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Cal Water Utilizes Broad Network of Operations in Response to California Wildfires

Posted on by NAWC Team

Ensuring reliable drinking water service is by no means a simple process, but adding in a disaster like a wildfire makes it downright dangerous and exponentially more difficult. The Mendocino Complex Fire – the largest wildfire in modern California history – began at the end of July and continues to threaten a large part of the state. So far, over 354,000 acres have been impacted. The fire resulted in the mandatory evacuation of California Water Service’s (Cal Water) 1,400 customers in Lucerne.

Cal Water’s vast statewide resources and expertise allowed the company to remotely operate its water system and treatment plant and ensure continuity of operations from an Emergency Operations Center 85 miles away in the Marysville service area. Thanks to pre-positioned backup generators, Cal Water’s facilities continued to run even during power outages.

Since the fire began, the team at Cal Water, including employees from around the state who volunteered to help, has been on the ground to ensure firefighters have sufficient water supplies and pressure to fight the fires. Because wildfires have become an increasing threat in the state, Cal Water has two former fire chiefs on its team who are able to help coordinate response efforts with state and local fire agencies. After the mandatory evacuation was lifted, Cal Water immediately set up two care stations in its Lucerne service area to provide returning residents with food supplies and bottled water.

The threat of natural disasters is something for which every water utility must be prepared. Most regulated water companies, like Cal Water, have operations in multiple communities, so when one system is stressed due to an emergency, resources in other areas can be quickly redirected to provide support.

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Bipartisan Policy Center Report Makes Recommendations on Water Affordability

Posted on by NAWC Team

The enormous need for investment in America’s water infrastructure has resulted in ever-increasing rates for water systems across the board. Between 2012 and 2016, water rates increased nationally by about 7% a year. A recent report from the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) identified several factors that can help address water affordability challenges, including partnerships with the private sector, sound asset management and strategic infrastructure investment. By examining all of these elements independently and how they interconnect, the BPC was able to make several policy recommendations about water affordability.

The BPC acknowledges the significant role the private sector can play in ensuring water affordability and recommends policy changes that promote partnerships and regionalization, noting that these reforms can lower operating costs, improve service, de-politicize rates and provide necessary capital for infrastructure improvements.

“With their economies of scale and service efficiencies, private companies can bring savings in water system O&M costs of 15 percent to 30 percent, according to one estimate.”

The report also emphasizes the importance of utilities developing comprehensive asset management plans and provides further evidence of why low water rates should not be seen as a badge of honor. The report notes that “rates have historically been set too low due to political pressure, concerns over affordability, and limited understanding of all life-cycle O&M costs by utilities.” By adopting asset management plans and strategically investing in water infrastructure, the large rate spikes that put so much pressure on family budgets can be minimized.

Water affordability is a complex challenge and demands innovative and proven solutions, not a one-size-fits-all approach. NAWC members have a strong record of working with municipalities to address the unique water system challenges they face, bringing a high capacity for infrastructure investment, operating expertise and sound asset management to keep water service affordable.

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The Water Industry Comes Together to Talk About Current and Future Challenges

Posted on by NAWC Team

Every year around this time we see a robust conversation around water infrastructure. This May has been no different, starting with the recent Southeast Water Infrastructure Summit at the beginning of the month. This event brought together industry leaders and water experts in New Orleans to discuss the region’s challenges. NAWC member companies, joined by state and federal regulators, reviewed how the private sector is driving innovative approaches that are leading to practical solutions across the area.

In May the industry also celebrated Drinking Water Week, a time to highlight the integral role water plays in our everyday lives. NAWC’s members work 24/7, 365 days a year to ensure that water systems are offering customers and communities safe and abundant water. During this week, NAWC focused on the exceptional record our members have of providing this quality water service.

All of this led up to national Infrastructure Week, which provided an annual reminder of how crucial it is that we invest in our country’s vital infrastructure systems. As is often cited, when the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its Infrastructure Report Card in 2017, it rated drinking water systems a “D,” citing an estimated 240,000 water main breaks per year in the U.S.

We know that our infrastructure is in dire need of investment, and that the U.S. is not moving quickly enough in bringing about the changes needed to ensure safe, consistent access to critical water and wastewater services. But change is happening, and it is being driven by the private sector. The six largest private water companies alone invest a combined nearly $2.7 billion in water infrastructure, with smaller companies contributing even more beyond that.

So while May has been a month during which we have talked a lot about water infrastructure, let us also take a moment to remember that those of us in the private sector are doing more than talking, providing the necessary investment and proper management to ensure 73 million Americans continue to enjoy clean and safe water each and every day.

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NAWC Speaks to Texas Water Challenges

Posted on by NAWC Team

On May 7, the San Antonio Express-News published a commentary by Marybeth Leongini, NAWC Director of Communications, titled “Infrastructure improvement key to water sufficiency.” Leongini addresses the water infrastructure challenges in Texas and how private water companies in the state provide more efficient water resource planning and management, along with expertise and investment.

Read the full piece below:

Water professionals from around the state descended on Texas recently for the largest regional water conference in the country. As Texans well know, parts of the state face severe drought conditions, and the challenges, no doubt, will be exacerbated as Texas’ population is expected to increase 30 percent over the next 20 years. As population increases, so does the demand for water.

All these factors spotlight the importance of more meaningful water resource planning and management, areas in which regulated water utilities are well known for leading the way. Hundreds of thousands of Texans are served by these utilities, which prioritize investment in their water infrastructure to ensure the highest level of efficiency and to better conserve this valuable natural resource.

For example, Aqua Texas Inc., which serves 177,000 people in 53 Texas counties, has spent $220 million over the past 15 years to improve and rebuild pipes, plants, wells and other water infrastructure. Another water utility, Canyon Lake Water Service Co., which serves 42,000 customers between Austin and San Antonio, in 2017 completed a record capital program of investment in its Texas infrastructure totaling more than $140 million. These companies’ commitment to investment helps minimize water loss, and ensures their customers can count on safe and reliable water service.

The reality is that many municipalities struggle to balance competing fiscal priorities. And in the face of a drought, delayed investment can have serious consequences. By harnessing the expertise and investment of the private sector, Texas can improve the state’s water infrastructure and ensure future generations of Texans have the water they need when they need it.

Marybeth Leongini is director of communications for the National Association of Water Companies.

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The National Association of Water Companies Joins Utilities United Against Scams to Highlight Threats of Scammers

Posted on by NAWC Team

The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) joins Utilities United Against  Scams (UUAS) – a consortium of more than 100 electric, water, and natural gas utilities and their respective trade associations – in supporting the second annual Utility Scam Awareness Day to draw attention to the growing issue of utility scams targeting customers.

The effort to educate customers on how to protect themselves from scammers, and to generally raise awareness of the matter are critical components to combat the evolving issue. A recent report published by the Better Business Bureau (BBB) found that people are particularly susceptible to utility scams. Scammers typically contact customers by phone, in-person or the internet posing as a utility employee and exploit the trust customers place in their utilities by using aggressive tactics to extort money. Of the 30 different types of scams tracked and categorized by the BBB, utility scam victims were found to have a median financial loss of $500.

“Water utility customers are particularly susceptible to impostors claiming they need to gain entry to homes to physically check the water meter or pipes located inside the home,” said Joseph Herits, UUAS Vice Chair and Assistant Manager of Customer Service at NAWC-member Middlesex Water Company. “We strongly encourage our customers to act with caution and to ask for a company photo ID before allowing any worker into their home or business. If there is still concern or doubt, customers should call their utilities’ Customer Service Department to verify the activity at their home or business. We value our customers’ safety. The resources available through UUAS will go a long way to helping consumers better protect themselves.”

This week, UUAS released “Consumer’s Guide to Impostor Utility Scams” highlighting the most common types of impostor utility scams, including unsolicited contact via telephone, internet, and in-person visits from an individual claiming to be a utility company representative. In some cases, scammers threaten to disconnect or shut off service immediately unless the customer provides immediate payment.

Customers of private water companies and all utility types who suspect that they have been victims of fraud, or who feel threatened by someone claiming to be a utility employee, should immediately contact local law enforcement authorities. Visit for more information and tips about how customers can protect themselves from scams.

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EPA Launches Response On-The-Go Mobile Application

Posted on by NAWC Team

EPA’s Response On-The-Go Mobile Application provides users with real-time access to valuable tools and response information including location-based hazardous weather updates, interactive maps and charts from the National Weather Service and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and EPA Incident Action Checklists that outline disaster-specific response actions. During hurricanes, tornadoes, power outages and other emergencies, water utility personnel and first line responders must ensure that they are coordinating closely with stakeholders, maintaining awareness of threats to the water system and surrounding community, and documenting response actions. The App can be downloaded for free for use on a variety mobile devices and tablets. For more information, visit


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Executive Director Michael Deane to represent NAWC at One Water Summit 2017

Posted on by NAWC Team

Each year, the U.S. Water Alliance hosts its One Water Summit. From June 27-29, 2017, leaders from across the country will gather in New Orleans for a thought-provoking and action-oriented national summit on what it will take to secure a sustainable water future for all. The summit will feature important solutions-focused conversation about how we value and manage water to foster economic prosperity, community well-being, and environmental sustainability.

This year, NAWC Executive Director Michael Deane will join the One Water Summit as a speaker for its new session format – Strategic Dialogues. These Strategic Dialogues will focus on the partnerships and collaboration needed to drive towards a more integrated and sustainable approach to how we view, value, and manage water.

During this panel, Michael will represent the National Association of Water Companies, speaking to the research, tools, and initiatives private water companies use and develop to help advance the One Water movement. His discussion will highlight the unique roles and perspectives NAWC brings to the One Water movement.

For more information about the One Water Summit or to register to attend, please visit

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Middlesex Water General Counsel Jay L. Kooper Elected Chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association Public Utility Law Section

Posted on by NAWC Team

Middlesex Water Company Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary, Jay L. Kooper, has been elected as Chair of the New Jersey State Bar Association’s Public Utility Law Section for the section’s 2017-2018 programming year. Kooper was appointed Vice President, General Counsel & Secretary of Middlesex Water Company in March 2014, and currently serves as the Secretary of the National Association of Water Companies’ New Jersey Chapter and on multiple committees for the National Association of Water Companies and the New Jersey Utilities Association.

With his election, Mr. Kooper joins a long list of New Jersey’s outstanding public utility law practitioners past and present who have previously served as the Public Utility Law Section Chair, including two with ties to Middlesex Water Company – current Director Walter G. Reinhard and past General Counsel Kenneth J. Quinn. “I am deeply honored and humbled that the membership of the Public Utility Law Section has entrusted me with this great responsibility and I look forward to working with the membership to develop programming for the 2017-2018 year that will be useful and appealing to both the Public Utility Law Section membership and the larger legal community of New Jersey,” said Kooper.

The full press release can be read online.

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EPCOR USA Wins 2017 “Economic Driver” Impact Award

Posted on by NAWC Team

EPCOR USA has received the 2017 Economic Driver, Large Business, IMPACT award from the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce.

“At EPCOR, we believe that by embracing the powerful combination of public service and private enterprise we can improve water infrastructure in communities across Arizona,” said Joe Gysel, President of EPCOR USA. “Water service and water delivery are a critical piece of our state and country’s economy, and we are honored to be recognized by the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce for the commitment, expertise and ingenuity that EPCOR employees bring to Arizona’s water landscape every day.”

“This recognition comes as we celebrate our fifth anniversary in the United States and underscores EPCOR’s deep commitment to quality and excellence, the value of water to our communities and our economy, and the significant and positive impact utilities deliver every day,” Gysel continued.

Since 2012 and including the Greater Phoenix Chamber of Commerce IMPACT Award, EPCOR USA has received 101 awards and recognitions, including 92 safety and operational excellence awards from the AZ Water association, the coveted “Director’s Award of Recognition” from the American Water Works Association and EPA’s Safe Drinking Water Partnership and the National Association of Water Companies’ Living Water Award. The company has been recognized four times by The Phoenix Business Journal with the Best Places to Work designation and was awarded WESTMARC’s “Best of the West” Economic Engine award for its work on the Luke 303 project. Luke 303 has also been recognized with a Build Arizona award from the Arizona Chapter of Associated

The full press release about EPCOR’s recent achievement is available online.

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A #TimetoBuild and a Time to Invest

Posted on by Carlos

As America’s attention is drawn to Infrastructure Week, the National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) is working to highlight water infrastructure. When the nation focuses attention on the broad spectrum of infrastructure, it is important for the water sector to have a seat at the infrastructure table.

Across the country, there are conversations about transportation, roads, bridges, ports and airports. Because they’re above ground, it keeps them top-of-mind for consumers, communities and public officials. While all types of infrastructure are important, I would argue water infrastructure is the most critical because no other forms of infrastructure would exist without it. Water is the element upon which everything else depends, regardless of whether we can see the pipes and water mains delivering this life-giving resource to our communities.

Water is essential to every aspect of our lives, and it stands to reason that the systems delivering water are as valuable as the water itself.

However, it’s no secret that in many parts of the country, water service isn’t as reliable as it should be – predominantly due to aging infrastructure. Much of America’s complex network of water systems have outlived their useful life, and the responsibility has fallen to this generation to restore, repair and expand the water infrastructure.

The costs and complexities related to the nation’s water infrastructure are challenging, but there are many proven approaches and solutions that can be deployed today and over the next decade to address these water challenges. Overcoming these challenges will require unprecedented partnerships between the public and private water sectors using a variety of solutions.

There is an immediate need to embrace the value of collaboration between government-owned water systems and private water companies. Globally speaking, this nation’s water quality is among the highest, but that won’t continue without immediate, sustained investment in water infrastructure.

With respect to water infrastructure, the health and safety of America is at stake, and so is the quality of life for the next generation.

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