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Utility Executive

Managers and executives at water & wastewater treatment plants, consultants, and others interested in utility management will find this publication indispensable. Utility Executive focuses on such pertinent business issues as public private partnerships, capital financing options, strategic planning methods, public outreach approaches, and staff development.

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Volume 14, Number 6 
November/December 2011  


First the bad news, now the good news

Although debt ceiling negotiations could mean big cuts to the usual federal funding mechanisms for water and wastewater utilities, they also could offer new opportunities

When the dust settled after the prolonged and contentious debate over raising the debt ceiling, the U.S. Congress had agreed to raise the ceiling by $1 trillion this year and another $1 trillion in 2012, reduce discretionary spending by $1 trillion during the next decade, and create a bipartisan “super” committee of congressional members charged with finding another $1.5 trillion in cuts by the end of 2011.


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Many industry sectors that receive some form of federal funding are anticipating deep cuts. The water and wastewater sector is one of them, but many in the industry are urging congressional leaders not to reduce funding.

All hands on deck

New York City agencies mobilize a fast response to restore a wastewater treatment plant and maintain public health

Some emergencies have a widereaching impact, as was the case with a four-alarm fire at the North River Wastewater Treatment Plant in New York City in July. The fire at the 454,000-m3/d (120-mgd) facility resulted in a temporary shutdown of the plant, and untreated wastewater was discharged into the Hudson River, leading to beach pollution advisories and recreational activity restrictions along the Hudson River, New York Harbor, East River, and Harlem River.



Modeling management strategies to optimize expenditure and investment programs

The City of Portland, Ore., takes a unique approach to identifying asset investment needs

Mathew Oakey, David Baranowski, and Teri Liberator

A key challenge faced by utilities in managing their infrastructure is the need to confidently determine future asset investment requirements without getting buried in details or waylaid by the poor quality of data for thousands of individual assets. The Portland (Ore.) Water Bureau set out in 2009 to complete its first attempt at estimating future investment needs through a “bottom-up” approach for its entire asset portfolio. Because the water bureau needed to understand both its short- and long-term investment needs, it used a process involving management strategies for groups of assets. The process enabled the bureau to handle its large number of assets in an acceptable timeframe while adequately setting rehabilitation, replacement, and investment goals for individual assets.

Taking charge

A California WWTP uses an energy management plan to maintain rate stability

Chuck Rogers and Mark D. Watkins

The Hill Canyon Wastewater Treatment Plant in Thousand Oaks, Calif., is seen as a unique community asset by its city council and the residents it serves. The creation of an energy management plan, which included energy conservation, facility optimization, and renewable- energy generation, dramatically improved plant operations while keeping the monthly sewer service charge for a single-family residence stable at $25.45 for the past 6 years and upcoming fiscal years (FYs). This is despite common price pressures, such as system age, topography, varying regulatory requirements, and political priorities. In FYs 2010 and 2011, more than $1 million was returned to the plant’s operational fund. The wastewater fund also has received a coveted AAA-bond rating for its construction debt.

Force mains: The not-to-be-forgotten assets

The Johnson County (Kan.) Wastewater District develops an asset management plan

Bryon Livingston, Alireza Parhami, and Stacy Gallick

During the development of the Johnson County (Kan.) Wastewater District’s asset management plan in 2008, it became apparent that the data in the existing system did not include sufficient information on the district’s force mains. To evaluate the condition of the force mains and provide missing information, the district embarked on a comprehensive and proactive approach to the prioritization and inspection of these assets.

©2011 Water Environment Federation. All rights reserved.