Two New Jersey Fire Departments Earn Top Ratings for Fire Protection Infrastructure

The City of Hackensack’s Fire Department recently earned a Class 1 rating from the Insurance Services Office (ISO), a risk assessment company.  Hackensack now joins Hoboken as the only two municipal fire departments in the state of New Jersey – and only 61 departments in the United States – to have a Class 1 ranking out of more than 48,000 that have been surveyed by the ISO. United Water commends both departments and is proud to provide reliable water service to both communities. Forty percent of the grading is based upon the community’s water supply, and fire protection is a key component of a community’s water infrastructure. To assess the state of a community’s water supply, the ISO surveys all components of the water supply system, including pumps, storage and filtration. It also evaluates the rate of flow the water mains provide, and reviews the condition and maintenance of fire hydrants. This recognition serves as a reminder of the importance of good, reliable and expertly managed municipal water service. These honors for Hoboken and Hackensack come at a time when numerous reports have shown alarming trends of underinvestment and poor maintenance of water infrastructure in many communities across the country. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that it will take $600 billion during the next two decades to bring many community water systems back to standard. Congratulations again to Hoboken and Hackensack, NJ for providing top-notch fire service to their...

United Water Supports Bipartisan Legislation for Hurricane Sandy Tax Relief

Last week, in an effort to provide additional assistance to communities struggling to rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) led a bipartisan coalition in introducing legislation that will help communities affected by Hurricane Sandy to repair and reinvest in vital water and wastewater systems. The hurricane compounded a challenge that many cities, towns and communities were already facing; replacing aging and worn out water and wastewater systems which are vital to public health and the economy. The Hurricane Sandy Tax Relief Act of 2013 (H.R. 2137), modeled after legislation passed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, is aimed at providing tax relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy in Federal Disaster Areas designated by the President. The coalition is supported by Reps. Joseph Crowley (D-NY), Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ), Michael Grimm (R-NY), John Larson (D-CT), Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Charles Rangel (D-NY), Tom Reed (R-NY), Carolyn McCarthy (D-NY) and Jon Runyan (R-NJ). As a water utility service provider in some of the worst hit regions, we are grateful to Rep. Pascrell and this bipartisan coalition from the Northeast for leading the effort in helping these communities get back on their feet and fully recover from Sandy’s devastation. As Bob Iacullo, United Water Executive Vice President, put it: “Sandy affected residents and businesses in numerous states, including 10 states serviced by United Water. We witnessed the damages firsthand and we fully support these incentives to reinvest in water and sewer authorities. This legislation will help cities and counties affected by Sandy to rebuild the backbone of their communities while creating jobs. A new state-by-state private activity...

Preparation Key When Disaster Strikes

More than six months ago when Hurricane Sandy hit the northeast, it was considered to be among the five most destructive storms in US history. Sandy affected residents and businesses in numerous states, including 10 states serviced by United Water. An estimated eight million people in those states lost electrical power, including those in New Jersey, where we serve nearly 1.6 million people. As we look back at our experiences during emergencies such as Sandy, we recognize that detailed emergency planning and preparedness is key in ensuring uninterrupted critical water services to our customers. Despite the magnitude of the storm, our employees worked around-the-clock and made sure we were well prepared to respond in the face of Sandy. During our emergency planning preparations, we maintained close dialogue and worked with state, county and municipal emergency personnel. In addition to being in continuous contact, one of the key elements of our emergency preparedness was the decision to place backup generators on-site days before Sandy made landfall. The use of generators played a crucial role in our crisis response plan and helped us ensure continuity of services to about 98 percent of our 3.7 million customers in the destructive path of Hurricane Sandy and the subsequent nor’easter a few weeks later. As a part of our ongoing crisis preparation, we have set up a full time crisis command center at our office in Boise, ID, which also served as our command center during Hurricane Irene in August 2011. The command center is staffed with our team of experts, all with considerable experience in coordinating and supporting response efforts during emergencies like...

United Water Receives Outstanding Community Leadership Award from Springfield Public Schools

We are excited to share with you the news that United Water was recently awarded the Outstanding Community Leadership Award from Springfield Public Schools. The town of Springfield honored us with this award in recognition of our exceptional outreach and education programs targeting local students. Our ongoing community outreach efforts in Springfield, MA are a part of the World is Our Classroom program. As a founding sponsor of the program, United Water has contributed nearly $775,000 to the program over the past 10 years. Dan Warwick, Springfield Public Schools Superintendent, recently acknowledged our efforts, saying: “United Water is a terrific partner to Springfield Public Schools. I am pleased to present this award to an organization that shares the belief that the key to academic success is engaging students in a dynamic learning environment.” Nearly 20,000 Springfield fifth grade students have gone through the World is Our Classroom program since it began in 2003. The program, which advocates a hands-on, experience based outside the classroom learning experience, has been lauded for its innovative approach to science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) education. Nora Burke Patton, Executive Director of World is Our Classroom, believes the partnership has been a great success, “We are grateful for United Water’s commitment and support over the past decade. This partnership has opened young minds to employment opportunities in science, engineering and the industry.” We at United Water are happy that our efforts are paying off and we can play a role in helping to educate our youth about the environment and their role in keeping our water and wastewater systems safe and clean. Nadine Leslie,...

It’s Important to Stay Vigilant and Protect Ourselves

Yesterday, several bomb blasts occurred in Boston that shook the city and the entire nation. We grieve the loss of those who have lost family members and who have been injured in yesterday’s tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon. In light of that incident, however, we need to take this opportunity to emphasize to our communities the importance of staying vigilant. In times likes these, it is of utmost importance that we remain alert, fully aware of our surroundings and understand the critical steps that need to be taken if we notice any suspicious person or activity around us. Individual alertness and awareness are paramount to public safety, especially in circumstances like these. If you see something, please make sure that you inform your local law enforcement personnel no matter how small or insignificant the incident may seem. We ourselves are the best security system available to us and by following simple yet critical safety tips each individual can serve as the eyes and ears of our community. At United Water, we understand that our facilities are critical to public safety.  Although we have no reason to believe that any utilities or our operations are at risk from yesterday’s events, we are taking steps to ensure that all our employees understand the importance of operational security. As responsible citizens, all of us have an important role to play in public safety and security. The New York Metro Transit Authority said it best in a campaign that has now been adopted across the country: “If you see something, say something.” We offer our deepest condolences and prayers to those affected by the incidents in...

Clean Water as a Vital Natural Resource in New Jersey and Around the World

    Lisette Provencher, Senior Vice President, Operations Support, for United Water and its parent company SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT NORTH AMERICA, recently authored an op-ed in the March edition of Commerce Magazine, the flagship publication of Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey. In her op-ed (page 60), Lisette shares her thoughts on clean water as a vital natural resource in communities from New Jersey to New Delhi. Lisette also talks about some of the key local, national and global policies governing water and its impact on citizens globally. The article is reprinted below for your convenience. New Jersey businesses don’t have to worry about how they get water and sewer service. Turn on the tap, and out comes the water. Flush the toilet and there it goes. Even with Hurricane Sandy slamming its way ashore last October, most service remained intact. You may not find that remarkable, and perhaps you shouldn’t. When it comes to water and sanitation, we Americans generally get what we pay for: dependability even in the most harrowing of natural disasters. Most of the world is not as fortunate. More than 10 percent of the world’s population—780 million—does not have dependable access to water on a calm, sunny day, let alone in the aftermath of a devastating hurricane. And that number, likely an underestimate due to limitations in reporting, is unevenly distributed. In sub-Saharan Africa, only 61 percent of the population has access to so-called “improved” sources of drinking water, compared with more than 90 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. Sanitation is another matter. Forty-seven percent of the world’s population has no access...