NYC Department of Environmental Protection Launches Program to Improve Services, Lower Costs

DEP partners with Veolia Water to streamline work flows, boost productivity, identify efficiencies and reach strategic goals

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has launched a new program, Operational Excellence, or OpX, to help make DEP the safest, most effective, cost-efficient and transparent water utility in the nation.

The program will enhance services, result in environmental benefits and reduce costs for the 9 million New Yorkers who rely on DEP for water and wastewater services. Veolia Water has been hired as a consultant to develop recommendations to streamline workflows, boost productivity, identify opportunities for efficiency gains and keep future water rate increases as low as possible.

As the nation’s largest municipal water and wastewater utility, DEP currently spends roughly $1.2 billion annually on operations and maintenance and aims to achieve $100 to $200 million in annual savings through the program. The innovative incentive-based agreement with Veolia Water delivers access to a worldwide network of water and wastewater services and technologies while ensuring continued government control, decision-making authority and ownership, as well as public-employee status for DEP employees.

“DEP and its predecessor agencies share a proud legacy of innovation from some of the country's first wastewater treatment plants to the greatest water supply network in the world,” DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland said. “Faced with unfunded mandates that have driven up costs, as well as the need for reinvesting in our basic infrastructure to ensure reliability for the next generation, and our desire to keep water rates in check as much as possible, now it is our turn to take our agency to the next level."

The Operational Excellence program pairs DEP with Veolia to boost productivity while reducing expenses across the globe—all while protecting existing workforces. Through this partnership, DEP employees will work with Veolia to look for efficiencies in operations and maintenance and then implement the best recommendations over the next four years while protecting existing workforces and maintaining service, Strickland added.

The company’s selection followed a request for proposals issued in April by the New York City Water Board and a competitive review process that focused on a contractor’s ability to assess all aspects of agency operations for potential improvements, including labor productivity and processes, inventory management, chemical purchasing and usage, sludge digestion and disposal, and energy efficiency and management. The Veolia team includes McKinsey & Co. and ARCADIS, both serving as subcontractors.

DEP will draw from the Veolia team’s portfolio of best management practices, including implementing systemwide improvements and saving up to 15% of operations and maintenance costs for utilities including Berliner Wasserbetriebe in Berlin and Thames Water in London. Veolia manages more than 5,200 water facilities and 3,200 wastewater facilities around the world.  

Veolia Water

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