Case Study #4 - Easton Pennsylvania

Compliance Achieved, Consent Decree Removed

The City of Easton, PA, wastewater system serves a population of 55,000 and has peak flows over 20 MGD. A history of problems prior to U.S. Water’s management included chronic permit violations, a consent decree, controversies between the city and authority, management labor situations, two supervisors convicted of environmental crimes who were imprisoned, and being on the EPA’s blacklist for violations. For the consent order the City paid $389,000 in fines and $120,000 of the plaintiff’s legal fees.

The wastewater facility had been managed during this time by a different private contractor but its single manager had no rights of discipline. When Mayor Tom Goldsmith proposed a private company completely take over operation of Easton’s water and sewer systems in 1993, not only were some Council members concerned but the union opposed concessions they were asked to make to retain jobs. After a formal Request for Proposals, review of seven proposals, and months of negotiation, council approved U.S. Water L.L.C. as the manager of the two utilities. However, the existing labor agreement covered City workers in many departments not just the water and sewer utilities. After much negotiation and two votes, Local 447 of American Federation of State and Municipal Employees voted to amend its agreement to specifically allow U.S. Water to assume the City’s discipline rights and to work rule efficiency changes. A Council representative was present during all labor negotiations.

U.S. Water replaced the previous manager at the wastewater plant in December 1993 and assumed full operational management responsibilities under this innovative contract for both the wastewater and water systems in May of 1994.

These are the results:

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Preceding U.S. Water, the wastewater effluent exceeded its permit limit for phenol in 7 out of 12 months. Since U.S. Water’s management, there have been no phenol violations. No capital was required to achieve this.

greenball.gif (104 bytes) U.S. Water helped initiate a permit modification in conjunction with the Authority and City. A professional, cooperative relationship with the PA DER and USEPA was established.

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Consent decree dropped

greenball.gif (104 bytes) $660,000 of savings per year

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Improved safety standards

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Installed computerized maintenance management system

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Revised belt press operations

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Changed aerobic digesters into gravity thickeners

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Improved anaerobic digester performance

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Developed standard operating procedures

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Operators are now performing pH testing and routine maintenance tasks

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Initiated an electrical curtailment program

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Won a citation of merit from the PA DER

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Established an improved working relationship with AFSME

greenball.gif (104 bytes) Received accolades from the Mayor and Council. This was reported in an Easton Express Times, July 13, 1995 article. See the Mayor’s comments in Section 8.

 

Case Study - City of Easton

In the City of Easton, U.S. Water recommendations led to the replacement of polymer feed pumps and belt filter press wash pumps which resulted in increased efficiency in the sludge dewatering operation, including significantly reduced polymer costs. In addition, our recommendations to refurbish the plant’s engine generator have led to reduced electric expenditures after initiation of an electrical curtailment program at the Easton Wastewater Treatment Plant. Our capital recommendations for the Easton wastewater system have been well received, and have been adopted by the Authority’s Engineer as the basis for continued planning and preliminary design efforts for which receipt of engineering proposals will occur in the near future. U.S. Water personnel will continue to work with the Authority and their engineer throughout the design process, and any construction activities that may follow.

U.S. Water has worked extensively with the City of Easton and its consulting engineers to identify all overflows in the collection system. U.S. Water developed a monitoring and reporting program in response to the regulators concern over dry weather overflows. The sewer maintenance crews under the direction of U.S. Water work to proactively control blockages or clear obstructions that might produce overflows. U.S. Water initiated an overhaul of Easton’s pump station generators and pumps to improve efficiency and reliability during storm events. In total these activities have managed to substantially reduce dry weather overflows.

U.S. Water has a ten (10) year OM&M contract which includes a 10 MGD wastewater treatment facility. Capital upgrades undertaken at the facility during U.S. Water’s tenure have included replacement of primary sludge pumps and major rehabilitation of the primary digester. U.S. Water directed and coordinated all impacted operations to maximize plant performance, expedite construction schedules, and mitigate financial impacts of additional labor costs during construction

In addition, our recommendations to refurbish the plant’s engine generator have led to reduced electric expenditures after initiation of an electrical curtailment program at the Easton Wastewater Treatment Plant. Our capital recommendations for the Easton wastewater system have been well received, and have been adopted by the Authority’s Engineer as the basis for continued planning and preliminary design efforts for which receipt of engineering proposals will occur in the near future. U.S. Water personnel will continue to work with the Authority and their engineer throughout the design process, and any construction activities that may follow.