The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority (PWSA) board of directors has unanimously extended a partnership with Veolia Water to continue providing interim executive management services through December 2014. The 18-month extension builds on the successes and momentum established during the initial term of the contract and supports the board's goal to become the regionally recognized expert on water quality, utility management and stakeholder responsiveness.
During the partnership's first year, a team of water and wastewater experts from Veolia helped PWSA improve the utility's customer service and performance levels by conducting in-depth diagnostics of current operations, developing specific recommendations for improvement and supporting PWSA employees in implementing initiatives aimed at reaching new performance metrics. The analysis and resulting operational changes helped PWSA reduce its cost of operations and increase the utility's revenue by, among other things, re-securing a large commercial customer. The total impact of these changes is nearly $2.4 million annually. The partnership also reduced customer hold times by 50% and enabled the Authority to approve an annual budget without the need for a water rate increase.
"Over the past year we've made many strides with Veolia," said Dan Deasy, PWSA chairman. "The board challenged Veolia to help the city find new sources of revenue and reduce its costs so that we could pass the 2013 budget with no rate increase, no layoffs and improved customer service. Veolia not only met our challenges, but they greatly exceeded our expectations. Their work directly benefits city employees and ratepayers."
As part of the initial review of utility operations, Veolia Water executive Jim Good led PWSA as interim executive director and will continue to do so, supported by PWSA managers and employees, along with Veolia Water specialists who will share industry best practices and mentor PWSA staff. The Veolia team will continue working collaboratively with PWSA employees and be accountable to the board of directors. A joint steering committee will establish new Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and oversee the implementation of agreed upon initiatives to continue service improvements as well as items that will provide services more efficiently or enhance revenues.
"PWSA, like many municipal water utilities, faces rising operating and capital costs – that makes it harder to grow and provide quality services in a sustainable manner," said Terry Mah, president and CEO of Veolia Environnement North America. "We're pleased to continue to support PWSA's goal to be a recognized regional water expert by sharing Veolia Water's cumulative technical and operational knowledge of 100,000 employees and the water industry's best practices."
The partnership is part of Veolia Water's Peer Performance Solutions model, enabling municipal water utilities to benchmark against other leading utilities while preserving public governance and a public workforce that benefits from specialized private-sector expertise.