OF NEW BEDFORD, MASSACHUSETTS
The City of New Bedford and Aqua Alliance/PSG have been partners in environmental protection since 1990. The partnership enhances the quality of life in the community by protecting New Bedford Harbor and Buzzards Bay, both critical to New Bedford's cultural heritage and economic vitality.
New Bedford Mayor Frederick Kalisz is particularly proud of this partnership because it exemplifies his commitment to bringing business and government together to achieve important environmental and public policy goals. Previously, the Mayor had used this approach to protect the regional coastal communities by coordinating the Buzzards Bay Project Toxics Use Reduction Program.
Aqua Alliance's subsidiary, Professional Services Group, operates the City's new secondary treatment water pollution control facility; the City operates the collection system. With the significant effect of rain events on the combined sewer system, coordination between PSG and City staff is crucial. This system serves 110,000 people and collects and treats 30 million gallons per day, with a peak of 75 million gallons per day.
Over the years, the relationship between New Bedford and PSG has grown into a true partnership . and a successful one. In 1990, the City hired PSG to operate its primary treatment plant and to start up a secondary treatment facility that was under construction at that time. Company employees provided suggestions and helped review progress during the construction, and it is clear that this cooperation produced efficiencies in construction and operability of the new facility. It is clear, as well, that it led to mutual trust and respect among City and PSG staff.
In 1998, after working with the City to make the environmentally significant transition from the old primary treatment plant to the new secondary treatment plant, PSG was awarded a 10-year operating contract.
An important goal of the New Bedford/PSG partnership is preservation of precious environmental resources, and the City is on the leading edge of the nation's emphasis on community-based environmental protection. Key objectives of Vice President Gore's Clean Water Action Plan include reducing shellfish bed and beach closures, and the partnership makes great strides . strides which are dramatic and measurable . toward these critical objectives. Since the new treatment plant began operation in mid-1996, pollutant loadings into Buzzards Bay have been reduced by more than 10 million pounds annually. In addition, innovative technology PSG is introducing will cut sludge production 1,100 tons, or 25 percent, thereby reducing landfilling and incineration impacts and costs.
Because another important goal of the partnership is to contribute to a sustainable community, the partnership is much more than a business that simply operates a municipal environmental facility. It involves and benefits the broader community. An innovative citizens' committee ensures that PSG and the facility effectively meet treatment needs without adversely affecting the neighborhood. When school and community groups visit the plant, PSG staff members demonstrate its role in protecting the Bay and discuss career opportunities in science and environmental protection.
The innovation and efficiency of the partnership has saved $16 million in operating costs, allowing the City to avoid a planned rate increase for 1998, to stabilize user charges over the term of the partnership, and to direct resources to other vital community needs.
In a short period of time, the City's economy and its business community have realized substantial measurable benefits from the protection of the Bay. Sustainable use of its coastal resources has long contributed to New Bedford's prosperity, and a mainstay industry, shellfishing, has recently thrived: The economic value of the City's shellfish harvest increased 2,200% from 1992 to 1996, to over $2 million. As important, the clean-up has revived a traditional way of life: family shellfishing permits have jumped from zero in 1991 to 127 in 1996, and the number of commercial licenses grows steadily.
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.