2008 NCPPP Innovation Service Award Winner
Project Location: Gresham, Oregon
Public Sector Partner: City of Gresham, Oregon
Contact Name: Guy Graham, Manager of Wastewater Services Division, firstname.lastname@example.org
Private Sector Partner: Veolia Water North America
Contact Name: Shilen Patel, Marketing Communications Manager, email@example.com
Built in 1936 as a WPA project, the Gresham Wastewater Treatment Plant has been contractually-managed and operated since 1980. The plant serves 106,000 people living within the City of Gresham and in surrounding suburbs.
Nearing the conclusion of the plant’s then-current contract, Gresham staff evaluated the contractor’s performance and the future needs of the City in 2004. Under consideration was plant efficiency, asset management and the EPA’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit requirements.
After competitively bidding the project in 2004, the City chose Veolia Water for its innovative proposal and ability to provide technologically-advanced asset management. Further advancing the City’s green initiatives was Veolia Water’s addition of a cogeneration power plant, which converts byproduct greenhouse gas (methane) into energy to power the treatment plant.
Asset management was an important factor for the City as it considered proposals for the operation and management of the treatment plant. Veolia Water offered an advanced asset management system able to interface with all other Veolia Water-managed treatment plants. The system allows Veolia Water to benchmark the Gresham plant’s performance to evaluate its efficiency. Ability to obtain compliance with the City’s NPDES permit, which regulates point sources of water pollution, also affected the City’s decision.
The public sector partner is the City of Gresham, Oregon. Located approximately 16 miles east of Portland, Gresham is the second largest city in the metropolitan area and the fourth largest city in the state. The City has experienced rapid growth over the past twenty years and has changed from a rural, farming community to a burgeoning urban area. Its population increased by 10 percent to 100,000 between 2001 and 2008. The City provides typical municipal services and is the seventh city in Oregon and the fourteenth city in the country to be designated by the EPA as a Green Power Community.
The private sector partner is Veolia Water North America. The firm is the leading provider of comprehensive water and wastewater services to municipal and industrial customers. It provides services including the design, construction and operation of water and wastewater treatment facilities and systems. Veolia Water North America was awarded the Gresham wastewater contract in 2005.
Implementation Environment–Legislative and Administrative
Private contracting is permitted under Chapter 279A of the Oregon Revised Statues in order to meet the goal of promoting “efficient use of state and local government resources, maximizing the economic investment in public contracting” (Ore. Rev. Statutes, ch. 297A, § 015 ). Pursuant to the Gresham Revised Code, all contracting activities are conducted pursuant to Oregon statues and administrative rules.
The seven-year contract approved by the City Council includes a payment of $21 million to Veolia Water for the management and operation of the treatment plant. Veolia Water’s improvements to the plant have saved the City $18,000 to $20,000 per month in utility payments.
Those served by the plant, including Gresham residents and those living in surrounding communities, pay a flat fee of $24.09 per month for wastewater services (March 2009 rate). In June 2008, the City Council passed an ordinance increasing wastewater rates by $0.95 per month throughout 2009. This rate is still one of the lowest in Oregon.
Approved in 2005, the contract has a seven-year term and includes the management and operation of a pre-existing wastewater treatment plant serving 106,000 people. The contract was expanded to include the development and long-term planning of a cogeneration power system.
Veolia’s contract with the City includes the following conditions: 1) operation and management of a 20 million gallons per day treatment plant; 2) management of a beneficial bio-solids program; 3) analysis of the industrial pretreatment program; 4) operation of a cogeneration plant; 5) provision of laboratory services; and 6) operation of nine lift stations.
The addition of a cogeneration plant has significantly reduced energy consumption at the wastewater facility. Wastewater treatment facilities typically spend one third of their budgets on energy costs, so the use of methane as energy has saved the City a substantial amount of money.
Asset management has improved since Veolia Water took over the facility in 2005. The firm’s ability to access records from its other wastewater treatment facilities has increased productivity based on those industry standards. Accidents have also been reduced. Cameras have been installed around the plant to reduce labor requirements and enhance response to chemical feed issues. Maintenance schedules have changed from a reactive to a proactive approach: repairs and preventative maintenance have been prioritized, and this prioritization will lower capital maintenance and replacement costs between 15 and 25 percent over the life of the contract.
Veolia Water’s experience in asset management and performance benchmarking has lead to the success of this public-private partnership. Its innovative preventative maintenance scheduling has increased overall efficiency. The cogeneration plant is able to produce enough energy that utility bills have decreased by almost $20,000 per month. Compliance with NPDES is at 99.8 percent. Through the partnership, the City of Gresham has continued to be one of Oregon’s few Green Power Communities.