Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) Receives Key Benchmarking and Performance Data following Peer Review from Utility Experts at Veolia North America

Best-practices review included top-down evaluation and review of data and performance

BOSTON, August 18, 2016 - The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC), currently among the largest water and wastewater utilities in the nation, hired Veolia to conduct a peer review of its operations. As part of the company’s Peer Performance Solutions (PPS) business model, Veolia and local minority business enterprise Juggernaut Consulting provided an independent review of WSSC’s efficiency and effectiveness compared to industry peers and similar privately-operated systems.
To complete its assessment, Veolia’s and Juggernaut’s technical, process and performance experts identified current and relevant metrics and best practices, and then compared those with similar, high-performing peer utilities. The team also reviewed operational factors outside of the utility’s control that may affect performance, such as system age or regulatory requirements to assist in explaining performance differences between it and other utilities. The peer assessment examined seven functional areas within WSSC, including: water treatment, wastewater treatment, customer service, utility (field) services, fleet, capital planning and asset management, and procurement.
The company performed a top-down evaluation of each of the seven functional areas using data collection, evaluation and validation, personal interviews, and scoring against defined industry and internal Veolia standards. WSSC’s request of Veolia also included reviews of services provided to customers, operational and capital financial management, key drivers in revenue requirements and cost drivers, and current staffing levels.
The findings:
The final report provides WSSC leadership a snapshot of performance:
  • Staffing levels are generally below median for similar utilities
  • The age distribution of WSSC’s staff is heavily skewed in favor of older workers, reflecting a much lower workforce turnover rate than industry average
  • With respect to the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and Water Environment Federation (WEF) QualServe Best Practices, the Commission is performing better above the median when compared to all water and sewer utilities and about the same as the median for large utilities serving population of greater than 500,000
  • In aggregate, the Commission exceeds industry median in six of 10 Effective Utility Management (EUM) attributes
  • The Commission’s finances are performing very well but carries an above-median debt per capita
  • The Commission’s overall cost of service is reasonable and for most customers, monthly bills are affordable
Veolia completed and delivered its final report to the Commission in June 2016 and it outlined key opportunities for improvement in Customer Service, Fleet and Asset Management, as well as a potential timeline and an assessment of the overall impact the improvements will have on WSSC’s performance.
The partnership is part of Veolia’s Peer Performance Solutions model, enabling public water utilities to benchmark against other leading utilities while preserving public governance and a public workforce that benefits from specialized private-sector expertise. Similar efforts are underway in Winnipeg, New York City, Akron, Ohio, Los Angeles and Cleveland.
The WSSC serves approximately 1.8 million residents across 1,000 square miles in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties in Maryland.