Best Practices 1999

Innovative City/Business Partnerships

Gary, Indiana Mayor Scott King

Outstanding Achievement Award

The City of Gary and United Water Services

White River Environmental Partnership

A public/private partnership secured by Gary Mayor Scott King is applying some of the world's best resources to the operation and maintenance of his City's wastewater treatment facility. It is also meeting economic development goals, addressing environmental concerns and reducing costs to Gary's residents.

On June 1, 1998, the White River Environmental Partnership (WREP), a partnership of United Water Services and IWC Resources, entered into a 10-year, $95 million agreement with the Gary Sanitary District (GSD) to operate and maintain the City's 60-million-gallon-per-day wastewater treatment facility and its sewer system — facilities serving a customer base which includes 120,000 residents of Gary and surrounding communities. The wastewater treatment facility is located on Lake Michigan, within sight of downtown Chicago.

The partnership guarantees GSD at least $20 million in savings over the 10-year contract period. On September 3, as a condition of the contract, WREP presented a check for $10 million to the GSD Board, which is headed by Otho Lyles III and Mayor King. These funds, representing half of the savings guaranteed by the partnership, are being used to jumpstart infrastructure improvements within the system.

Thanks in part to the savings generated by this contract, the GSD has formulated a $65 million plan for system improvements extending over the next 25 years. WREP will play an integral role in the implementation of these improvements, which Mayor King believes are imperative for Gary's economic growth. AYou can talk all you want about bringing in new businesses,@ says the Mayor, Abut if they can't hook up to a new sewer line, the business does not get built.@

One of the innovative aspects of the new partnership involves labor relations. The President of Local 3491 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), Willie Wallace, and its members partnered with WREP in responding to Gary's request for proposal. As part of the partnership agreement, the union members ratified a contract guaranteeing no layoffs in the next 10 years and increased training and career development.

In summary, the public-private partnership spearheaded by the Mayor is providing a range of benefits for all involved:

The White River Environmental Partnership brings together IWC Resources, United Water Services and Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux. IWC Resources, headquartered in Indianapolis, is a subsidiary of NIPSCO Industries, Inc., a holding company based in Merrillville, Indiana, whose primary business interests are utility- and energy-related. United Water Services, headquartered in Harrington Park, New Jersey, is a joint venture of United Water Resources, the nation's second largest investor-owned water services firm, and Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux, a leader in environmental infrastructure services throughout the world.

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
1620 Eye Street, NW, Washington, DC 20006
Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352

Copyright 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.