Water utility leaders discussing business model in Cincy this week

Jul 16, 2013

Hundreds of water and sewer utility managers from the across the country are in Cincinnati this week.  They're here for the National Association of Clean Water Agencies 2013 summer conference.  
Some topics being discussed include innovative management, financing and a more resilient business model for public utilities.

Greater Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District Executive Director Tony Parrott said the industry is experiencing a rebirth.

“The water paradigm in the United States is changing to adapt to increasing regulatory pressures and requirements, skyrocketing capital expenses and also the weather variability and reductions in water use that we’re seeing across our communities,” Parrott said.

Parrott said in the last 6 years water usage in Cincinnati has declined about 16 percent per active account.  That reduction has cost the utility about $15 million in revenue.  At the same time expenses to treat water and waste water continue to escalate.  

The goal of the conference is to teach utility managers best practices to reduce costs and use partnerships to keep water and sewer rates low.

“Because as we take on this new debt in the future, we have to find other ways that are going to keep rates lower than they would be otherwise,” Parrott said.  “And also to keep service at a level to where we are sustaining our communities and providing revitalization and sustainability in the communities that we serve.”

Cincinnati is partnering with Alexandria, Virginia to provide billing services for that community.  MSD officials also traveled to Milwaukee to learn about that city's green infrastructure program and reducing storm water runoff before it ever hits a treatment plant.  

The 3-day Cincinnati conference concludes Wednesday.