Water exec visits Hill, highlights privatization success

TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. — The president and chief executive officer of American Water, Inc., recently visited Hill Air Force Base to highlight the company’s role in the base’s water and wastewater system privatization.

Susan N. Story met with Col. Ronald Jolly, 75th Air Base Wing commander, and visited the American Water contractors responsible for upgrading, operating and maintaining the base’s water and wastewater systems.

American Water, the largest publicly traded U.S. water and wastewater utility company, was awarded the $288 million utilities privatization contract January 2014 with a 50-year period of performance that started Sept. 1. As part of the agreement, American Water not only owns the systems, which were wholly conveyed to the company by the Air Force, but is also responsible for upgrading them to current industry standards.

“Maintaining utility systems is no longer a core competency of the Air Force,” said Steven A. Wolpert, contracted utilities privatization manager at Air Force Materiel Command. “Utilities privatization allows military installations to obtain safe utility systems that meet current industry standards.”

American Water plans to invest approximately $3.6 million in its first three contract years to support the upgrade effort.

“The first-year efforts include a major upgrade to one of our wells, as well as other replacements and infrastructure improvements,” said Mark Persico, primary contracting officer representative for the contract. “Over the next two to three months, projects include work on three sewage lift stations, 1,900 linear feet of sewer line, 13 pressure-reducing valves and replacement of 10 fire hydrants.”

In addition to utilities infrastructure modernization, UP garners substantial cost savings for the Air Force.

“Private industry does this type of work day in and day out,” said Rick Weston, UP program manager at the Air Force Civil Engineer Center. “They can normally do it cheaper than we can.”

The 1998 Defense Reform Initiative Directive 49 mandates all U.S. military installations privatize their utilities systems where feasible and economically viable. Since then, the Air Force has been in the process of privatizing most of the utility systems on its bases in the continental United States. Over the past 16 years, 66 systems have been privatized, amounting to a $3.6 billion value and a cost avoidance of $511 million for the Air Force.

To learn more about the Air Force utilities privatization program, visit the AFCEC UP page at www.afcec.af.mil/energy/utilitiesprivatization/index.asp.

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