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May 19, 2009
     
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Member News


Peter Cook

Michael Deane,
Deputy Executive Director and Director of Strategic Development

NAWC Names Michael Deane Deputy Executive Director and Director of Strategic Development

The National Association of Water Companies (NAWC) has announced that Michael Deane has been named deputy executive director and director of strategic development. Deane will be the senior executive at NAWC responsible for creating and pursuing strategies at the national, state and regional levels that will continue to raise the profile of the array of solutions to address the challenges facing our nation's water and wastewater systems. In this position, Deane will coordinate closely with NAWC members while continuing the Association’s important work of developing and maintaining relationships with leading water industry organizations and government bodies.

“We are delighted that Michael is joining NAWC. His expertise in a broad range of water issues — and sustainable infrastructure financing, in particular — from both the federal government and the private sector perspectives will prove to be indispensable to the association and its member companies,” remarked Donald L. Correll, president and chief executive officer of American Water and president of the NAWC board of directors. “I have the utmost respect for Michael and believe that his experience in shaping a common vision and forging positive relationships among advocates of diverse interests will serve our industry very well.”

Deane brings decades of water-related experience garnered from positions of leadership in the federal government and private industry. He comes to NAWC from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), most recently serving as associate assistant administrator for water. In this position, Deane was a principal advisor to the EPA administrator and the assistant administrator for water on infrastructure financing matters and led the EPA’s effort to implement sustainable water management solutions, including water efficiency and green infrastructure initiatives. Deane was also responsible for communicating EPA policies and positions to Congress, government agencies, trade and professional associations, private industry, and various international organizations. Previously, Deane guided the EPA’s development of sustainable water infrastructure financing and management solutions as senior policy advisor for infrastructure finance. In addition to his previous two posts, Deane held positions in the EPA Office of Wastewater Management from 1988 to 1995.

Furthermore, Deane has held senior-level positions at leading water industry and engineering companies, serving in government affairs and senior management roles. As director of government affairs for Monteco Corporation, Deane developed and led a full-scale program targeted at all levels of government to educate and inform leaders about the company’s sustainable water quality and energy solutions available to the environmental and industrial sectors. He also spent four years as vice president of strategic development at United Water while also performing the role of vice president of U.S. public affairs strategy at United Water’s parent company, SUEZ.

 

Lisa Sparrow, COO of Utilities, Inc. named to NDWAC

Peter Cook

Lisa Sparrow

Lisa Sparrow has been selected for a seat on the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC).

The Council, comprising of approximately 15 members of the general public, state and local agencies, and private groups concerned with safe drinking water, advises the EPA Administrator on everything that the agency does relating to drinking water.

Lisa Sparrow joined Utilities, Inc. in April 2002 as director of operations. She subsequently advanced to vice president of operations and was later appointed to the position of chief operating officer in 2006.

Prior to joining Utilities, Inc., Sparrow held numerous management positions in her 16 years with BP, a global energy company, and General Motors, a global automotive company. She has a Bachelor of Science in mechanical engineering from Michigan State University and a Master’s in management from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. She is active in a wide variety of community activities and has held a variety of non-profit executive board positions.

 

Artesian Water Wins National Innovation Award for Customer Service Program

Artesian Water announced it has been selected as the winner of the 2009 Expanding Excellence Award by CS Week and Electric Light & Power. The award program is designed to recognize and salute excellence in customer service at the nation’s utility companies.

“For more than 100 years, we have been dedicated to providing our customers the very best service possible and we are proud that our efforts are receiving national recognition,” said Dian C. Taylor, chair, president and CEO of Artesian Resources. “We are particularly pleased because this award recognizes the innovation of our employees who work hard each day to improve our service and efficiency.”

Artesian Water was cited for developing a new dispatch system that speeds response to customer calls for water meter installations and repairs and increases the productivity of water meter technicians by 50 percent. Using only internal resources, Artesian employees linked the company’s customer service system with an existing geographical information system (GIS) to improve scheduling and work routing.

Artesian was one of only two utilities in the nation to be selected for the award, which recognizes utilities that introduce new techniques or technologies to extend the life and value of legacy systems that support customer service. All North American utility companies, including gas, electric, water, wastewater, sanitation and retail electric/gas companies were eligible to participate in the program.

 

Water For People Selects CEO

Water For People, a nonprofit international development organization based in Denver, has named Ned Breslin its chief executive officer, effective immediately. Founded in 1991, the organization supports safe drinking water and sanitation projects in developing countries in response to the 884 million people worldwide who lack access to safe drinking water and the 2.5 billion who lack adequate sanitation.

Breslin has been serving in the role of acting CEO for the past eight months. He joined Water For People in January 2006 as the director of international programs, where he proved to have a unique ability to blend programmatic, mission, financial, fundraising and executive experience into high quality outcomes.

“It is with great honor that I accept the position of CEO, and I look forward to carrying out the current strategic plan that will guide us to the end of 2011,” Breslin stated. “Water For People has a striking mission and vision rooted in innovation and partnership which will help lead the way for the water and sanitation sector to create sustainable change in developing countries.”

As director of international programs, Breslin oversaw the organization’s expansion into the Dominican Republic, Peru, Rwanda and Uganda as well as led the existing programs in Bolivia, Guatemala, Honduras, India and Malawi. During his tenure, international programs grew from a $3.3 million budget to a $6.5 million budget, supporting the provision of safe and sustainable drinking water resources to 91,722 people and sanitation facilities to 92,983 people in 2008.

“Ned has proven himself to be a motivational and charismatic leader over the past months,” said Fred Elwell, president of the Water For People board of directors. “We are proud of the fact that he comes from the staff within the organization and proves out both the high quality of our staff and the commitment to run our organization with the mission and beneficiaries at the forefront of our efforts.”

Breslin was first introduced to water and sanitation development as part of a Lutheran World Relief initiative in northern Kenya in the 1980s, and subsequently worked in the water supply, sanitation and hygiene sector in southern Africa for 16 years for a range of local and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), including the Mvula Trust in South Africa and WaterAid in Mozambique. He has a Masters of Arts from the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Studies from St. Lawrence University in Canton, N.Y.

 

SouthWest Water Company Receives $60 Million in Settlement of New Mexico Eminent Domain Proceedings

SouthWest Water Company announced that it received $60 million from the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority in settlement of eminent domain proceedings involving the company’s subsidiary, New Mexico Utilities, Inc.

The settlement resolves all legal issues between the two parties, including the dispute over the sewer fee charged to New Mexico Utilities for the treatment of wastewater. As part of the settlement, $7 million was paid to the Water Utility Authority at the time of closing to resolve the sewer fee issue, for which SouthWest Water had established a reserve. SouthWest Water used the remaining proceeds to retire debt of approximately $12 million and to pay down its credit facility.

 

Connecticut Water Company Asks to Lower Customer Bills

The Connecticut Water Company has filed an application with Connecticut’s Department of Public Utility Control for permission to reduce customers’ water bills for the last six months of 2009. The company is proposing to place a temporary credit on customer bills from July 1-Dec. 31, 2009, and delay its next rate case filing.

According to Connecticut Water’s president and CEO, Eric W. Thornburg, the company is sensitive to the challenges facing its customers and lowering customer bills is the right thing to do. Thornburg states, “The current economy is widely accepted as the most challenging in recent times and Connecticut Water recognized the need to take unprecedented action: voluntarily proposing to reduce customer bills for six months and delaying the company’s next rate filing until January 2010. It typically takes about six months for a rate proceeding so it is unlikely that new rates would go into effect until the second half of 2010. Our goal is to help our customers without affecting service quality and sustainability.” The proposed credit on bills would equal 1.8 percent of a customer's bill for water usage and all residential, commercial, industrial and municipal customers would benefit from the credit.

The Connecticut Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC), which is a party to the settlement of the company’s 2006 rate case, supports the company’s proposal in testimony provided to the DPUC. The OCC’s testimony states, “The OCC was approached by CWC with a unique and favorable ratemaking approach that could provide ratepayers with a favorable financial outcome during these extremely difficult economic times that are facing many Connecticut households.”

The proposal to temporarily credit bills and delay the next rate case filing is based on adjusting certain depreciation rates and passing along the expense reduction to customers and requires DPUC approval. Depreciation allows the company to recover the original cost of infrastructure over its useful life, and by extending the assumed useful life of infrastructure, depreciation costs can be spread over more years thereby reducing the annual expense. The proposed credit will not have an impact on the company’s earnings in 2009 because the temporary credit is being offset by a reduced expense.

After the temporary credit is eliminated on Dec. 31, 2009, the Connecticut Water Company will use the reduced depreciation expense to delay its next rate case filing. Under the terms of the settlement agreement in the company’s last rate case, CWC cannot seek implementation of higher customer rates prior to Jan. 1, 2010. The Connecticut Water Company is now proposing to extend the stay-out period for six additional months to July 1, 2010. The company plans to file its next rate case early in 2010 with new rates going into effect after July 1, 2010. This would delay the general rate increase until the following fiscal year for municipalities.

The timing of a temporary credit on customers’ bills would coincide with the addition of a Water Infrastructure Conservation Adjustment (WICA) surcharge on the bills. The proposed credit, however, would more than fully offset the amount of the infrastructure surcharge in 2009. According to Thornburg, “We maintain our commitment to replace aging infrastructure to ensure reliable service, high quality water, and preserve natural resources through replacement of aging pipe.”

Thornburg notes that spending on infrastructure will also create jobs in this troubled economy. He cited information provided by Dr. Stan McMillen, managing economist at Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development, that CWC’s infrastructure spending in 2009 will create an estimated 157 new construction and support jobs.

 

NAWC Announces Management 2009 Innovation Award Competition

NAWC announces its annual Management Innovation Awards Competition. This competition recognizes innovative programs that promote better water service, wider recognition of the industry and improved utility management. Deadline for entries is Aug. 21, 2009; winners will be recognized at the National Drinking Water Symposium. Download the brochure; contact mike@nawc with any questions.

 

Aqua America PA Subsidiary Acquires Clarendon Water System

Aqua America, Inc. announced that its Pennsylvania subsidiary, Aqua Pennsylvania, Inc., has completed the acquisition of the Clarendon Water Company (Clarendon), which serves approximately 1,200 residents in Clarendon Borough and Meade Township in Warren County, Pennsylvania for $400,000.

Clarendon will be Aqua's first operation in Warren County, although it is just 20 miles north of Aqua's Marienville operation in adjacent Forest County. Like Marienville, it will be operated out of Aqua's Shenango Division also in western Pennsylvania.

"The Clarendon Water Company is a great addition to our Shenango operations,” said Aqua America Chairman and CEO Nicholas DeBenedictis. "In addition to providing a base for potential expansion in another county, its proximity to our existing operations affords us economies of scale to ensure continued operating efficiency."

DeBenedictis added that the company has plans to invest approximately $380,000 over the next five years to make improvements to the source of supply and the distribution system, and to replace meters.

 

Utilities, Inc. Completes Elevated Tank Project in the Greenbrier Water System

Utilities, Inc. and its subsidiary, Utilities, Inc. of Louisiana, are pleased to announce the completion of a major water system improvement project at its Greenbrier water system, located in St. Tammany Parish, near Covington, La. This $1.3 million improvement project was placed into service on April 29, 2009. The new 300,000 gallon elevated tank will increase the water system’s storage capacity to 500,000 gallons. This added capacity is needed to provide adequate water services to the existing and future customers located within the Greenbrier service area.

“We are working very closely with local developers to insure adequate water and wastewater services will be available when our economy turns around. This new tank more than doubles our available water storage capacity. The Covington area economy remains relatively strong to other areas and seems to be surviving the downturn well,” said Lisa Sparrow, chief operating officer. “With the completion of this tank our existing customers will see improved and stable system pressures, which are necessary to provide continued reliable service.”

 

American Water Awarded Contract for Desalination Pilot Plant in Laredo, Texas

American Water announced that its subsidiary, Applied Water Management, has been awarded a contract from Terrabon LLC for engineering services and the operation of a 50,000-gallon-per-day desalination pilot plant in Laredo, Texas. This plant will employ a new desalination technology known as Advanced Vapor Compression (AdVETM), which is expected to reduce the capital and operating costs of treating water with concentrations of dissolved solids above levels acceptable for drinking water. Engineering work is expected to begin this month, and Applied Water Management is expected to begin operating the facility by the end of 2009.

The project is designed to provide additional fresh water for residents of Laredo, which has an estimated population of 215,000 and is located in the semi-arid area on the Texas-Mexico border. Laredo is near the limit for water that can be drawn from the Rio Grande River and ground water has been impacted by salt intrusion.

In addition to reviewing the operability of Terrabon's equipment design and preparing site designs, once constructed, Applied Water Management will operate the facility as a subcontractor to Terrabon on behalf of the City of Laredo, Texas.

"We are extremely pleased to be awarded this contract and are committed to delivering excellent service that the residents of Laredo can depend upon," said Tim Davies, president of Applied Water Management. "As the operator of the nation's largest seawater desalination plant in Tampa, Florida and the DBO for another pilot plant in Monterey, California, American Water is committed to providing successful solutions to water supply challenges through innovative technologies and environmental stewardship."

"The world's need for safe, clean water is becoming increasingly urgent," said Gary W. Luce, Terrabon CEO. "The development of this (AdVETM) pilot project is an important step in securing and providing clean water for the people of Laredo and ultimately, for people around the globe. We look forward to working with Applied Water Management to implement this cost-effective solution."