Water and Wastewater Contract Operations

Partnerships with NAWC member companies come in many forms, running the spectrum from the full transfer of ownership to a more targeted contract operations partnership. The benefit of a contract operations approach is that these agreements can be scaled and customized to meet a community’s unique water and wastewater needs. There is no one size fits all approach. Click below to read about the most common models of contract operations partnerships:
Water and Wastewater Contract Operations in cities

The benefits of partnering with a Water Contract Operator include:

Strong environmental compliance. When municipalities face Clean Water Act (CWA) and Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) compliance issues, experienced contract operators can provide the expertise and solutions to ensure compliance. Improving environmental stewardship is among the most often-cited reasons municipalities establish a partnership with a contract operator. Contract operators can help communities resolve their environmental compliance issues quickly and cost effectively.
Experienced and qualified staff. In today’s workplace, many municipalities struggle to attract and retain qualified and certified operations staff. Water contract operators offer unique career opportunities and training and recruiting programs that develop and retain staff.
Reduced costs. Water contract operators have strong incentives to operate as efficiently as possible. Public-private partnerships have been shown to lower a water system’s costs by 24 percent on average.
Tailored, innovative solutions. Even with adequate funds, many communities are unable to design and/or implement infrastructure upgrades on their own. A tailored solution from a water contract operator can help meet a community’s unique needs.
Updated technology and industry practices. Contract operators monitor regulations closely, follow developing technology and apply best practices that benefit their clients.
Access to capital. Water contract operators generally have ready access to capital that can help municipalities design, build and finance their water infrastructure projects.
Economies of scale. As systems become increasingly complex and costlier to own and operate, smaller public water systems may find it challenging to meet certain regulatory requirements. Water contract operators can centralize and share costs to achieve economies-of-scale for services like billing, customer service and water testing and for equipment, tools, chemicals and other materials.
Decreased liability. In many municipalities, significant operational, financial and environmental risks go along with managing water and wastewater systems. By transferring those risks to a contract partner, municipalities can reduce their own liability.

Overview of Water Contract Operation Models:

Operations & Maintenance Public partner contracts with a private partner to operate and/or maintain a water system, while the public partner retains ownership of the system, rate-setting authority and overall management. Design-Build-Operate A single private partner designs, builds and operates a facility, while ownership remains with the public partner, who also finances the project. Concessions A private partner operates the system and finances and implements any required capital improvements for a designated period of time, and then transfers the system to the public partner at the end of the specified time. Federal Utility Privatization This model ensures military installations have safe and reliable water systems by partnering with a contract operator, freeing the federal government from the burden of operating the installation’s water infrastructure.

2020 Water & Wastewater Contract Operations Market Report

This report compiles survey data on the contract operations of water and wastewater utilities, with the goal of looking at current trends in the marketplace, measuring growth, and the performance of the private sector involved in these operations.

The Market Report provides a powerful new tool for understanding the state of this subsector, supporting its development and showing the value provided by current market participants. It is not meant to be a scorecard or provide an industry ranking. The numbers reported are completely confidential, with all respondents’ data aggregated to paint a market overview.

Click here to download the 2020 Contract Operations Market Report