Kingswood, Texas, wastewater operations contract saves budget money for capital improvements

A long-term public-private partnership between the city of Houston and Severn Trent allowed the city to proceed with capital improvements without having to issue bonds.

Feb. 27, 2003 -- A long-term public-private partnership between the city of Houston and Severn Trent allowed the city to proceed with capital improvements without having to issue bonds.

The contract involved the operation of three sludge plants, a collection system, and seven groundwater plants and the associated distribution system for about 81,000 residents in the Kingswood area near Houston.

The wastewater treatment plant has three activated sludge units:
- 6.6 MGD
- 1.13 MGD
- 0.95 MGD

Severn Trent was also responsible for the maintenance of 33 miles of wastewater collection lines, the operation of 38 wastewater pumping stations and the operation of seven water treatment plants and five elevated storage tanks.

The contract began in 1974 with the utility district, and in 1996 with Houston following the annexation of Kingswood. The partnership has been expanded and the contract was extended for five years in 2002.

The reduction of operating costs during the contract period allowed Houston to proceed with capital improvements without the issuance of bonds.

Background
Severn Trent began operations of the Kingwood water and wastewater system in the mid- 1970s as Am-Tex Corporation, initially operating four of the five utility districts in the Kingwood area.

The district had experienced operational problems and was looking for a company that could assist them in correcting those issues. At that time, there were two wastewater treatment facilities (1 MGD total capacity), two groundwater treatment facilities, and approximately 60 miles of water distribution and wastewater collection lines.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, the scope of Severn Trent's Kingwood operations expanded. In 1996, Houston annexed the area and entered into a three-year operation and maintenance (O&M) contract with Severn Trent for the Kingwood area facilities. In 2001, the operation had grown to include a 6.6 MGD wastewater plant, 27 lift stations, three water treatment facilities, and four elevated storage tanks servicing approximately 65,000 residents.

After exercising two one-year options on the initial three-year contract, the City expanded the scope of the project to also include facilities in the Forest Cove area and the Municipal Utility District 48. Severn Trent was awarded a five-year contract in 2002 and currently services approximately 81,000 residents under the new contract conditions.

Results
As an indication of the quality of Severn Trent's operation of the Kingwood facilities, Houston has not taken over these operations since annexation, and in fact, the City has recently added additional facilities to the contract.

OPERATIONAL EFFECTIVENESS - In 1996, as a result of outside assistance in the planned expansion of the wastewater treatment plant, the City reduced their annual operating expense by 20 percent from their original budget. In 2001, the system was evaluated by Severn Trent's Mobile Analytical Trailer, which verified that the system was operating efficiently.

ENVIRONMENTAL COMPLIANCE - There have not been any citations for environmental regulatory violations during this partnership.

COMMUNITY RELATIONS - Severn Trent has a track record of investing in the local community and has awarded over $2.2 million in contracted work to minority/women business enterprises.

This case study was provided by the Water Partnership Council. To learn more, visit : http://www.waterpartnership.org/.

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