which are over 100 years old.
A P3 brings together municipalities and other public sector entities with the private sector to finance and manage public infrastructure systems. A wide array of P3 contract options exist. They may enter into a performance based contract arrangement where certain operational capabilities or skill set is augmented by a private firm, or a management contract where a private company manages the municipal facility, or a lease arrangement where a private firm contracts with the city to lease and operate the city’s water and/or wastewater system for a period of time. This list is not exhaustive of various P3 amalgamations. Though, the calculation that leads to a P3 is always grounded in one reason: it saves public money.
P3’s are about performance: meeting the public requirements and achieving the desired outcomes that provide more efficient infrastructure for municipalities and their citizens. The logic of specifying performance makes for a better business case. P3s done right is about public and private collaboration, allowing the municipalities and their partners to develop high-performing infrastructure solutions that create value for the citizens and the investors.
American Water Works Company Inc. has announced that Jeff Sterba will retire from his role as president and chief executive officer of American Water at the Company’s annual meeting, scheduled for May 9, 2014. At that time, American Water’s current senior vice president and chief financial officer Susan N. Story will succeed Sterba as president and CEO. Sterba will stay on as an advisor to Story to ensure a smooth transition until January 1, 2015.
“I am so proud of what the American Water employees have achieved in the past few years,” said Jeff Sterba, president and CEO of American Water. “With a clear and well established vision, we have and will continue to execute our strategy. The leadership team at American Water has created a company where continuous improvement is fully ingrained into our culture, customers are at the center of our actions and increasing shareholder value has and will be the result. While I will miss the committed and dedicated people of American Water, I know I will leave the company in incredibly capable hands, ensuring a pathway for sustainable and profitable growth.”
Sterba joined American Water as CEO in 2010. Under his leadership, the company delivered solid earnings per share growth more than doubling its equity share price and market capitalization, while strengthening its balance sheet with increases in revenues, net margin, and cash flow. At the same time, the company achieved its O&M efficiency rate goal through effective cost management and increased efficiencies. American Water also established its portfolio optimization strategy and grew both its regulated and market-based businesses. During Sterba’s tenure, American Water became the first U.S. water utility named to the Dow Jones Sustainability North America Index.
Beyond his achievements at American Water, Sterba also became a thought leader in the water industry, testifying before Congress numerous times as well as helping to launch the Value of Water Coalition, a coalition made up of both public and private members of the water industry working to educate the public on the importance of clean, safe, and reliable water.
“Jeff has been a consummate leader since taking over the helm at American Water in 2010,” said George MacKenzie, Chairman of American Water’s Board of Directors. “Under his direction, the company has achieved year-over-year growth, expanded its services and territories, become more efficient and effective, and, most importantly, delivered excellent service to customers. The entire board thanks him for positioning American Water for long-term success.”
“The Board is also very pleased that Susan Story will become American Water’s next leader,” MacKenzie continued. “Susan has more than 30 years of utility experience and knowledge and we are confident that under her direction, American Water will continue to deliver the solid performance its customers, employees and shareholders have come to expect.”
Story is currently American Water’s senior vice president and chief financial officer. American Water expects to name Story’s CFO successor prior to May 2014.
“American Water is a remarkable company. Our employees are dedicated to providing clean, safe, reliable and affordable water; to the highest levels of customer service; and to the effective stewardship of our environment. Our company is built on integrity and committed to financial fundamentals that serve the best interest of our customers, employees, shareholders and communities,” said Story. “It is an honor and a privilege to be part of this top-notch leadership team and these highly committed employees. We look forward to carrying on the tradition of excellence and outstanding performance that Jeff Sterba established during his time leading this great company.”
Before joining American Water, Story served as executive vice president of Southern Company, one of America’s largest generators of electricity serving both regulated and competitive markets across the southeastern United States. In that role she was also president and CEO of Southern Company Services, providing a wide array of shared services across the company’s geographic footprint.
A seasoned utility executive, Story also served as president and CEO of Gulf Power Company, a Florida subsidiary of Southern Company, and as Southern Company’s executive vice president of Engineering and Construction Services. Story began her career at Southern Company as a nuclear power plant engineer and had increasing executive and leadership responsibilities in both power plant and T&D operations, marketing, customer service, human resources, corporate real estate and supply chain management.
Story has a history of active involvement in community, industry, education and economic development efforts. She currently serves on the Bipartisan Policy Center Board of Directors in Washington, D.C. and as a member of the Moffitt Cancer Center Board of Advisors in Tampa, Fla. She was recently the national chairman for the Center for Energy Workforce Development (CEWD) and served on the boards of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE). In her time in Florida, she was a member of the Florida Board of Education, appointed to the Federal Judicial Nominating Commission, appointed chair of the state’s economic development public-private partnership, and was an appointee to the Tax and Budget Reform Commission, required every 20 years by the Florida Constitution.
Story is an independent director of Raymond James Financial (RJF), having served on the board since 2008.
She attended executive education programs at Duke University and Oxford University, and completed international business studies at Cambridge University and leadership studies at Harvard. She earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Auburn University and an MBA from the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She completed additional post-graduate coursework in the Master of Finance program at the University of Alabama focusing in financial derivatives, and at the Birmingham School of Law focusing on torts and contracts.
On December 11, 2013, Pennsylvania American Water announced the winners of its “Community Investment Challenge,” a contest where voters on the company’s Facebook page determined grant awards to support environmental projects and community improvement programs. In all, 17 organizations from across the commonwealth entered projects in the contest, and Facebook users were able to vote once each day between November 8 and December 8 for their favorite projects.
After a total of 2,689 votes were cast during the month-long contest, the top three winners are:
- First place (737 votes): Downtown Scranton Spring Planter Beautification Project will receive a $1,000 grant for cleaning up debris and planting flowers and bushes throughout the planters in Scranton’s Main Street district. The University of Scranton’s Office of Community Relations and student government is partnering with Scranton Tomorrow and Penn State Master Gardeners in Lackawanna County to extend its annual spring “Street Sweep” neighborhood clean-up event into downtown Scranton.
- Second place (695 votes): Derry Township Environmental Action Committee will receive a $700 grant for its Rain Barrel Workshop, where attendees can purchase high-quality rain barrels at a reduced cost and learn about stormwater runoff and water conservation.
- Third place (247 votes): Mt. Lebanon Environmental Sustainability Board will receive a $300 grant for its Energy Camels Project to reward residents who make documented progress in energy or water conservation. Energy Camels, when placed in residents’ front yards, are designed to engage the community by making behavior change “fun” through education about conservation.
More information is available on their website.
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