Auburn, Alabama

The challenge

One of longest-running public-private partnerships involving wastewater treatment facilities.

The project challenges are:

  • Auburn needed to quickly obtain new or upgraded wastewater treatment facilities to replace inadequate systems.

  • In 1984, the city signed a pioneering privatization agreement with a Veolia North America predecessor company.

  • This was followed by a long-term operations, maintenance and management (O&M) agreement that continues to today.

  • Veolia operates two separate wastewater systems: a 9-MGD treatment facility on the southside that incorporates post-aeration and seasonal nitrification using fine-bubble diffusers, and a 1.6-MGD treatment plant on the northside that uses a carousel (surface aerator) diffusing process.

The solution

Innovative solutions:

  • Develop and implement a plan for the transition from public- to private-sector management.

  • Create O&M manual and emergency response plan.

  • Fine-tune the equipment and processes to bring the system to its highest level of performance; tested and proved effective during record-breaking rainfall in 1994.

  • Establish an anoxic zone in the activated sludge process to eliminate the need for lime, which reduced costs and improved the nitrification/dentrification process.

  • Identify and resolve toxicity issue at southside facility.

  • Upgrade southside facility to 9 MGD.

  • Provide learning experience for civil engineering students and University of Auburn.

  • Make financial contribution for new three-acre park, playground and picnic area.

  • Provide financial and volunteer support for City of Auburn Junior High School Science Olympiad team.

Benefits for our clients


  • Saved millions of dollars over the life of the contract.

  • Lower user fees and reduced administrative burden on the city.

  • ​Reduced time for the development of the Auburn facilities; original design/build/operate/finance agreement completed in just 14 months versus the five years it would have taken under traditional public funding.