The key drivers for municipalities deciding to enter public-private partnerships are cost savings, maximized system efficiencies and regulatory compliance. One other factor that comes into play, despite its lack of publicity, is safety.
Two municipalities were recently lauded for their efforts in terms of safety. Wastewater treatment facilities in Syracuse and LaGrange, Ind., were awarded the Municipal Safety Award by the Indiana Water Environment Association (IWEA.). The awards were given out at the organization’s annual conference in November 2005.
The Syracuse and LaGrange Wastewater Treatment Plants, owned by the towns of Syracuse and LaGrange, respectively, are operated and maintained by private partner Severn Trent Services  . Both earned the rare distinction of achieving perfect scores of 100 in the annual safety assessment conducted by IWEA.
A perfect safety score has only been achieved one other time. The Syracuse WWTP, in partnership with partner Severn Trent Services  , earned the safety distinction in 2004. The IWEA safety program is designed to give recognition to all plants which grade high in merit points and sustain a minimum of lost-time accidents.
In addition to the safety recognition, both facilities received Excellence in Laboratory awards, which recognize outstanding achievements in the implementation of laboratory technique and administration. While both plants are ranked as class II facilities based upon their size, the 1-MGD oxidation ditch treatment WWTP in Syracuse and 1.8-MGD activated sludge WWTP in LaGrange were graded at the more stringent class IV level.
The value of partnerships
According to the Water Partnership Council  , more than 2,800 public-private partnerships exist today in the United States. The Council is a non-profit organization established by the leading providers of operational services for water and wastewater systems in the United States that seeks to promote sustainable water quality.
The Council also reports that municipalities involved in public-private partnerships renew contracts at a rate of 92 percent. An example of this can be seen by the longevity of partnerships formed by the towns of Syracuse and LaGrange. partner Severn Trent Services  has provided contract operations and management for Syracuse since 1989, while LaGrange has contracted with partner Severn Trent  for operations, maintenance and management since 1997.
With municipalities of all sizes actively engaged, the benefits of public-private partnerships cannot be overlooked. The value can be seen in terms of cost savings, maximized efficiencies, regulatory compliance or, in the case of Syracuse and LaGrange, increased safety.