United Water to Manage Infrastructure and Better Protect our Environment through Improved Operations – $233 Million in Guaranteed Savings
To better safeguard the environment, strengthen the quality of life in surrounding communities, improve facilities management and save taxpayers a minimum of $233.1 million,Nassau County Executive Edward P. Mangano today announced a public-private partnership with United Water – a national firm responsible for the safe and efficient operation of municipal water and wastewater systems across the United States – to manage and operate the County’s three wastewater treatment facilities and sewage system.
County Executive Mangano stated, “This partnership was formed to dramatically improve the County’s ability to protect our environment and the health and well-being of our residents. Together with United Water, we will implement unprecedented advances in environmental protection, odor control, management efficiencies, plant aesthetics and public information. Furthermore, this effort permits a more effective and efficient management of the plants and sewage system following the Federal government’s significant investment in storm hardening of our infrastructure.”
Mr. Bertrand Camus, Chief Executive Officer of United Water, said, “In municipalities across the country our firm has been entrusted with one of the most important assets of any community: its water supplies and sanitary sewage system. Every day we treat billions of gallons of water and we do it safely and effectively while bringing operational savings to the taxpayer. We intend to bring that record of performance to one of the most important suburban counties in the nation.”
County Executive Mangano noted, “The list of benefits provide an appreciation of just how strategic this agreement is for Nassau County. From nitrogen removal to protecting our marshlands, from establishing a new public park near one of the facilities to improving our ability to recover from future storms, we have the means of making these plants more environmentally friendly, more efficient and better stewards of our environment. Some of the benefits will be obvious to everyone, other improvements will be noticeable only to neighbors and still other improvements will be hidden behind technology and environmental metrics. Nevertheless, all residents and future generations will benefit regardless of where we live in Nassau County.”
Terms, Responsibilities and Savings
Under a 20year agreement, United Water is tasked with managing the County’s three treatment plants and sewage collection system: Bay Park in East Rockawaythat serves some 532,000 residents; Cedar Creek in Wantagh that serves 600,000 residents; and Glen Cove that serves 27,000 residents. Nassau County will maintain full ownership of the facilities while providing far greater environmental leadership and operational transparency.
United Water is responsible for the plants aroundthe clock with attention paid to not only managing their internal operations in a manner that protects the ecology of the surrounding wetlands and estuaries butthat alsomeets or surpassesthestrict Federal and State regulations for these types of facilities.
United Water will make it a priority to staff their County assignment with current County employees who are knowledgeable about the unique aspects of these facilities. During the transitional phase, the company will seek to permanently hire qualified County employees to work for United Water and thereby become part of the private sector. United Water also committed to utilize certain County sewer employees through its contract, at a guaranteed minimum of $10 million savings annually for Nassau taxpayers. These employees will remain with the County but will work with United Water to help improve the environmental efficiency of the wastewater and sewage systems.
The PFM Group, a Wall Street based financial consulting firm hired by Nassau to independently review the proposed agreement, found “On a present value basis this represents savings over the term of the contract of $233.1 million. When the additional financial benefits of the Synergy Savings– reduced overtime, County resumption of contracted services, and additional revenues resulting from personnel reassignments – are considered, the combined Contracted and Synergy Savings over the 20-year term rise to…$378.9 million.”
Immediate Implementation of Program
Mr. Camus stated that the United Water task is much more than simply assuming daily management of the three facilities and the sewage collection system, but implementing programs that United Water will immediately initiate to resolve significant major deficiencies. “We are prepared on ‘Day One’ to protect the public’s investment in these treatment plants by creating reliable systems that confront a myriad of significant issues.”
County oversight will be very much a part of the agreement with United Water providing written reports detailing operation and maintenance of the various systems on a monthly basis. The two parties will meet regularly to review operations and performance with County officials performing an inspection every year.
Every fifth year, there will be a full-scale inspection and review of the state of repair, working condition and performance capability of the three plants to permit the County to determine on a comprehensive and focused basis whether United Water is performing maintenance and meeting its obligations.
Support and Endorsements
The announcement was supported by a broad range of community and environmental advocacy groups including Operation SPLASH, the Point Lookout Civic Association, the Nature Conservancy on Long Island, Concerned Citizens for the Environment, Sludge Stoppers Taskforce and the New York League of Conservation Voters.
Rob Weltner, President of Operation SPLASH, stated, “Knowing there is a direct connection between the performance of Nassau County’s sewage treatment plants and the water quality of our bays and beaches means water treatment is something we need to be the absolute best at. We believe United Water will help us to achieve this goal by bringing worldwide experience and new technologies to our wastewater plants so that the residents and the sea life get what is deserved and that is the absolute best.”
Carl P. Lobue of the Nature Conservancy on Long Island observed, “Above all else, the Bay Park facility needs to be overhauled to reflect modern needs and technology. Clean water in the western bays depends on a modern, well-run facility with an ocean outfall to keep nitrogen pollution out of the local water. The choice of United Water as the manager of this facility is reason to hope for better water management outcomes for the western bays going forward.”
Michael Posillico, Board member and past Chairman of the Long Island chapter of the New York League of Conservation Voters, observed, “The County’s wastewater treatment infrastructure requires the immediate establishment of a comprehensive plan to maintain and exceed environmental compliance and protect the public’s health. This announcement places us on the road to recovery and operations efficiencies.”
The Association for a Better Long Island (ABLI), which represents $15 billion in commercial, industrial, retail and residential real estate, called the announcement, “a demonstration of smart government committed to reducing the cost of essential services by allowing private industry to do what it does best.” ABLI’s Executive Director Desmond Ryan said, “We look forward to the official transfer of the plant’s operations to United Water as it will provide a model for every municipality seeking to reduce its tax burden while protecting the environment.”
Ms. Adrienne Esposito, Executive Director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE), stated, “CCE fully supports the hiring of an established and highly experienced, qualified, professional contractor, specializing in wastewater treatment management. We believe this is an essential component for cleaner bays, estuaries and our ocean. It has become exceedingly clear the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant (STP), Cedar Creek and the Glen Cove STP must be operated by a management and engineering firm possessing a proven history of successfully operating and implementing advanced wastewater technology.”
“The re-engineering of the Bay Park STP provides a unique opportunity to employ modern treatment technologies that will improve the quality of its effluent; abate plant noise and odor in the adjacent communities; and recover and/or utilize waste resources. A professional, experienced contractor can ensure that these efforts are maximized. An experienced contractor brings global resources, technology and knowledge that cannot be found in the County. We believe a professional contractor, with community and County oversight, is the best safeguard for protecting public health, our groundwater and our waterways,” Esposito concluded.
Strength of United Water
United Water, based in Harrington Park, NJ, is one of the nation’s leading environmental companies, providing water and wastewater services to over 5.3 million people in the United States. In addition to owning and operating 16 water and wastewater utilities, United Water operates 84 municipal and industrial water and wastewater systems through innovative public-private partnerships and contract agreements. Founded in 1869, United Water provides water and wastewater services to nearly 2.5 million people in the New York metropolitan area and has access to more than 1,100 infrastructure professionals to support this region in the event of emergencies with additional manpower reserves located across the country.
Its parent company, Suez Environment, deals with the challenge of protecting resources by providing innovative solutions to millions of people. The company supplies drinking water to 92 million people, provides wastewater treatment services for 65 million people and collects the waste produced by 52 million people. Suez Environment employs 79,550 workers and, with its presence on five continents, is a world leader exclusively dedicated to water and waste management services.
Mr. Camus concluded, “We are now a proud, long-term partner with Nassau County, bringing accountability, guaranteed performance milestones, efficiencies and operational reliability so that we may save taxpayer dollars, protect the environment and improve the surrounding community’s quality of life.”