How does a large water utility prepare for inclement weather?

How does a large water utility prepare for inclement weather?

The United Water Blog sat down with Tom Neilan, senior director of operations for United Water New Jersey to find out.  United Water Blog:  A new winter storm that is expected to bring significant snow and severe cold is coming to the region. You provide water service for 800,000 customers in Northern New Jersey. What do you do to prepare for something like this? Tom Neilan: Well, our priority is to keep the water flowing, despite any conditions that may arise. Since the storm came onto the radar, we have been carefully monitoring the weather and taking necessary action to protect the integrity of our facilities and water supplies. Moreover, our emergency crews are aware that despite the weather, they must be available 24 hours a day to respond to any situation that may occur. United Water Blog: You said you have been taking actions to prepare – can you give us some examples of what that might look like at one of your major treatment facilities and throughout your network? Tom Neilan: We have been testing backup generators. In the event of an electricity loss, we have invested significantly in backup sources to keep the water flowing. Water storage facilities – such as reservoirs – are kept full.  And we have an extra supply of water treatment chemicals on hand. In the event of prolonged road or rail closures, water quality will not falter. As I mentioned before, our dedicated emergency personnel will be vigilant and available around the clock. United Water Blog: It sounds like you have good preparedness measures in place. But I know that mother...
United Water and Nassau County Begin Partnership to Improve Environmental Health of Waterways

United Water and Nassau County Begin Partnership to Improve Environmental Health of Waterways

On January 2, 2015 United Water began a 20-year partnership with Nassau County in the Long Island suburbs of New York City.  Together with the County, United Water will operate and manage three sewage treatment plants and collection system for 1.2 million people.  It is our responsibility to promote a sustainable community in Nassau County and return clean, treated water to surrounding bays and estuaries. United Water also welcomed over 130 county employees.  The employees heard from United Water CEO Bertrand Camus who stressed the importance of this pollution control contract and its promise to improve the quality of life for neighboring residents. County officials reminded the group that local environmental groups have called this project a “reason for hope” and Long Islanders are now looking forward to a day when health is restored to surrounding bays and estuaries and clamming and fishing make a dramatic comeback. Before beginning their duties, employees signed an environment, health and safety pledge to each other and to the communities they are responsible for serving.   Nadine Leslie, United Water Environmental Services President reinforced that while it will certainly take some time to make all the improvements we’re planning, in the end, we will create a state-of-the-art, resilient public service which Nassau County can rely upon. On “Day 1” we were pleased to announce that the project started out having already met an important milestone; already exceeding its guaranteed $10 million in first-year savings to the county by almost $2 million. According to an independent adviser to the county, the project will save Nassau County taxpayers a guaranteed minimum of $230 million during the terms...
United Water Begins Water & Sewer Operations in Borough of Middletown, PA

United Water Begins Water & Sewer Operations in Borough of Middletown, PA

On December 31, 2014, United Water joined the Borough of Middletown, PA community and commenced operations of the water and sewer system. On “Day 1,″  Nadine Leslie, President of United Water Environmental Services welcomed six employees to the United Water Family who had previously worked for the Middletown Borough Authority.  Leslie challenged the employees to “set an example” for environmental compliance and safety for the company which, she emphasized, has deeply rooted values and high standards in these areas. Employees then appropriately underwent health and safety training before ceremoniously accepting their new personal protective equipment (PPE). Shortly thereafter, employees began their hard-hat-clad routine of delivering safe drinking water to Borough residents, and returning cleaned and treated wastewater to surrounding water bodies.                 This team of employees is now part of a larger family with regional, national and global resources.  They’re also part of a landmark deal to make the Borough debt free and set this small college town onto a path of revitalization and prosperity. As part of the concession agreement, a joint venture of KKR and United Water made an initial $43 million payment to the Middletown Borough Authority to retire outstanding debt including an unfunded pension liability for Borough employees.  According to a Borough Official, this will be the first time the Borough is debt free in over 50 years. United Water and KKR have also committed to financing another $83 million in infrastructure improvements throughout the life of the 50-year contract. Indeed 6 underground infrastructure projects are already underway, including ones that will support transportation access to the Penn...
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...
Developing sustainably and measuring progress

Developing sustainably and measuring progress

As part of a global environmental and life services company, we recognize that our actions in water, environmental services and waste management have impacts that extend far beyond our daily routine.  Our expertise in optimizing increasingly scarce natural resources faces demands for innovation as populations grow, ecosystems become ever more fragile and society expects and offers more input into resource management decisions. Our employee motto is “Making the planet sustainable is the best job on earth,” and while we carry that with pride, it also comes with a high level of social and environmental responsibility. United Water recently released our annual Sustainable Development Report, which is designed to provide the many communities we serve with information regarding our progress toward social, environmental, and other non-financial goals. We are committed to transparency – and to providing information both on our progress and on areas where additional improvement is needed. We continue to innovatively reduce environmental impact, with results that include a 28.5% increase in energy efficiency since 2009. In the same time frame, we realized a 16.5% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, as well as a 12.4% decline in non-revenue water, or water lost within the distribution system. We’ve also shown progress in other non-financial areas, such as a 40% decline in 2013 alone of workplace accidents that resulted in time out of work. As a major actor of sustainable development in local economies, we must set an example by making a positive impact through our own operations. And we must lead by partnering with municipalities across the country; and encourage them to do the same. We continue to use...
Safety First: Call in before digging in

Safety First: Call in before digging in

  It’s beginning to look a lot like springtime! And that means it’s time to work outdoors and tackle many “do it yourself” DIY projects around the house and neighborhood. Are you planning a home improvement job? Planting a tree? Installing a fence or deck? Hiring a contractor? Wait! Here’s what you need to know first! Water main breaks and other service disruptions are frequently caused by contractors who made haste to do a job and neglected to call 8-1-1 to locate underground cable, fiber optic, gas, electric, water or sewer lines before digging.  Don’t be THAT person! 811 is a smart and easy way to avoid water main break, an electrical outage or sometimes worse; a gas accident. You can dial 8-1-1 from anywhere in the country a few days prior to breaking ground, and your call will be routed to your local “One-Call”  Center. An operator will walk you through the process and then send a locator to mark the approximate location of your underground lines, pipes and cables. It is as easy as it sounds and it can keep you and your neighbors safe! We do our part by calling 811 in order to prevent damage to underground utility infrastructure and to ensure public safety and environmental protection when we work. We’re making many upgrades to our infrastructure throughout the country.  We are well on our way to investing $1 billion in infrastructure over the next 5 years and we are becoming a frequent caller.  We are committed to “Doing it Right,” working safely and preventing risks. For more information on your local One Call Center, or...