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A Public Water Utility Workshop on Affordability

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The compounding challenges of aging water infrastructure systems, climate change, and the general rising cost of living put cities and water utilities in a major financial dilemma: increase rates to update infrastructure and price out ratepayers, or keep rates static at the expense of aging and failing infrastructure.  

 

The workshop, in partnership with the Water Center at Penn and Detroit Water and Sewerage Department, will bring together water utility leaders across the Great Lakes region.
The goal is to arm utility leaders with resources needed to help create efficient, affordable, and sustainable water entities that have positive relationships with the constituents they serve.

Deadline to register: Friday, March 20

Eligibility

This workshop is intended for senior municipal water leaders or relevant senior city staff in the Great Lakes, and by invitation only. Please note that we can only accomodate one representative per water utility or city - please discuss with staff first to confirm the best representative before registering. Contact Matthew Braunginn for more information or to request an invite.

 

Required Preparation

We ask all invitees to come prepared for a highly interactive workshop. Please complete the pre-workshop checklist by March 20th. The purpose of the checklist is to have attendees come prepared with the information and materials needed to develop an affordability plan that will work for their community and to ensure a meaningful discussion. The information collected will only be shared within the Mayors Innovation Project, the Water Center, and workshop facilitators. We are happy to discuss and accommodate any confidentiality concerns, and we will assist workshop attendees in collecting this information. 
To complete the checklist, use the Google Form. We recommend reviewing the PDF version of the checklist ahead of time.
Check out our latest brief, “Setting the Agenda: A Mayors' Guide to Water Affordability,” to learn more about water affordability in cities.

 

On the Agenda

This highly interactive and engaging workshop will connect municipal leaders with experts in efforts to create a clear path forward in designing a water affordability program. The program will aim to work within the context of the municipal water infrastructure needs, finances, and demographics. To help achieve this goal, we will consider three focus areas:
  • Rates & Customer programs
  • Community Engagement & Communications
  • Operational Efficiencies​

 

Speakers

We're honored to announce that the following experts will be joining us to lead the workshop:
Kishia Powell, Commissioner, Department of Watershed Management, City of Atlanta, GA

Kishia L. Powell was appointed to serve as Commissioner of the City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management in June 2016. With expertise in sustainable infrastructure management and utility operations, she has leveraged 22 years of experience in both the public and private sectors to successfully serve municipalities across the United States and London, England. As Commissioner, she is responsible for oversight of the Department’s $644M annual operating budget, a five-year capital improvement plan of $1.26B including the Water Supply Program and the Clean Water Atlanta consent decree program. Since her appointment she has worked to set the strategic direction of Watershed Management with a focus on financial resilience, improving service delivery, infrastructure investment, and workforce development including a partnership with the City of Atlanta’s Department of Corrections to reduce recidivism by hiring pre-release non-violent offenders as Watershed Trainees. 

George Hawkins, Esq., Former General Manager, DC Water

George Hawkins launched his innovation-focused enterprises Moonshot LLC and Moonshot Missions after stepping down as CEO and General Manager of DC Water, where he served for eleven years.  George helps agencies identify and adopt strategies to deliver better service and lower cost. George transformed DC Water into an innovative enterprise while tripling its investment in clean water.  DC Water’s innovations ranged from Green Infrastructure to a $500 million investment in clean energy.  DC Water issued the first century bond, first environmental impact bond, and spearheaded programs to support low income customers. George serves on the National Infrastructure Advisory Council, which advises the White House. George serves on the Boards of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation and the US Water Alliance.  George has served as a Senior Lecturer at Princeton University and an Executive in Residence for American University. Mr. Hawkins also served as Director of the DC Department of the Environment and also served as Director of non-profit organizations and held positions with the USEPA and the firm Ropes & Gray.

Andrew Kricun, Senior Advisor, The Water Center at Penn

Andrew Kricun is a Senior Utility Advisor with Moonshot Missions, a non-profit focused on providing technical assistance to water utilities in underserved communities. He is also a Senior Fellow with the US Water Alliance working on their national water equity initiative. He is also working with the Water Center at the University of Pennsylvania on various projects related to the Delaware River watershed. Prior to that, he served as Executive Director and Chief Engineer of the Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority, operators of an 80 million gallon per day wastewater treatment plant in Camden, NJ. He has 35 years of wastewater and biosolids management experience.  

Mr. Kricun served on the New Jersey Environmental Justice Advisory Council and also served on the board of the National Association of Clean Water Agencies and as the chair of its Utility of the Future committee and the Environmental Justice committee. He was the recipient of the Praxis Award for Professional Ethics, the President's Award from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, the One Water Prize from the US Water Alliance and Environmental Quality Awards from the United States Environmental Protection Agency

Joanne Dahme, Former Deputy Commissioner, Philadelphia Water

Joanne most recently served as the Philadelphia Water Department's Deputy Commissioner for Communications and Engagement (DCCE) since 2009 and was responsible for developing and implementing strategies that enhanced PWD’s image, services and engagement with its customers, all residents, elected officials, media and key stakeholders. Joanne directed the planning, development and implementation of programs designed to inform and serve water, wastewater and stormwater customers and the public and to increase the PWD’s credibility and accessibility. Joanne convened and facilitated a variety of internal and external committees and task forces that served to improve internal and public facing communications with the goals of improving customer service and engagement, improving policies that impact the department’s customers and ensuring that the PWD meets its environmental obligations under regulatory requirements in the areas of partner collaborations and public engagement.

Thursday, April 2
2:00 - 3:00pm
Check-In
3:00 - 3:30pm
Welcome & Introductions
3:30 - 5:30pm
Module 1
Attendees will be divided up into 3 groups. Each group will rotate and visit one module during each of the 3 module times:
Topic 1) Rates & Customer programs: Work with experts to determine the financial health of your utility, potential water rate options that fit best for your city, and the infrastructure needs of the utility. The goal will be to put together a rate that has an eye towards affordability while also building complimentary Customer Assistance Programs. Facilitated by the Water Center at Penn.
Topic 2) Community Engagement & Communications: How do you exchange knowledge about your water system with your community? Are you able to contact your key community leaders and engage with them on ways to better connect to the residents that need assistance the most? Are you trusted by your community to provide quality service and information? This session will help you identify current relationships with your community, and help you walk away with the best path forward to improve engagement.
Topic 3) Operational efficiencies: This section will explore options through technology, data use and management, and investments (such as lights, efficiency pumps, and more) that reduce operational costs. Facilitated by the Water Center at Penn.
5:30 - 6:00pm
Break
6:00 - 7:00pm
Reception
7:00 - 8:30pm
Dinner

Friday, April 3
8:00 - 8:30am
Breakfast
8:30 - 10:30am
Module 2
10:30 - 10:45am
Break
10:45 - 11:45am
Utility Case Study
11:45 - 12:30pm
Lunch
12:30 - 2:30pm
Module 3
2:30 - 3:00pm
Next Steps & Closing Remarks


Thursday, April 2 - Friday, April 3
The Detroit Center, Grand Valley State University, 163 Madison Street, Detroit, MI
Deadline to Register: Friday, March 20
 

Eligibility

We invite one water utility leader or senior city policy staff per water system in the Great Lakes region. A limited number of spots are available - please register as soon as possible. Not sure if you qualify? Please contact us.

 

Registration

Registration is free for invited and eligible guests. Deadline to register is Friday, March 20.

 

Support

Travel & hotel support may be available on a first-come, first-served basis. Please contact Matthew Braunginn to learn more.

 

Hotel

A room block has been reserved at the Hilton Garden Inn at a rate of $136/night plus tax. Please contact Michelle Bright to book. The hotel is a 0.2 mile walk to the meeting.

 

Required Preparation

We ask all invitees to come prepared for a highly interactive workshop. Please complete the pre-workshop checklist by March 13th. The purpose of the checklist is to have attendees come prepared with the information and materials needed to develop an affordability plan that will work for their community and to ensure a meaningful discussion. The information collected will only be shared within the Mayors Innovation Project, the Water Center, and workshop facilitators. We are happy to discuss and accommodate any confidentiality concerns, and we will assist workshop attendees in collecting this information. 
To complete the checklist, use the Google Form. We recommend reviewing the PDF version of the checklist ahead of time.