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...
Public investment – minus the politics

Public investment – minus the politics

By Bertrand Camus, United Water CEO  Forty years ago this month, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act to protect public health by regulating the nation’s public drinking water supply. This milestone, which helps ensure that clean, fresh water flows from every tap in America, was created by a shared sense of political vision. Today, that progress is at risk from lack of political ambition to finance infrastructure projects. Ever since November’s mid-term elections, President Obama has worked to put investment in America’s roads, bridges and water systems back on the agenda as a priority that elected officials of all stripes can naturally get behind, saying: “Both parties have been for creating jobs rebuilding our infrastructure.” Visiting China, early December, he marveled at how major construction projects happen. “One thing is that if they need to build some stuff, they can build it,” he said. America can build it, too… Read the complete article on how we can accelerate investment in water infrastructure by tapping untapped funding resources on The Hill Congress Blog:...
Smarter Water Meter Data Helps to Detect More than 800 Leaks in Bayonne, NJ

Smarter Water Meter Data Helps to Detect More than 800 Leaks in Bayonne, NJ

Water is relatively inexpensive in the context of your overall household budget. On average, the cost of water is less than a penny a gallon. That makes it all too easy to waste. Right now, in your basement or in your backyard, there’s that one spigot that won’t completely shut off. And you’re paying more for water service than you have to as a result. If that sounds familiar, you don’t live in Bayonne, NJ where United Water, has installed over 10,500 new and smarter meters for 90 percent of the city’s residents and businesses. The data from the new meters enables our dedicated customer service team to show and tell homeowners and the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority (BMUA) how much water they’re using each day. With real-time data from the new advanced meters, United Water can detect water leaks and quickly inform the customer of the need to take action to prevent a bill spike or worse – property damage that may result from a broken pipe. Meter readers no longer have to walk from door to door resulting in an increased sense of security for homeowners – and we, as a company, no longer have to inconvenience homeowners who would otherwise have to wait at home for a meter-reading appointment. Indeed Bayonne residents have already benefited from the increased information about their water consumption and underground piping that the new meters provide. “We receive regular compliments from customers about the professionalism and follow-through of our employees,” said Chris Riat, United Water senior director of contract operations. “In one instance our customer service supervisor had contacted a resident...

Infrastructure Week: Defining a new economic vision for America’s infrastructure

May 12-16 is Infrastructure Week across the United States.  Discussions among the public, private and political sector will ensue over how to collaborate among sectors that haven’t traditionally worked together; how to innovate in the face of scarce public dollars; and most of all, how to pay for the trillions of dollars of infrastructure upgrades that are needed to maintain this country’s competitive economic edge. “How to pay for it” is an age-old question.  And the good news is that healthy levels of investment may be available to cities that choose to partner with the private sector to leverage private capital. After United Water’s first SOLUTION partnership in Bayonne, NJ was launched last year, leaders and pundits alike recognized that cities actually can, unlock the value of city assets and access the kind of money that Bayonne did through a public-private partnership.  This particular model had never been tried in the U.S. before, although it has been widely used with success across the globe. In exchange for a 40-year concession with the Bayonne Municipal Utilities Authority, United Water and KKR agreed to pay off $125 million of the utility’s debt, invest nearly $110 million to modernize the system, retrain and bolster the utility’s staff, and eventually save the utility an estimated $35 million over the lifetime of the contract, based on the city’s analysis. KKR issued a recent report that demystifies the lingering questions on “how” to pay and addresses “who” would be a successful candidate for this option.  According to the authors from KKR and the Brookings Institution, there are 5 key criteria for success: “Strong candidates for successful PPPs...
United Water’s SOLUTION goes to business school

United Water’s SOLUTION goes to business school

We know that American cities and towns need to invest hundreds of billions of dollars – between $400 billion and $1 trillion to be exact – in their public water and sewer systems. And we know that investors are keen on investing in efficiently operated systems that will provide a steady return. That fact is what brought us to University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton Business School, one of the most prestigious business schools in the country, to discuss how we can collectively make more public-private partnerships work for water. Panelists at the Wharton Initiative for Global Environmental Leadership conference suggested that it is a moral imperative upon which the sustainability of cities hinges, to find ways for the public and private sector to work together in planning and financing to begin tackling the ever-widening investment and thereby sustainability gap. With water projects, as with any public initiative, public support is a key ingredient for success. Financial capital, in many cases, is more readily available than political capital. Implied in the name, the success of “public-private partnerships” depends on striking an appropriate balance between the interests of uncommon allies by providing for a return on investments while safeguarding the public interest. And the many municipal leaders who are considering a public-private partnership should expect to engage the public and various interest groups in the plan at many levels. A new model – recently used in Bayonne, NJ by United Water – emerged as a viable option for meeting the needs of both public and private partners. The architects of the SOLUTION model simply built it upon the financial and political lessons of...

A tale of two cities without water

4 “main” reasons why water mains break: Starting on December 18th, the city of Jersey City experienced a series of water main breaks that left thousands without water service during the busy holiday season.  United Water crews responded quickly and worked day and night to safely restore essential water service. Many were still advised to boil their water before using it for several days – as a precautionary measure. Fast forward a few days and drive south on I-95 and another major U.S. City – Philadelphia – experienced a disruptive burst that similarly closed schools and hospitals and disrupted traffic.  Both cities lost gallons of treated water to the broken pipes:  1 million gallons in Jersey City and 23 million gallons in Philadelphia. Enter a quick google search and during the same time period – during the cold days leading up to Christmas – other American cities altered their routines due to broken water pipes:  Albuquerque, Amarillo and Madison, to name a few. So why do water mains break and what can be done preventatively? A few reasons why pipes break: 1- Temperature, temperature, temperature: Slight changes in air or water temperature can dramatically increase stress on a pipe. Cold temperatures cause pipes to become brittle. As the ground freezes, pipes may succumb to external stress. Water temperature lags behind air temperature changes and therefore main breaks are common one-to-two days after a cold spell. 2- Proximity to construction work: If you lift the lid on busy cities, you’ll find an underground network of pipes and wires that is commensurate with the traffic above ground.  Despite appropriate precautions, contractors...