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February 15, 2011

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SouthWest Water Company Recognized for Exemplary Contract Operations in California

SouthWest Water Company announced that in 2010 it was recognized with five awards from two local sections of the California Water Environment Association (CWEA): two Plant of the Year Awards, a Safety Agency of the Year Award, a Supervisor of the Year Award, and an Inspirational Operator of the Year Award.

The wastewater treatment plant the company operates for the Mountain House Community Services District in California was named Plant of the Year by CWEA's Northern San Joaquin Valley section. The award highlights the operating team's ability to maintain the plant's permit requirements throughout periods of extensive repairs required to troubleshoot existing construction design issues. The plant is designed to reclaim up to 3 million gallons per day (MGD) of residential, commercial and industrial wastewater, and utilizes Sequential Batch Reactor (SBR) technology to achieve strict effluent requirements.

CWEA's Northern Sacramento Valley section bestowed its Plant of the Year Award to a wastewater treatment plant the company operates for the city of Willows. The award praises the plant's operating team for having zero safety and compliance violations, maintaining all mandatory reporting requirements, and keeping the facility itself in exemplary condition. The tertiary, conventional-activated sludge wastewater treatment plant can treat up to a peak flow of 2 MGD, and serves a community of about 6,200 residents. The SouthWest Water team operates the plant in a safe and efficient manner, meeting all waste discharge permits and producing an effluent that is recycled for irrigation of local farms. This is the second year in a row that this team has won the Plant of the Year Award.

The same CWEA chapter also selected the company's contract with the city of Corning as the Safety Agency of the Year, highlighting the company's strong safety record with no lost-time incidents, its twice-a-month training sessions, up-to-date records, frequency of equipment inspections and strong standard operating procedures.

The chapter also recognized two SouthWest Water employees: District Manager Kathy Stone was presented with the Supervisor of the Year Award; and Facility Manager Jerry Stephens was presented with the Inspirational Operator of the Year Award. Stone, a certified wastewater professional and a SouthWest Water veteran of more than 20 years, oversees all of the company's water and wastewater operations and certified laboratories in California. Nominated by her staff, Stone is called a visionary leader, knowledgeable supervisor and a caring teacher who guides her staff to great performance. Stephens runs a wastewater treatment plant the company operates under contract for the city of Red Bluff, and was commended for volunteering his time at various chapter events and going above and beyond the call of duty.

"Congratulations to our team on these merit awards!" said SouthWest Water's Managing Director of Operations and Maintenance Chris Malinowski. "We are proud of being recognized for the high standard of operation excellence that exists at SouthWest Water Company."

CWEA is dedicated to enhancing the education and effectiveness of California's wastewater professionals and to being the premier wastewater industry association in California.


California American Water Appoints New Corporate Counsel

California American Water announced that Sarah Leeper has been appointed to the position of corporate counsel. Leeper will be based at the company’s San Francisco office.

In her role as corporate counsel, Leeper will focus on the company’s rates and regulatory filings. Corporate counsel plays a vital function in the rate setting process and assists in formulating, drafting and filing regulatory requests at the California Public Utilities Commission. Her goal will be to assist the team in improving the overall quality of the work product submitted to regulators while reducing the need for external counsel and the associated expense.

“Sarah Leeper has a proven track record of successful work with regulatory agencies in the state, as we have witnessed firsthand in the work she has performed on behalf of our company as outside counsel,” said Rob MacLean, president of California American Water. “Her many years of experience working for various utilities will greatly strengthen our legal and regulatory operations.”

Leeper joins California American Water after having spent several years at the law firm of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips, where she represented utility clients in rate cases and other matters before the CPUC. Before that, Leeper spent nearly a decade representing utility companies in various matters before the CPUC and the Federal Communications Commission. Leeper earned her law and undergraduate degrees from Bringham Young University. She is a member of the California Bar and is fluent in Russian.


Leominster's Wastewater Treatment Plant Receives Award for Its High Safety Standards

The city of Leominster wastewater treatment plant's safety program has been ranked as one of the safest in New England by the Water Environment Federation (WEF), which recognized the plant with its George W. Burke, Jr. Award. Leominster's employees received the award at the annual conference of WEF's regional branch, the New England Water Environment Association (NEWEA).

WEF's George W. Burke, Jr. Award is presented annually with the purpose of encouraging an active and effective safety program in both municipal and industrial wastewater facilities. Leominster's safety program includes monthly training, an emphasis on accountability and strong project management leadership, backed by a longstanding record of safety. This is the second time the plant has won the award, having previously won in 1998.

"Part of the advantage of being a Veolia Water North America employee is a safe working environment," said Keavin Nelson, the president of Veolia Water North America, Eastern Region. "This safety award demonstrates the absolute commitment of not only the Leominster staff, but all Veolia personnel, to hold everyone accountable for safety."

The Leominster facility has been managed by Veolia Water North America since 1983, when the city entered into a public-private partnership for its wastewater treatment. The partnership has been a remarkable success, and recently marked more than 25 years without a lost-time accident, a safety milestone that only a few North American municipal water facilities have achieved.

The health and welfare of its employees is a core value at Veolia Water, which ended 2010 with record employee safety numbers that significantly exceed the national average for private-industry water, wastewater and other systems. According to the most current data available from the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, Veolia Water's Recordable Incidence Rate (RIR) is approximately 37 percent better than the industry average, and its Lost-Time Incident Rate (LTIR) is 67 percent better than the industry average.

"Veolia Water North America is committed to the technically competent employees that are at the heart of providing clean water services for Americans," said Nelson. "The employees of Leominster live that every day, and we can't think of a more deserving winner of this prestigious safety award."


Pennichuck Corporation and City of Nashua File Joint Petition with NH Public Utilities Commission to Approve Merger

Pennichuck Corporation has announced that on Feb. 4, 2011, the city of Nashua, N.H., and the company filed a joint petition with the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission requesting that the NHPUC approve the acquisition of the company by the city pursuant to a Merger Agreement made effective as of Nov. 11, 2010.

On Nov. 12, 2010, the company announced that it had entered into a merger agreement with the city pursuant to which the city will purchase all of the outstanding common stock and common stock equivalents of the company for $29.00 per share, or approximately $138 million, in cash. At that time, the company also announced that, among other conditions precedent and contingencies: (a) consummation of the transaction is subject to advance approval by the NHPUC pursuant to New Hampshire law; and (b) the city’s obligation to complete the transaction is subject to there being no approval conditions imposed by the NHPUC that would materially adversely affect the city’s expected economic benefits from the transaction.

The company cannot predict how or when the NHPUC will rule on the transaction. However, the company believes the review process, which is expected to begin on or about Feb. 24, 2011, and will include notice to interested parties, public hearings, discovery and testimony by the city, the company and other interested parties, may extend into the third or fourth quarter of 2011.

Closing of this transaction is also subject to: (i) approval and ratification of the merger agreement and the related financing by affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of the city’s Board of Aldermen within a 90-day period set by law; (ii) approval by the holders of not less than two-thirds of the outstanding shares of the company’s common stock; and (iii) Nashua’s ability to obtain appropriate financing after all conditions precedent (including those specified above and other customary closing conditions) have been met.

On Jan. 11, 2011, the Board of Aldermen voted 14 to 1 to approve and ratify the merger agreement and the issuance of bonds to finance the acquisition.

“This stock sale will enable our shareholders to avoid double-taxation, and the city will acquire more assets at a lower total cost than would have applied in a condemnation taking," Duane C. Montopoli, Pennichuck’s president and chief executive, said regarding the acquisition." Consequently, this is a true win-win outcome for both the company’s shareholders and the citizens of Nashua.”

“I am also very pleased to note that we have been able to resolve this dispute in a manner that will allow our workforce to continue providing exceptional service to the customers and communities we serve," Montopoli added.

While the company and the city remain committed to completing this transaction as quickly as possible, it is not possible to predict whether all the approvals, contingencies and other conditions precedent to closing will be obtained, resolved or satisfied, as applicable, and therefore if and when the transaction will close.


Pennsylvania American Water Earns “Client of Distinction” Honors from Engineering Council

Pennsylvania American Water received the 2010 Client of Distinction Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies of Pennsylvania (ACEC/PA) during the group's annual awards banquet on Feb. 4, 2011, in Hershey, Pa. This ACEC/PA award acknowledges an engineering client in the public or private sector that has made significant contributions
to the advancement and growth of the consulting engineering profession.

Gannett Fleming nominated Pennsylvania American Water for the Client of Distinction Award. As part of ACEC/PA’s award criteria, nominees must demonstrate fair business practices in contracting with engineering firms, and showcase beneficial approaches toward team building and partnering.

In its nomination, Gannett Fleming recognized Pennsylvania American Water for its fair business practices, focus on fostering a team-building atmosphere, commitment to quality that goes above and beyond regulatory requirements, and commitment to completing projects on time and on budget.

“We are honored that the engineering profession has recognized Pennsylvania American Water for the expertise and teamwork that go into the water infrastructure projects that serve our customers,” said Pennsylvania American Water Vice President of Engineering David Kaufman. “With the millions of dollars we’re investing to maintain and upgrade water systems, it’s essential that we develop strong partnerships to ensure the highest quality design and construction.”

“Gannett Fleming is proud of the 40-year relationship it has maintained with Pennsylvania American Water,” said Gene C. Koontz, P.E., a senior vice president and director of the Environmental Resources Division at Gannett Fleming. “Throughout those four decades, Pennsylvania American Water has proven to be a reliable, trustworthy and value-oriented client. Gannett Fleming looks forward to continuing to partner with such an esteemed organization in the future.”


American Water Receives New Grant from the Water Research Foundation

American Water Works Company, Inc. recently announced that it has been awarded a research grant of $250,000 from the Water Research Foundation. American Water will directly receive $125,000 for analytical costs, supplies, labor and other research costs, and approximately 20 utilities will provide in-kind contributions of $590,992. The total value of the project is $840,992.
The ongoing research study, titled "An Operational Definition of Biostability in Drinking Water," will examine practical indicators of distribution system biostability, including change in biodegradable organic matter; disinfectant demand and biodegradation of haloacetic acids; biofilm formation and corrosion rates; and biological consumption of ammonia, nitrate, and phosphate. American Water, which will serve as the project lead, will perform the research in collaboration with Dr. Patrick Evans, vice president with CDM.

"We are pleased that the Water Research Foundation continues to recognize American Water as a leader in industry research," said Dr. Mark LeChevallier, American Water's director of environmental stewardship and innovation. "Our team of expert scientists and engineers, coupled with our large and diverse geographical footprint, provides an exceptional opportunity to study and develop best practices for the water industry."


Engineering Students Impress New Jersey American Water Engineers

The dream of being an engineer was bolstered for hundreds of students who were given insight and encouragement by practicing engineers from New Jersey American Water – many of them tasked with designing cities of the future that could treat illness or physical disabilities – during the fourth annual New Jersey Engineers Future Cities Competition, which was held at Rutgers University’s Livingston Campus.

On display inside the college’s student center were dozens of model cities built to cure everything from arthritis to cancer. New Jersey American Water sponsored two of the awards given at the competition: First place overall, which was awarded to the “Per Aspera Ad Astera” team from Northfield Community School in Northfield, N.J.; and in the specialty category of Best
Residential Zone, which was awarded to the “West Jointland” team from Heritage Middle School in Livingston, N.J.

Both teams will receive a $500 Science, Technology, Engineering and Math grant for classroom materials. The winning students from Northfield will tour a New Jersey American Water treatment facility, and will be guests of the company at the American Water Works Association’s New Jersey (AWWA – NJ) chapter’s annual conference in Atlantic City this March. The Heritage Middle School team will also tour a New Jersey American Water treatment plant.

“It was truly amazing to see the concepts that the students developed in creating the cities of the future,” said Suzanne Chiavari, vice president of engineering for New Jersey American Water. “Their visions for the future are inspiring, and we are looking forward to welcoming to them to our water treatment plant and at the AWWA conference to share our experiences with them.”

This year’s Future City Competition was the largest in its four-year history, with more than 30 schools and 100 teams competing in 24 categories.

New Jersey Chapter Scholarship

An application for NAWC’s New Jersey Chapter Scholarship may be found here. To be eligible, one must (a) be a U.S. citizen, (b) be a resident of New Jersey and have lived in the state for at least five years, (c) be a high school senior or college student intending to pursue a degree at a New Jersey college or university (two- or four-year) as an undergraduate or graduate student (part or full-time), and (d) maintaining at least 3.0 on a 4.0 grading scale. Applications must be postmarked no later than April 1.