Bart Peterson

Outstanding Achievement Award
The City of Indianapolis and United Water
The White River Environmental Partnership

As in many American cities, Indianapolisís aging water infrastructure threatened to lead to substantial sewer rate hikes to allow for new capital outlays. Instead of following through with a forecasted 33% rate hike in 1993, the City turned to the private sector for an alternative approach. The alternative approach resulted in the City of Indianapolis contracting with the White River Environmental Partnership (WREP) to operate its wastewater treatment facilities beginning in 1994. The WREP partnership includes United Water Services, IWC Resources, and Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux. In 1996, the City broadened the WREP contract to include the maintenance and operation of its wastewater collection system.

WREP has achieved considerable cost savings. Despite inflation, Indianapolis residents pay no more in sewer usage rates today than they did in 1985, and the City has saved $78 million over the first five years of the project that have been directed to capital improvements and other pressing needs. Overall, costs to the municipality have been 40% lower than under city operation. At the same time that there have been considerable cost savings, environmental compliance also has improved. WREP has reduced effluent violations by over 50%, and the facilities consistently earn Gold Awards from the Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies.

A further welcome benefit has been in the area of employee relations. Here, contract grievances have declined 98% and employee accidents by 91%. In the meantime, 2,824 hours of employee training have been provided. Recently, an independent auditor found that WREP employees currently receive overall compensation between 9% and 28% greater than their city counterparts.

WREP committed from the beginning to "giving back to the community". Per its contract with the City, WREP donates 5% of pre-tax profits to charitable and cultural organizations. In addition, it holds bimonthly roundtable meetings of environmental and neighborhood groups, participates in an adopt-a-school program, and conducts facility tours for the public. Finally, to support the community economically, WREP purchases 19% of its supplies from minority-owned firms, well above the 12% level mandated by its contract.

The WREP/Indianapolis partnership has exceeded its initial goals on four important fronts: employee satisfaction; cost savings; environmental compliance; and community development. In October of 1997, the City of Indianapolis and WREP announced a 10-year extension its contract.

For more information, please contact:

Lou Ann Baker, Communications Manager
United Water
2700 South Belmont Avenue
Indianapolis, IN 46221
Telephone: (317) 639-7011
Fax: (317) 639-7600

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The United States Conference of Mayors

J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
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Telephone (202) 293-7330, FAX (202) 293-2352

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