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Sugar Land (TX) Hosts Urban Water Council's Municipal Seminar on Water Partnerships

By Rich Anderson
April 12, 2004


Sugar Land (TX) Mayor David G. Wallace welcomed participants to the Municipal Water Partnership Seminar sponsored by the Urban Water Council (UWC), March 25-26. The purpose of the Seminar is to share information on Best Practices in water infrastructure where partnerships between public and private parties satisfy local water needs and achieve additional public benefits. The Seminar featured presentations of interest to the Urban Water Council: drinking water partnerships; water conservation partnerships and watershed management partnerships. These partnerships are briefly summarized here.

Drinking Water Partnerships

Houston Southeast Water Purification Plant

Kent Turner of American Water presented information on the Houston Southeastern treatment plant partnership. The plant, capacity of 126 million gpd, uses conventional treatment processes. American Water Services (AWS) provides turn-key operation, maintenance, residuals handling, and engineering services. Houston is the managing partner for 10 participating communities.

A result of the partnership in this case is the installation of a system upgrade, the computerized Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition system (SCADA). The SCADA system will enhance both operations as well as maintenance of the plant.

Another feature of this partnership is how a financial incentive was embedded in the service contract to reward the private operator for achieving emission levels superior to legal limits. Contractual standards are determined for certain water quality parameters, and each is set below regulatory limits. Violation of standards is subject to withholding a portion of the monthly service fee.

Houston Northeast Water Purification Plant DBO

Jeff Taylor, city of Houston and Eric Rothstein of CH2M HILL discussed the Northeast water plant DBO. A driving force behind this action was a Court decision to reduce reliance on groundwater by 80 percent in 2030.

This project suggests the following benefits are derived from this DBO. The project will save 20-40 percent over a traditional design-bid-build model. Scheduling is advantageous to both partners because there are financial penalties for missing deadlines in procurement and construction. A substantial transfer of risk for performance in terms of quantity and quality of water is shifted to the private partner.

Bexar Metropolitan Development Corporation, San Antonio (TX)

The Corporation, an entity of the Bexar Metropolitan Water District whose purpose it is to provide water to over 250,000 people in the San Antonio metropolitan area, entered into a Design, Build, Operate (DBO) partnership with United Water and Montgomery Watson for an ultrafiltration water treatment plant to reduce reliance on the Edwards Aquifer.

Bexar Metropolitan owns all the improvements, and is responsible for arranging financing and constructing 6 miles of new pipe. United Water Services is responsible for managing and operating new surface water structures; managing the ultrafiltration water treatment facility, raw water intake, raw water pipeline and pumping station.

According to Elaine Chaney of United Water, the ultrafiltration plant supplies 9 million gallons per day (gpd). The plant was budgeted at $30 million, but was completed at $27 million. The total cost per 1,000 gallons is 65 cents for debt service, plus 20 cents for capital replacement costs, plus 40 cents for operating costs for a total of $1.25.

The public benefits from this partnership include an overall reduction and stabilization of rates, and San Antonio has a dependable supply of water of high quality. The new ultrafiltration plant has reduced reliance on the Edwards Aquifer.

Water Conservation Partnerships

California Rinse and Save Conserves 325,851 Gallons Per Restaurant

Paul Notti of Honeywell presented information on a partnership effort undertaken in California to convert restaurants to "pre-rinse spray valves" that use less energy and water. The California Urban Water Conservation Council teamed up with the California Public Utilities Commission to help modernize the restaurant industry's water and energy conservation. Honeywell was selected as the private party to seek out restaurant owners, convince them to invest $75 for the pre-rinse spray valve (1.6 gallons per minute of hot water) to replace the old valves (2.5 — 4.0 gallons per minute of hot water), and save almost $1,000 per year on combined water and energy savings. More than 16,000 valves have been installed at this time. Approximately 6 billion gallons of water will be saved by doing this.

Asset Management in Atlanta (GA)

Valentino Bates, President of Khafra Engineering and Keith Toomer, City of Atlanta, prepared information on using GIS and internet mapping techniques to manage Atlanta's sewer and water assets. Atlanta plans to reduce sewer overflows, and will inspect all sewers by 2007 and complete rehabilitation of them by 2014.

Khafra developed a geo-database that can be used over the internet. The database identifies all the city sewers, and coordinates them as information services to all water and sewer programs. The database can be evaluated to model sewer overflows, and then identify where repair or replacement of sewers is warranted. This is a time saving and cost'saving practice that can help protect water quality.

Watershed Management Partnerships

Wallace presented information on a local partnership between NALCO, a local chemical manufacturer and Sugar Land on local emergency response. The mayor pointed out that all water resources in a watershed (ground and surface water) must be protected from chemical contamination. He stated that working with companies like NALCO in Sugar Land provides further assurance that water resources will be protected.

NALCO representatives Charles Goebel and Christine Staples stated that NALCO has been sought out by the local fire department for technical assistance when responding to a chemical warehouse fire, and engages in mutual aid with Fire Department in training and fire suppressing foam inventories.

NALCO has received national and state awards for operating facilities that are clean and safe for workers. NALCO also implements the seven codes of management practices established by the American Chemistry Council (ACC). The "Security" code is important because it spells out measures to prevent terrorist attacks from using chemicals in a plant to contaminate the soil, air or water. The Security code contains thirteen management practices.