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October 26, 2010

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Member News

New NAWC President

NAWC would like to welcome Eric Thornburg, the chairman, president and CEO of Connecticut Water Service, Inc., as the new NAWC president.

Under Thornburg's leadership, Connecticut Water has significantly grown earnings, championed the passage of WICA (DSIC-like) regulation in Connecticut, and acquired over 35 water systems, including the Eastern Operations of Birmingham Utilities, a publicly traded utility company, in a complex three-party transaction. Prior to assuming the leadership post at Connecticut Water on March 1, 2006, Thornburg was the president of Missouri American Water, and has amassed over 28 years of experience in the investor-owned water industry.

Thornburg has a B.A. from Cornell University, and an MBA from Indiana Wesleyan University. He resides in Madison, Conn., with his wife, Melissa, and two children, Wesley and Erica. NAWC looks forward to Thornburg's leadership in the coming year.


American Water Appoints William D. Rogers as Vice President and Treasurer

American Water Works Company, Inc. announced the appointment of William D. Rogers as vice president and treasurer.

In this role, Rogers will lead the company's long-term and short-term financing activities, corporate planning and investment analysis. He will also oversee employee benefit plans and trust-asset investments, as well as lead the enterprise risk-management efforts. As part of his treasurer responsibilities, Rogers will consolidate operating-unit business plans and prepare senior-management and board-level business plan presentations, as well as lead the financial evaluation and analysis of new business opportunities.

Rogers comes to American Water with more than 20 years of financial experience. Most recently, he was the chief financial officer for NV Energy, an investor-owned utility in Las Vegas serving 1.5 million electric and gas customers, and with annual revenues of $3.3 billion. He had previously served as NV Energy's vice president of finance, risk and tax, as well as corporate treasurer. Before joining NV Energy, Rogers was a managing director of capital markets for both Merrill Lynch and JPMorgan Chase in New York.

Rogers holds an MBA in accounting and finance from Duke University. He is also a distinguished graduate of the U.S. Military Academy with a bachelor's degree in engineering and economics. Before beginning his finance career, Rogers served as a captain in the Army Corps of Engineers for five years.


Edwin Piñero Named Chief Sustainability Officer of Veolia Water North America

Edwin Piñero has been named executive vice president and chief sustainability officer of Veolia Water North America. Reporting directly to Laurent Auguste, president and CEO of Veolia Water Americas, Piñero will support the company's sustainability programs while developing and implementing new sustainability solutions for Veolia Water clients.

Piñero brings 30 years of environmental experience in both governmental and private-sector roles. Most recently, Piñero managed sustainable development for Parsons Corporation, where he aided federal clients in finding and developing new opportunities for sustainable improvements.

Piñero's experience includes serving as the Federal Environmental Executive responsible for advancing the U.S. government's environmental stewardship initiatives, building on the programs of prior administrations while creating and implementing new sustainability programs to further "green" the federal government and reduce its overall environmental footprint.

Appointed in 2003 and reporting directly to President George W. Bush until 2008, Piñero helped agencies reduce energy consumption by up to 29.6 percent in one year, increase renewable energy use by more than double program target goals, and reduce greenhouse gases by up to 22 percent in a single year. Under Piñero's leadership, various federal agencies increased recycling activities, meeting EPA's national 35 percent recycling goal, while increasing the use of renewable energy, purchasing enough renewable energy to power more than 280,000 households for a year.

Piñero was also the liaison between all federal agencies and focused in the areas of technology and best practices, environmental management systems (EMS), industrial ecology, sustainability and federal-state cooperation.

"Sustainability is at the heart of what we deliver, whether in the form of water quality improvements, environmental compliance and economic relief for municipal clients, or the provision of resource recovery and value-added environmental compliance and services for industrial clients," said Auguste. "With Edwin's leadership, we will continue to advance the performance of our operations and support our clients while working to ensure sustainable water and environmental resources for society at large."

Piñero's experience also includes serving as the director of the Rochester Institute of Technology's Pollution Prevention Institute. Earlier in his career, Piñero held appointed positions within the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, where he gained his first substantive exposure to water and wastewater issues at the state level. He is expert in a variety of International Organization for Standardization (ISO) processes, and has served as a member or chair of several ISO technical committees. Piñero has also worked as an environmental consultant and environmental specialist in a variety of capacities. He earned a master's degree in Geology from Texas A&M University, and a bachelor's degree in Geology from the State University of New York (SUNY) Brockport.


Connecticut Water Pleased with Open Space Grant Awarded to Town of Plymouth for Purchase of Plymouth Reservoir Property

Connecticut Water announced that it is pleased that the Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has awarded $650,000, through an Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grant, to the Town of Plymouth for the proposed acquisition of the company’s Plymouth Reservoir property.

The 177 Plymouth Reservoir property features a 39-acre reservoir that is no longer needed for water supply purposes. The town’s acquisition of the parcel for open space and recreation would permanently protect the property from development, and guarantee permanent public access for non-motorized boating, swimming, fishing and hiking.

“The size of this grant is attributable to DEP’s recognition of the significant value of preserving the land and the hard work of the team headed by Mayor Vincent Festa Jr. ,with support from Representative William Hamzy and Senator Thomas Colapietro," said Maureen P. Westbrook, Connecticut Water’s vice president of customer and regulatory affairs. "Without their leadership, support and commitment to preserving open space in the town of Plymouth, this grant would not have been possible. We are very grateful to have had the opportunity to uitilize DEP’s grant program, as well as working hand-in-hand with Connecticut Water Company to move forward on this important component of passive recreation and securing natural environments and habitat for our community.” Mayor Festa added.

Connecticut Water and Plymouth will soon finalize the sale price for the parcel that has an appraised market value of $1.615 million. The cost to the town will be defrayed by the DEP’s Open Space and Watershed Land Acquisition grant, and through an undetermined discount in the price by the Connecticut Water. Approval by town residents is required before the acquisition can be finalized. The sale, if approved, is expected to occur in 2012.

“Connecticut Water has worked with various municipalities to permanently protect over 850 acres of land for open space purposes through donations or discount sales, and this grant of $650,000 will go a long way toward the company’s efforts in preserving this land in the town of Plymouth.” Westbrook said. “In 2004, the company donated its Terryville Reservoir property, a 59-acre parcel that became the site of the new high school.”


American Water Receives Award from National Council for Public-Private Partnerships

American Water announced that it has received the 2010 Public-Private Partnership Award from the National Council for Public-Private Partnerships (NCPPP). These awards recognize exemplary projects and services that illustrate the best practices and innovative approaches in the use of public-private partnerships (PPP). The NCPPP awarded American Water the honor in the "Innovation" category for the company's innovative approach of a PPP with the city of Fillmore to design, build and operate the Fillmore Water Recycling Plant.

"We are proud to receive the NCPPP Award, and we share this honor with our colleagues from the city of Fillmore," said Mark Strauss, senior vice president of corporate strategy and business development for American Water. "The Fillmore plant illustrates how public-private partnerships can help communities tackle an infrastructure challenge while maximizing efficiency and value."

In response to a consent decree order to dramatically improve the quality of treated wastewater discharges to the Santa Clara River, the city of Fillmore elected to contract with American Water to build a new, state-of-the-art water recycling plant that would end the practice of river discharges and enable development of a full-scale water reuse system to benefit many areas of the town. The result is a facility that meets the stringent requirements of federal and state regulations as a zero-discharge facility and a water recycling program that irrigates school grounds, parks and other green areas.

The plant currently produces 1 million gallons of water a day that meets the standards for unrestricted reuse irrigation purposes. The current irrigation system provides 200,000 gallons per day to two public schools, the new Two Rivers Park, and a new greenbelt along a historic railroad in downtown Fillmore. About 800,000 gallons per day is discharged to percolation ponds and an underground effluent disposal system that provides groundwater recharge. The irrigation system has reduced the use of potable water sufficiently enough to allow the city to postpone drilling a new well, and has helped preserve its limited supply of quality potable water.

The plant also features advanced technology that maximizes energy efficiency, helping to keep costs down. A flow-equalization system minimizes water flow during the day, when cost and energy use is highest. Wastewater is cycled back into the plant where it is treated during off-peak hours, when power demand and cost are lower.

Presentation of the awards will be made Nov. 17 at the NCPPP Annual Awards Banquet held in conjunction with the Council's Annual Meeting in Arlington, Va. The NCPPP is a non-profit educational institute, with membership from both public and private sectors, that promotes the use of PPPs where appropriate and the use of their best practices. Information about the Council and its activities can be found at


Iowa American Water Field Services Representative Recognized by State Water Utility Association as “Customer Service Hero”

One of Iowa American Water’s field service employees was recently recognized with an honor by the state water utility association. Joseph Whipka, a field services representative, was recently named the first “Customer Service Hero” by the Iowa Section of the American Water Works Association during its annual Customer Service Conference in Altoona. Whipka had been nominated by a longtime colleague. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) is a national trade organization for water utilities across the country.

“Joe represents exactly the type of individual the Iowa Section - American Water Works Association was seeking to recognize; one that goes above and beyond the call of duty to satisfy water utility customers," said Amy Kahler, the Customer Service Committee chairwoman of the Iowa Section of American Water Works Association." We’re pleased to recognize Joe with our first-ever Customer Service Hero award.”

“Joe has worked for Iowa American Water serving customers his entire 37-year career. He has an obvious passion for his profession in the water industry,” said Randy Moore, president of Iowa American Water. “According to those who work with Joe in customer service, he gets an extraordinary amount of work done in a short amount of time and is very patient with customers, always taking the extra time necessary to listen to their concerns and explain the work that needs to be done. He always exhibits the professionalism, knowledge and courtesy that our customers expect and deserve."

In considering candidates for the honor, AWWA’s Iowa Section Customer Service Committee judged nominees on how well they:

  1. Exude a passion for serving others and delivering exceptional customer service;
  2. Demonstrate measurable results in improving customer service in support of the utility’s strategic direction;
  3. Anticipate and exceed the expectations of customers and go above and beyond standard operating procedures to satisfy customers;
  4. Recognize and work well with internal partners and customers;
  5. Demonstrate creativity and innovative problem solving to satisfy customers;
  6. Are committed to continual learning and improvement for self and the utility, and suggest how utility customer service operations could be improved;
  7. Demonstrate strong customer-oriented behaviors, including self-motivation or initiative, communication, accountability, leadership and teamwork.


Illinois American Water’s Cairo District Celebrates 11 Years of Excellence in Safety

Illinois American Water’s Cairo District reached a significant safety milestone in August. According to operations superintendent Stephen Keith, the Cairo District has gone 11 years without experiencing any lost-time accidents.

“Safety is something we take very seriously, and our team is proud of our continued years of excellence in safety,” said Keith. The Cairo District conducts safety training for fork-lift operation, trenching and shoring, respiratory protection and confined spaces on a regular basis. Training includes both classroom and hands-on training. Cairo District employees also participate in facility and job-site audits at every job site to ensure compliance with established workplace safety practices.

Last year, the Cairo District was nominated by the Illinois Section of American Water Works Association for the AWWA Wendell R. LaDue Utility Safety Award, which recognizes excellence in safety.

The Cairo District’s eight employees serve approximately 3,600 customers in Cairo, North Cairo, Future City and Patierdale.