News | November 12, 1997

Indianapolis Water/Wastewater Contract is Largest Public/Private Partnership Yet

United Water Services, an affiliate of United Water Resources has signed a new contract with the City of Indianapolis, Ind., to continue to manage the city's wastewater collection and treatment facilities through the White River Environmental Partnership, a joint venture of United Water Services and the Indianapolis Water Company. The WREP was awarded an extension and expansion of its existing contract. This will result in the largest and most successful public-private partnership to date in the United states. The 10-year agreement is expected to save an additional $189 million for Indianapolis.

Since the WREP took over the management of the Southport and Belmont Advanced Wastewater Treatment Plants and the collection system in 1994, the city reportedly saved more than $46 million through this arrangement. Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith said the first contract has allowed the city to make major investments in sewerage repair projects, and to produce the lowest sewer rate in the central part of the state. According to the mayor, "Six years ago, Indianapolis' sewer system was on the verge of collapse. The savings from our contract have allowed us to invest more than $90 million in rebuilding that system—without raising user fees."

Over the next few years, the city must carry out more projects to upgrade the wastewater collection and treatment facilities, and has to solve combined sewer overflow problems. The latter may require as much as $55 million. Other municipalities have funded similar undertakings by increasing taxes and user fees. Indianapolis will be able to fund these projects by applying the savings that result from the 10-year contract extension just signed with the WREP.

Indianapolis has put more than 70 governmental services up for competitive bid during the past five years. The new wastewater contract is anticipated to realize about $400 million in savings. And commenting on the earlier contract, Mayor Goldsmith said the city has been able to invest in a program called Building Better Neighborhoods -- the largest infrastructure improvement project in city history -- and a larger police force. He also said: "The water leaving the (treatment) plant is as clean as ever, employee wages are up and grievances are down, and taxpayers enjoy strong sewers and low rates. Because of competition, we are getting more out of every tax dollar, cutting costs and improving quality to produce more value for our customers -- the taxpayers of Indianapolis."

United Water Resources, with headquarters in Harrington Park, N.J., is a holding company whose subsidiaries are engaged in water-related businesses and real estate. As the nation's second largest investor-owned water services company, United Water provides water/wastewater services to about 5 million people in 19 states. It has a number of subsidiaries, including United Water New Jersey, United Waterworks, and United Water New York.

Also involved in the partnership is Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux of Paris, France. Lyonnaise American Holding has a 28 percent interest in United Water Resources. The French company is involved in energy, water and wastewater, waste management and communications, and is a world leader in water management and treatment technology. The company has a presence in around 120 countries and provides water/wastewater services to over 70 million people. Suez Lyonnaise des Eaux was formed in June of 1997 when Lyonnaise des Eaux absorbed Compagnie de Suez. The merger produced a company with annual revenues of $40 billion.