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Long-term partnership has benefited the city and residents
American Water has announced that the water and wastewater systems in the city of Elizabeth, N.J., which are operated by American Water, earned the 2012 Outstanding Public/Private Partnership Award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors. This award honors the outstanding achievements made possible through the combined effort of cities and the members of the Mayors Business Council.
In response to upgrading the city’s 100-year-old water infrastructure, and a wastewater system that was nearly 150 years old, the city of Elizabeth entered into two long-term contracts with American Water to maintain and operate the city’s water and wastewater systems. After considering many possible solutions in the realm of public-private partnerships, the city selected a unique 40-year concession contract in 1998 with American Water’s market-based subsidiary to operate and maintain the water system. A few years later, the city entered into a separate 20-year operation and maintenance contract with American Water for the sewer system.
During the course of the partnership, American Water has made more than $4 million in water related infrastructure investments to date, including system-wide meter replacements using automated meter reading touch pad capability.
The company also installed more than 700 new fire hydrants resulting in increased fire protection for the city residents. In addition to the hydrant replacement projects, a sophisticated vandal-proof cap was implemented to prevent water theft and preserve the integrity of the fire protection system. The hydrant upgrades resulted in the city’s fire insurance rating being increased, helping to reduce homeowner insurance costs.
The wastewater system is operated and maintained by E’town Services LLC, a subsidiary of American Water, in conjunction with the Union County Improvement Authority. Under this agreement, E’town Services operates the combined sewer system for a 20-year period and receives a management fee under the terms of the contract.
The project requires the company to invest $3 million to rehabilitate the brick sewer system; to date more than $1.4 million has been spent toward this effort. Additional maintenance requirements of the contract include cleaning all sewer mains, netting facilities and catch basins. Since 2002, E’town Services has responded to more than 400 such collapses.