Burlingame, California

The challenge

Since 1972, the nation's first and longest-running public-private partnership for municipal wastewater services has chalked up numerous awards, contract extensions, and millions of dollars in savings for residents.

The project challenges are:

  • A range of operational and compliance problems at Burlingame's wastewater treatment plant embarrassed city officials, who turned to Veolia North America in 1972.

  • Under its groundbreaking operate/maintain/manage (O&M) contract, Veolia assumed responsibility for the city's wastewater treatment facilities that currently include a 5.5-MGD activated sludge treatment plant, a lift station, landfill gas collection and treatment, a stormwater pollution prevention program, 475-dtpy biosolids land application and new co-generation power system. The partnership remains strong today.

The solution

Innovative solutions:

  • Implement focused O&M approaches and process control programs.

  • Assign a core group of experienced supervisors to solve the plant's problems.

  • Work closely with the city and its design engineer on a plant expansion to maintain effluent quality and control costs.

  • Manage and support $25 million in capital improvements over the decades-long partnership.

  • Provide design review and oversight for multi-million dollars in capital improvements.

  • ​Partner with city and energy provider to deliver a new co-generation power system that creates electricity onsite by using methane gas naturally produced by the wastewater treatment process.

Benefits for our clients


  • Received consistent contract renewals over the four-decade partnership.

  • Reduced plant power costs approximately $100,000 annually through cogeneration of electricity.

  • Garnered Outstanding Achievement Award from the U.S. Conference of Mayors and National Council for Public-Private Partnership's award.

  • Recognized with Safety-Program-of-the-Year Award from California Water Environment Association.

  • Won Small Plant Safety Award for seven consecutive years.

  • Earned Plant Safety Award from California Water Environment Association and George W. Burke, Jr. Facility Safety Award from Water Environment Association — numerous times.

  • ​Recipient of the Operating Excellence, First Place for Best Small Municipal Project in 2011.