Tackling water pollution in Nassau County, New York

Tackling water pollution in Nassau County, New York

  In the U.S. there are nearly 16,000 wastewater systems that prevent water pollution by taking in municipal sewage, treating it, and returning it to its natural state. A marvel of the Clean Water Act of 1972, our nation committed to cleaning, preserving and safeguarding its waterways and the aquatic life that depends on them while maintaining an advanced public health system that is of envy to many parts of the world – where 2.4 billion people lack access to sanitation. Indeed during this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, tourists were warned of polluted beaches as only 40% of Rio de Janero’s sewage is treated; the rest is dumped and left to decompose in oceans and lagoons. Aside from the “yuck” factor – anyone who lives near a beach town knows that beach closures can send beach-goers running and long-term pollution can destroy local economies. It’s no wonder that after Hurricane Sandy hit Long Island and the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant failed to treat tens of millions of gallons of sewage before dumping it into the Western Bays on Nassau County’s South Shore – a coalition of citizen activists, environmental leaders and elected officials decided that it was time to tackle this environmental problem in a serious way. First, Federal, State, County and local elected leaders from New York and Nassau County worked to secure over $800 million in funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to upgrade the plant which is part of a system that treats the sewage of 1.2 million residents of densely populated Nassau County. Then, County Executive Ed Mangano selected United Water...
Working towards achieving excellence in the environmental industry

Working towards achieving excellence in the environmental industry

We are proud to announce that SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT NORTH AMERICA rose sharply up the ranks of the largest environmental services companies operating in North America in the annual industry listing complied by Engineering News Record. Our rise in the rankings, which are based on revenues, is due in part to United Water, SENA Waste Services, Degremont Technologies and Utility Service Group reporting jointly. What make this news even more exciting for us is that is clear that our ambition to excel all industries in which we operate achievable. Currently we rank: Second in serving municipal clients in the country Third for water treatment and supply services Third in companies specializing in only environmental services (versus heavy construction) We could not have achieved this significant business growth within our companies without the dedication of our employees. It takes innovation and dedication to achieve this success. Here are some of the amazing projects that have recently contributed to our growth within the environmental services industry: SENA Waste Services won two operation and maintenance contracts with a total value of $120 million, with the City of Edmonton, Alberta. Operating in tandem, the Edmonton Composting Facility and the Materials Recovery Facility at the Edmonton Waste Management Center enable the city to divert 60% of household waste from landfill through recycling and composting. United Water, in February, announced the signing of a new five-year agreement worth approximately $50 million with the West Basin Municipal Water District to operate and maintain the District’s Edward C. Little Water Recycling Plant and four satellite plants. Together the facilities comprise one of the most unique water recycling operations...
United Water continues to work towards ambitious energy reduction goals

United Water continues to work towards ambitious energy reduction goals

The United Water blog sat down with our company’s Energy Manager Elizabeth Watson to learn more about the goal to reduce energy usage by an additional five percent by the end of 2016. This goal is particularly ambitious since the company has already marked significant progress in this area:  since 2009, we have reduced greenhouse gas emissions in our operations by 16.5 % and shown a 28.5% improvement in energy efficiency. Elizabeth Watson, United Water’s first Energy Manager, has a dirty, little secret: Most clean water in this country is delivered with the help of dirty, coal-burning power plants. That’s because water requires pumping, and pumps require electricity, and almost half of U.S. electricity is produced by burning coal. Watson readily shares the secret in the hopes of pulling the plug on as much energy usage as possible. Right now, United Water uses 520 million kilowatt hours per year—enough to power 48,000 homes—to process and distribute water and wastewater. The company’s goal is to reduce energy usage five percent by the end of 2016. That’s enough energy to power 2,400 of those homes for a year. Why is United Water so invested in reducing energy? United Water cares a great deal about energy and sustainability, and we’ve done a lot over the years. We’re just stepping it up a notch. We already cut the company’s annual energy bill by $1.3 million and reduced carbon dioxide emissions by 5,500 metric tons. But we still need to do more, and we are committed to make it happen to reduce energy usage by an additional five percent by the end of 2016! That is a...
10 Smart Water Tips for Conserving and Living Green

10 Smart Water Tips for Conserving and Living Green

  United Water recently kicked off our annual conservation program with the release of an annual Conservation Guide, a publication designed to promote simple methods of conserving water.  In an effort to optimize other natural resources as well, we have chosen to publish the guide for conserving water as an interactive e-book, available via our website along with 10 tips for smart water use available on local twitter and facebook channels throughout the country.  Due to the high desert climate in Idaho, additional conservation information is available for Boise residents. The guide covers a broad range of topics involving water conservation, and even highlights notable conservation efforts made by local groups over the last year, including work from local high school students. Kathryn Hilburn, a Ninth Grade student at Boise’s North Junior High School, produced the First Place winner in United Water Idaho’s inaugural Summer Conservation Student Video Contest. Hilburn’s entry, titled “Show Water You Care,” was judged to be the video that best communicated a strong conservation message in a clear and easily understood manner. Using simple artwork and narration, Hilburn showed the high value we place on water in our everyday lives and the consequences of wasting the precious resource. In recognition of her achievement, United Water made a $1,500 donation to the Boise Public Schools Education Foundation for her Accelerated Biology class.  Additionally, the video will be aired on local TV stations in Idaho as part of our annual summer water conservation Public Service media campaign. Residential water use spikes across the country during the summer months due to lawn watering.  The publication provides tips and...
Distinguishing ourselves in workplace safety excellence

Distinguishing ourselves in workplace safety excellence

  As a company, we maintain the safety-oriented mindset that a little extra effort today can prevent tragedy tomorrow.  Workplace safety being one of our primary goals at United Water; we are pleased with our progress on this area over the last year, particularly in comparison to the industry averages across the water and sewer sectors reflected in the Bureau of Labor and Statistics’ (BLS) most recent report. In 2013, we outperformed our water industry and municipal peers in workplace safety.  We realized a 40 percent decline in workplace accidents or injuries that resulted in lost time.  We now have less than half of these accidents than a company that meets the industry average has. This is consistent with United Water’s 5-year trend in the right direction. What’s more is that 85 of our facilities even went the whole year without a single workplace accident that resulted in time away from work. Statistics pertaining to less severe incidents came in at an impressive 43 percent less than the most recently published national average for state and local governments and 35 percent less than the water and sewer sector.  Measured by the Recordable Incident Rate, this data includes injuries involving medical treatment and restrictions. We believe that these impressive results stem directly from the time and energy our employees have dedicated to workplace safety. Over the course of the last year, our 2,250 employees amassed a total of 51,894 safety training hours, which divides out to about 23 hours per person. We want to keep upping the ante for ourselves and fulfill the goals we set for ourselves with the...
Water – we act locally and think globally

Water – we act locally and think globally

    Did you know that—at a global level-more than 780 million people do not have access to drinking water, and that more than 2.5 billion have to live without adequate sanitation? Also, approximately 6 to 8 million people die each year from water-related diseases. As part of a global company that provides essential life services, we act locally but maintain a global sense of responsibility for providing solutions to these challenges. Last week, our own Patrick Cairo, senior vice president of Corporate Development, led a discussion in Washington, DC to galvanize leaders around collective solutions for global water challenges in advance of International Water Week – to be held in Singapore in early June. Speakers highlighted the alarming facts and numbers behind water and sanitation around the world, stressing that the private sector has to be a key component in this battle; and agreeing that all sectors must be accountable for results. A speaker from the Millennium Challenge Corporation pointed out that partnering with a company like United Water – or in this case, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT—and making a water project “work” for private financing can provide solutions and bolster the local banking system. As an example, the speaker cited the Public-Private Partnership that invested in and expanded upon a wastewater treatment plant in Jordan. This is why United Water and its parent company Suez Environnement provide local authorities with public-private solutions, from water management to skills transfer, in order to combine quality of service with environmental performance and results. It is infinitely possible to make water projects work for both public and private sectors. Doing so will also...