In a competitive bidding process, the Chickasha Municipal Authority severed ties with its previous contractor of 30 years to award USWUG a 5-year agreement, with a 5-year contract renewal extension clause to provide comprehensive management services for the Authority’s water and wastewater utility system. The Chickasha Utility system consists of a water treatment facility with a design capacity of 6.0 mgd. The utility’s wastewater facility also has a treatment capacity of 6.0 mgd. Drinking water quality issues, substandard equipment performance, and delayed asset maintenance were a few of the issues the utility system was experiencing at the time. The Municipal Authority’s goal was to achieve operational efficiencies, maximize cost savings, and ensure a direct pathway to accountability and remedy.
USWUG conducted a comprehensive assessment of the Authority’s utility operational practices at that time to develop and prioritize operational, financial, and regulatory necessities and goals in the form of a report called the “Statement of Existing Conditions” (SOC). In addition to addressing the current state of the utility assets and equipment, the SOC provided recommendations for corrective actions relative to deficiencies; insight into immediate and long-term needs of the Utility; and a preliminary outline for a repair/replacement program (RRP) as well as a Capital Improvement Program (CIP).
Many of the higher priority recommendations were started immediately, including re-building 8 of the 12 lift stations, replacing the two (2) high service pumps at the WTP, and replacing the media in the four (4) filtration systems. The SOC listed over 125 deficiencies. Over the last two (2) years, USWUG has corrected more than 200 deficiencies with only 12 remaining to be resolved. USWUG Specialists and our permanent Staff also worked on changing the processes relative to water treatment, which has ultimately given the City, in their words, “the best drinking water ever produced.”
USWUG has and continues to meet daily operational and regulatory requirements in a cost-effective manner. Based on the information provided by the SOC, USWUG has made significant progress on upgrades and repairs of equipment and buildings which demonstrated varying levels of previously delayed maintenance. Additionally, the Municipal Authority has fully engaged USWUG as a partner in planning, developing and executing a proposed CIP.
By repairing and upgrading the current Water Plant, the Municipal Authority will not have to invest in a new Water Plant any time soon. The previous Contractor estimated that the WTP would need to be replaced within the next five (5) to seven (7) years at a projected cost of $40,000,000.00. The Water Plant has a great infrastructure in place, so by repairing and upgrading it the Municipal Authority is able to extend the life of the asset, and need for new construction, by 25 years.
Additionally, USWUG worked closely with the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality (ODEQ) to prevent the imposition of two Consent Orders on the Municipal Authority. The first Consent Order was for ongoing TTHM and HAA5 violations prior to upgrades made during USWUG’s tenure. The Authority was proactive and implemented a chloramination system, which assisted in reducing TTHMs and HAA5s levels within compliance. USWUG Staff worked closely with Public Water Supply Engineers to demonstrate that the levels were trending downward after the implementation of new treatment technology introduced by USWUG. As a result of the operational changes, ODEQ did not enforce the Consent Order and the Authority saved a $500.00 fine. The second Consent Order was related to a malfunctioning lift station resulting in many complaints from the community residents. Based on collaborations between USWUG, the City, as well as engineering and construction contractors, the lift station was rehabilitated prior to the 90-day deadline stipulated by the second Consent Order. As a result of USWUG’s diligent work and constant communication with ODEQ, the Notice of Violation (NOV) was closed and the Consent Order was rescinded, thus, saving the Authority an additional $11,000.00 in fines.
The Authority has not had any major complaints about taste and odors for drinking water in the last two (2) years since USWUG Staff and Specialists took over the facility operations and changed how the treatment process is operated.
“USWUG is the epitome of how to operate Water and Wastewater plants and address customer service!!!” Rob Camp, Director of Public Works, City of Chickasha, Oklahoma