Relying Heavily on Design-Build-Operate Model
Seattle Public Utilities Receives Gold Award for Achievement
Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) has received a Gold Award for Competitiveness
Achievement from the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), a nonprofit
organization of the nation's largest publicly owned water systems.
"The public's drinking water expectations for safe water and low-cost service are
exceedingly high, and the AMWA Gold Award winners have met and exceeded those
expectations," said AMWA Executive Director Diane VanDe Hei. "Their exceptional
management practices achieve high performance in spite of challenges not faced by private
water companies, including civil service and procurement laws...."
SPU was among the AMWA's 20 Gold Award-winning water agencies for 2001. Among a number
of positive factors, the judges cited SPU for the following accomplishments:
- Innovative approaches to facility development and alternative approaches to drinking
water treatment saved SPU $70 million on the Tolt Treatment Plant by using
design-build-operate (DBO), an estimated $150 million on the Cedar Treatment facility by
moving to ozonation and ultra-violet technologies and a DBO approach, and approximately
$100 million through more strategic approaches to reservoir covering and replacement.
- An aggressive water conservation program that reduced per capita use by more than 20
percent over the past two decades.
- All SPU services now have performance measures based on desired end results, and
performance results are reported to the utility director quarterly and discussed with
management leaders to assure feedback and performance results are synchronized.
- An integrated Utility Call Center was created to provide seamless customer service
related to any customer inquiries related to water, solid waste, drainage, wastewater and
- An enhanced Capital Improvement Program (CIP) included redesigned support systems,
development of standards and new processes, and increased annual capital completion from
around 55 percent to 100 percent. This capital completion rate was accomplished for three
years in a row, while the size of the CIP doubled from roughly $50 million in the early
1990s to more than $100 million in recent years. In addition, SPU has maintained Aa2 and
AA bond ratings.
"We are very proud to be among the foremost utilities in the
country on the leading edge of efficient management practices and business strategy
development, said Diana Gale, SPU managing director. "It's an honor for Seattle to be
recognized and for our regional water customers to know that they are benefiting from the
attention to efficiency and effectiveness in the management of such an important