Many municipalities have deferred maintenance on their water and sewer systems, resulting in reduced reliability, drinking water quality concerns, inadequate fire protection, and sewer system overflows. These communities now face costly upgrades to bring their systems back to their original operating conditions. Typically, replacement and renewal projects are funded by water and sewer rate increases; however, that approach can be politically challenging and a difficult burden for residents in low-income communities. Instead of deploying this tactic, Woodard & Curran worked with Lawrence, Massachusetts to fund major capital improvements to its water and sewer infrastructure without rate increases by focusing on cost-saving and revenue-generating projects.
REDUCING OPERATING COSTS
Woodard & Curran and the City worked together to identify operational expenses that could be decreased through process improvements at the City’s water treatment facility. Treatment processes were optimized to reduce chemical and energy costs. Some of these operational improvements included changing process chemicals to less costly and more effective alternatives and altering filter backwash procedures to reduce discharge to a regional wastewater treatment facility.
We also assisted Lawrence with procurement to replace 8,500 residential, commercial, and industrial water meters and the installation of a fixed network automatic meter reading (AMR) system. This project included overseeing the installation of the meters and AMR system and integrating the meters with the City’s billing system. This has resulted in a substantial increase in water and sewer revenues.
IMPLEMENTING ENERGY EFFICIENCY PROJECTS
Woodard & Curran provided design, bidding, and construction phase services to implement energy efficiency and other improvements at the City’s water treatment plant. Inefficient water pumps and antiquated control systems were replaced, and 500kW solar panels were installed, which reduced electrical costs and provided additional revenue through the sale of Solar Renewable Energy Credits.
INVESTING IN INFRASTRUCTURE
The City decided to reinvest the savings from the operational and energy efficiencies along with the revenue generated from the new water meters in their water and sewer infrastructure. Through a combination of SRF loans with principal forgiveness, grants, and new revenue, the City of Lawrence has funded these and other critical infrastructure renewal projects, such as facilities upgrades and water and sewer main replacement and rehabilitation without increasing water and sewer rates.