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April 12, 2011

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Member News

NAWC New England Chapter to Hold Meeting

The New England Chapter of the National Association of Water Companies will hold their Spring meeting April 28 – 29 in Ogunquit, Maine.

On April 28 the Chapter’s associate members will host a meet and greet social hour before the Chapter dinner.

On April 29th the meeting will begin with an update on regulatory activities in New England followed by Pennichuck Water who will update the members on the status of their pending acquisition. An impressive panel representing the utilities, regulators from MA, PA and RI and customer advocates will provide a spirited discussion on rate making issues. There will be time for questions and answers and dialogue with your colleagues, which is always a highlight of these meetings.

The New England Chapter invites all who are interested to come and participate.

For more information on the meeting including registration, please click here.


Martin Kerckhoff Promoted to Deputy General Counsel of Operations for American Water

Martin Kerckhoff has been promoted to serve as American Water's new Deputy General Counsel of Operations. Kerckhoff brings to this new, expanded role more than 20 years of experience as a corporate lawyer and business leader.

In his new, national position, Kerckhoff is responsible for managing the company's Legal Department that supports operating subsidiaries throughout the country. In addition, he now oversees the national Government Affairs function. These responsibilities involve oversight of more than 50 lawyers and legal support staff, as well as 13 government affairs professionals, across the United States and Canada.

Kerckhoff joined American Water six years ago as Regional General Counsel for the Central Region which included Missouri American Water and Illinois American Water, and later served as Divisional General Counsel for the company's Western Division.

Kerckhoff continues to be headquartered from the company's St. Louis County office.


Watch Us As We Grow

New Visitor Space in the NAWC Office

Members are invited to visit the downtown Washington offices of the NAWC, and once you’re here, why not stay and take a few calls in our new workspace which is available for use by our members. We have completed an expansion of our office to help make it a hub for NAWC activity. Many of our company executives and managers are frequently in Washington and we encourage you to increase your productivity between meetings or before you head home by working in your association’s office for a while. The NAWC team here will enjoy welcoming you.

Along with the two furnished and fully-wired offices for visitors, we have added a small conference room and expanded our publications and collateral library. We now have great space for NAWC committee meetings and brainstorming sessions as well as your private business meetings.

And in NAWC’s continued effort to be a green office, we have installed a tap water filter and chiller and are happy to fill up for you one of our new sleek and reusable Vapur® collapsible water bottles.

If you will be in the Washington, DC, area and would like to use our new visitor offices or conference rooms, please contact our Executive Assistant, Jean Smith, via email or (202) 349-7303.


American Water Honored in Healthiest Employers Awards

American Water Works Company, Inc., was named as one of the winners in the Philadelphia Business Journal's Healthiest Employers Awards.

The Healthiest Employers Awards program recognizes organizations in the Greater Philadelphia region that are committed to creating a healthy workplace. The award utilizes an online assessment tool that measures employee wellness programs in six key categories, including culture and leadership commitment, foundational components, strategic planning, communication, programming, and reporting and analysis. Answers to the assessment are scored and companies are automatically ranked. The highest-ranking winner in each category (based on number of employees) will be announced in June.

American Water launched its official health and wellness program, Healthy Solutions, to its 7,000-plus employees nationwide in July 2010. The program includes access to a dedicated website, on which employees and their families can participate in a free, confidential health assessment, as well as get tools and tips about health, fitness, stress management and weight management. The program also offers wellness challenges throughout the year and access to customized healthy living coaching programs, as well as financial incentives and other rewards to employees for participation.

"American Water is committed to the health and well-being of our employees. Building better health not only benefits our employees and their families, it makes good business sense," says Vice President of Human Resources Sean Burke. "By giving our employees the tools to be healthier, we're building a more productive work force and healthy work environment, as well as helping to manage our increasing health care expenses."


American States Water Company Announces Regulatory Approval of the Sale of Its Arizona Utility

American States Water Company reported that on March 30, 2011 the Arizona Corporation Commission approved the sale of AWR's wholly-owned subsidiary in Arizona, Chaparral City Water Company. On June 7, 2010, AWR entered into a stock purchase agreement with EPCOR Water (USA) Inc. to sell all of the common stock of CCWC for a total purchase price of $35 million, including the assumption of approximately $6 million of long-term debt. The purchase price is subject to certain adjustments for changes in retained earnings. The consummation of the transaction contemplated by the agreement is subject to customary conditions. The transaction is expected to be completed during the second quarter of 2011.


Illinois American Water Names Barry Suits as Vice President of Operations

Barry Suits has been promoted to Vice President of Operations for Illinois American Water, effective April 4, 2011. Suits has served as operations manager for Illinois American Water’s Champaign District since July 2005. His water industry career began 17 years ago when he joined the former Northern Illinois Water Corp. (NIWC), headquartered in Champaign, as a project engineer. In 1994, he was selected to lead NIWC’s engineering department. Following Illinois American Water’s acquisition of NIWC in 1999, Suits was promoted to operations manager of the Champaign County District. He left Illinois American Water briefly in August 2004 for a regional engineering position with Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association but he returned to the company less than a year later as operations manager in Champaign.

Suits earned a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Illinois. He is a registered Professional Engineer in the State of Illinois. He has been an active member in civic and community organizations, which includes serving on several local boards and as president of the Urbana (IL) Rotary. He is a member of American Water Works Association, Illinois Society of Professional Engineers, Urbana Rotary Club and the Greater Champaign County Chapter of American Business Clubs (AMBUCS).


New Jersey American Water Announces New Programs for Low Income Customers

New Jersey American Water customers who qualify for billpaying assistance under the company’s Help to Others (H2O) program may also be eligible for free water saving programs to help reduce their monthly water bills.

Qualified New Jersey American Water customers can now receive water audits by phone. Representatives will offer tips on how to find leaks, conserve water, and help customers determine how water-efficient their homes are. Customers could also receive free water-saving retrofit kits, as well as some in-home leak repairs and the installation of water-efficient devices. Eligible customers will be contacted by Measuring & Monitoring Services, Inc. (MMSI), which administers the program. In addition, some customers may qualify for a 100 percent discount on their water service charge.

“The smallest leak in a home could add a significant amount to a customer’s water bill,” said John Bigelow, president of New Jersey American Water. “These new components to our low income program will help customers use water more efficiently and save money while, at the same time, protect a precious natural resource.”

For the last eight years, New Jersey American Water has offered low income customers two assistance programs:

  • H2O Help to Others Grants
    H2O Help to Others helps to pay a portion of the bills of those who demonstrate a true need within a defined income level. A grant from the H2O Help to Others Program may not cover a recipient’s entire water bill. In some cases, recipients must cover a portion of their bill, based on their ability to pay. In order to qualify for this program, customers must have annual incomes at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty guidelines.
  • H2O Help to Others Discount
    The discount takes the H2O Help to Others program one step further by providing aid to New Jersey American Water’s most economically challenged customers through rate reductions. In order to qualify for this program, customers must have annual incomes at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty guidelines.

Last year, New Jersey American Water teamed up with NJ SHARES to accept and process payment assistance applications for both programs, determine each applicant’s eligibility and administer grants according to the program guidelines. Eligibility guidelines are established by New Jersey American Water and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. In 2010, New Jersey American Water assisted more than 600 customers with more than $170,000 in grants.


California American Water Funds 2011 Environmental Grant Program

California American Water announced it is accepting applications for its 2011 Environmental Grant Program. The company will award several grants for a combined total of $10,000 to innovative community-based environmental projects that improve, restore or protect watersheds and drinking water supplies within the state.

A wide variety of conservation projects are eligible for funding, such as watershed cleanups, reforestation efforts, biodiversity projects, streamside buffer restoration projects, wellhead protection initiatives and hazardous waste collection efforts. "We all share in the tremendous benefits California’s diverse watersheds provide and, just as much, the responsibility to maintain them," said Rob MacLean, president of California American Water. "That is why we are encouraging municipalities, schools, environmental organizations and civic groups to apply for a grant to support projects that will benefit their local water ecosystem."

In 2010, the program supported the MEearth Habitat to establish a Water Conservation Demonstration Center as part of the educational offerings of its new Green Classroom, which opened last fall in the company’s Monterey service district. The funds were used to install a small greywater garden and rainwater harvesting system for two structures, interpretive signage and a series of workshops to teach the community how to develop these projects in homes and businesses.

The second recipient was Mount Olive Alternative High School located within the company’s Los Angeles service district for its Mount Olive Outdoor School Experience (MOOSE) program. The grant was used to establish raised bed gardens at eight schools to demonstrate drought-tolerant planting, effective irrigation, vermiculture, composting and vertical gardening as part of the science curriculum.


$2,000 Raised for Water For People in WV-AWWA Auction

Artists and businesses from across West Virginia donated works of art and other items for a silent auction hosted by the West Virginia Section of the American Water Works Association (WV-AWWA) over the weekend. The auction raised $2,030 for Water For People, a nonprofit international development organization dedicated to improving the lives of people in the developing world by supporting sustainable drinking water, hygiene and sanitation projects.

The items up for bid at the event included watercolors by well-known Beckley-area artists Barbara Daniel, Mary Anne Hodson and JoAnn Byron; an acrylic from Brenda Kincaid, also of the Beckley area; photographs from Charleston amateur photographers Mark Kirkpatrick, Beverly Bisbee and Dawn Combs; a drawing by professional photographer and pastel artist Richard S. Lee, also of Charleston; a vase and water pitcher from Blenko Glass in Milton; blackberry wine from Daniel Vineyards of Crab Orchard; an autographed copy of coffee table book “West Virginia Beauty: Familiar & Rare,” with photos by Steve Shaluta and text by Jeanne Mozier, that was donated by Taylor Books of Charleston; and a gift certificate for a two-night stay at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs.

“On behalf of AWWA, I want to express my sincere appreciation to everyone who donated items for this event,” said WV-AWWA Chair Gary Facemyer of Hatch Mott MacDonald Consulting Engineers. “This auction featured some of the incredible talent we have in West Virginia while also helping out a very worthy cause.”

The auction, the theme of which was “The Best of West Virginia,” was held during an AWWA regional officers meeting in Charleston attended by 50 drinking water utility professionals from nine states and the territory of Puerto Rico.

New York Chapter Spring Conference

The NAWC New York Chapter Spring Conference will be on Thursday, May 19, at The Desmond Hotel and Conference Center (660 Albany Rd., Albany, NY).

A cocktail hour will begin at 5:00 p.m. In conjunction with an update of the Chapter’s Subcommittee activity regarding website development, Jessica Knight, NAWC Director of Strategic Relations and Communications for NAWC, will update us on the website activity at the national level. The main event of the evening will be dedicated to the first annual award of six scholarships to students from high schools in N AWC members’ service areas.

For more information, email Rose Simpson.

Susan Mays Presents Benefits of Social Media to NAWC Board of Directors

In front of 50 of her industry peers at this year’s Winter Leadership Meeting in San Antonio, TX, CH2M HILL’s Marketing and Communications Director, Susan Mays, spoke to NAWC board members about how water utilities must socialize their communications strategy from just having a website to actually engaging with customers through a robust web presence. “Social media doesn’t change what we say as water professionals, only how and where we say it,” explains Mays.

With 24 years of experience in corporate communications and public relations, and 22 of those spent working in the water and wastewater field, Mays is no stranger to having to make the business case to C-level executives for investing into new marketing technology and consumer trends. Her recent multimedia presentation displayed how other utilities e.g. electric, broadband, and cities were harnessing the power of the web to provide real-time information during a weather crisis, as well as when solving customer service issues efficiently.

With her journalism degree from the University of Missouri and nearly three dozen awards to her credit, Mays currently serves as the chair of NAWC’s Communications Committee and is responsible for CH2M HILL’s advertising strategy, employee communications, conferences, community relations, media relations, and web management including social media.

Jessica Knight, NAWC’s Director of Strategy Relations and Communications, considers the association and its members incredibly lucky to have access to the expert council of Mays, who helped to ensure that the 2009 merger of the NAWC and Water Partnership Council was a win-win for both investor owned utilities and water service contractors.

“Susan is just an amazing leader with a reputation for marketing integrity,” remarked Knight. “She asks all the right questions and always helps NAWC do what’s right by its members and most importantly, by the customers our members serve.”