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Atlanta-Fulton County Water Resources Commission and Veolia Water North America

2006 NCPPP Service Award Winner
Project Location: Alpharetta, GA
Public Sector Partner: Atlanta – Fulton County Water Resources Commission
Contact Name: Kathy Crews, 678.942.2790, kcrews@afcwrc.com
Private Sector Partner: Veolia Water North America
Contact Name: Christie Kaluza, 281.985.5481, christie.kaluza@veoliawaterna.com

Project Summary
In November 1990, Veolia Water (then Environmental Operating Services) and Khafra Engineering, in a 50/50 joint venture, entered into a public-private partnership with the Atlanta-Fulton County Water Resources Commission (AFCWRC) to provide startup and operations assistance services at the new Atlanta-Fulton County Water Treatment facility. The raw-water pumping station, raw-water main and the treatment plant owned by the AFCWRC supply drinking water to more than 500,000 people in the Fulton County and northern Atlanta. The partnership has been renewed three times, most recently in early 2006, and today, Veolia Water and Khafra operate and maintain the 90-MGD facility. The general manager of the AFCWRC works on site at the plant and is “hands on” in the day-to-day operations, making this a true, working public-private partnership.

Over the course of more than 15 years, the Veolia Water/Khafra team has provided quality services, delivered significant costs savings and assisted in the plant capacity expansion from 30 MGD to 90-MGD without one change order. The team’s innovative approaches have allowed for a continuous profitable operation. For example, the Veolia Water/Khafra team implemented a pilot program enabling the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) to approve increasing rated flow capacity from 30 to 45 MGD without any capital expenditures. Subsequent efforts increased capacity to 56 MGD. The demand for potable water then became so great that the AFCWRC upgraded the plant to 90 MGD and has been running at this flow capacity since May 1998.

The public-private partnership has also generated significant cost savings for the public entity. A reduction in production costs, combined with the tremendous increase in finished water production, enabled the AFCWRC to realize more than $2.5 million in savings during the plant expansion from 30 to 90 MGD! In addition, with the latest contract renewal, Veolia Water/Khafra proposed even greater substantial annual savings by further reducing power, chemical and overall operations costs.

Another benefit of this partnership has been an outstanding record of safety and quality. The Veolia Water/Khafra team has received more than 50 operations, safety and staff awards from organizations such as the Georgia Water and Pollution Control Association (GW&PCA) and the U.S. EPA Region IV – many of which were won during plant expansions. Additionally, the partnership has been recommended for the OSHA Star Award, a prestigious mark never won by a municipal water treatment facility. Additionally, being a good corporate citizen is the cornerstone of the existence of Veolia Water and Khafra Engineering. The team has been a contributor of financial and time resources to numerous worthy Atlanta metropolitan causes throughout the partnership. Additionally, they have provided speakers, lecturers or conducted seminars for all metropolitan schools and colleges and have provided internships to local and national students.

Yet another partnership benefit has been value-added services at no additional cost to the AFCWRC. In addition to providing operations and maintenance services, Veolia Water/Khafra, at no extra cost, has provided solutions for dam erosion control; developed and maintained a Web site that promotes the AFCWRC, touts the plant capabilities and provides an educational forum; and implemented a pilot test program with the EPD and EPA for microfiltration treatment of backwash water.

The successful partnership between the AFCWRC and Veolia Water/Khafra indicates how public and private entities can develop long, mutually beneficial relationships that include high-quality service, no change orders and award-winning operations.

Several factors make this partnership original and unique.

  • The ability to significantly reduce costs while tripling the size of the facility without change orders is a strong indicator of on-site innovation and originality.
  • More than 30 percent of the vendors/contractors provided by the Veolia Water/Khafra team are equal business opportunity (EBO) suppliers. Due to the city of Atlanta and Fulton-County’s strong commitment to minority business enterprise programs, Veolia Water teamed with Khafra back in 1990 to create a long-lasting partnership. When the partnership was renewed this year, a woman-owned business was brought into the Veolia Water/Khafra team to satisfy the commission’s 34 percent EBO requirement.
  • Not only is this a public-private partnership, it is a partnership between a city and county. Seven members (three from the city, three from the county and one independent) manage the AFCWRC that has been vital to the success of the partnership.
  • The final aspect for originality is the fact that the facility owner (AFCWRC) and operator (Veolia Water/Khafra) work closely onsite. This is rare and unique because in a partnership such as this, typically the facility owner is off site and not “hands on” in the day-to-day operations.

Veolia Water/Khafra is justifiably proud of its implemented and ongoing safety and quality program. After 15 years, the plant has an impeccable safety record, boasts profitable operations and has received more than 50 operations, safety, and staff awards from the GW&PCA and the U.S. EPA Region IV, including:

  • Operator of the Year for District 3 (twice)
  • Best Operated Plant in Georgia – Greater than 15 MGD by the GW&PCA (six times)
  • Safe Drinking Water Excellence Award from U.S. EPA Region IV
  • Best Tasting Water in Georgia and Water Taste Challenge Award (four recognitions)

Most notable is the partnership’s recent nomination for the OSHA Star Award. This award recognizes exemplary occupational safety and health and marks the first time a municipal water treatment plant has ever been recognized.

The initial permitted capacity of the water treatment plant was 30 MGD. After evaluation of the process, EPD approved increasing the permitted capacity to 45 MGD. During Spring 1994, facility water demands reached more than 40 MGD. The AFCWRC asked the EPD to approve a permitted capacity of 56 MGD for withdrawal and treatment. After reviewing past operational performance data, the EPD changed the permits (withdrawal and treatment) to allow for 56 MGD without any additional capital expansion requirements. Veolia Water/Khafra’s operational expertise played a key role in the EPDs decision to increase the permit at this critical time in the growth of North Fulton County. Phase II construction saw the plant capacity expand to 90 MGD and was completed in early 1998. Summer 1998 marked the beginning of plant operation and maintenance at the full 90 MGD production.

With the partnership renewal of 2006, the Veolia/Khafra team continues to implement and expand on a proven maintenance program that focuses on predictive and preventive maintenance. The program minimizes corrective maintenance occurrences and ensures dependable and reliable treatment and delivery of potable water.

The partnership has yielded the AFCWRC more than $16 million in savings by reducing the per-unit cost of water and maximizing on the team’s operational expertise and economies of scale. For example, Veolia Water/Khafra decreased the unit cost per 1,000 gallons from $34/1,000 gallons in 1994 to $29 in 1998. In May 1999, that cost dropped below $.20/1000 gallons. Today, the unit cost continues to be below the $37/1,000 gallon set by AFCWRC nearly 15 years ago. Additionally, the team monitors the Georgia Power projections of rates for the ensuing day to implement a water process control plan that utilizes the cheapest power options available. Finally, the team offers, at no cost, capital management to the AFCWRC. This activity generally would cost 10 percent of the capital cost.

Public-Private Partnership
This is a true public-private partnership in the sense that the facility is wholly owned by the AFCWRC andoperated and maintained by the Veolia Water/Khafra joint venture. Veolia Water is part of Veolia Water North America Operating Services,the leading global provider of municipal and industrial and water and wastewater treatment systems, products and services. Khafra Engineering Consultants, Inc., is a privately owned, registered minority business enterprise with the city of Atlanta and Fulton County that provides extensive consulting services for municipal and industrial clients and has completed myriad environmental engineering projects for both the city of Atlanta and Fulton County.

The JV Team’s financial contributions have exceeded more than $200,00 during our 15-year tenure.

Partnership Snapshot

  • Operation of a 90-MGD surface water treatment facility – one of the nation’s largest drinking water plants
  • Exceptional tasting water (U.S. EPA Regional Water Taste Test Winner recognitions)
  • Excellent safety record
  • Savings of approximately $16 million over the last 10 years
  • 50-time award winner