Sustainability at WaterOne
Sustainability means making sure that WaterOne can meet the needs of today, without doing harm to future generations. WaterOne's triple bottom line approach to sustainability includes making decisions that are economically feasible, environmentally responsible, and socially desirable.
AMWA Sustainable Water Utility Management Award
WaterOne is proud to have been honored with the Sustainable Water Utility Management Award by the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), an organization of the largest publicly owned water utilities in the United States. AMWA awards spotlight the exceptional advances of public drinking water utilities that lead the nation toward sustainability through innovative management practices, executive leadership and employee commitment.
The Sustainable Water Utility Management award recognizes WaterOne for its commitment to sustainable management, and signifies that the organization has achieved a balance of innovative and successful efforts in areas of economic, social, and environmental endeavors. In receiving the award, WaterOne was recognized for its performance in responsible management of resources, protection of public health, meeting community responsibilities, and providing cost effective services to ratepayers.
Sustainability in Action
From our day-to-day operations to our long-term planning, sustainability is a leading priority. Here's a few examples of what that looks like at WaterOne.
- Protecting Source Waters: WaterOne is dedicated to protecting our source waters, the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, to ensure safe, delicious tap water in Johnson County for generations to come. This includes leadership and initiatives such as:
- Missouri River-Bed Degradation Study
- Milford Lake Regional Conservation Partnership Project (RCPP)
- 50-year Vision for water sustainability in Kansas
- Kansas River Water Assurance district
- Missouri River Recovery Implementation Committee (MRRIC)
- Energy: WaterOne is always looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint. Over the past decade, we've invested in multiple initiatives that allow us to produce the same high-quality water with less power consumption. This reduction in energy use saves the environment and ratepayer dollars by lowering our total production costs. Some of these efforts include:
- Power Management Program - Aquadapt
- 60% of the power for pumping stations is wind energy
- 1500 licensed solar panels from BPU
- Natural gas power generators at Wolcott
- Ozone water disinfectant (uses less power) (also economically sustainable)
- Reducing Water Consumption: WaterOne recognizes the impact that water shortages have had on communities across the country. Although we are lucky to have two potable water sources supplying our residents with delicious water, we are mindful of our total consumption. A few ways we monitor and minimize water usage are:
- Annual Meter Testing Program
- Leak Detection Tech (Advanced Metering Infrastructure)
- Average use over time is declining
- Greenhouse Gas Inventory: WaterOne has been recognized as Climate Registered™ Gold Status by The Climate Registry, a non-profit organization that administers North America's largest registry for greenhouse gas emissions. The award acknowledges efforts by WaterOne to better understand its carbon footprint by establishing an inventory of carbon emission volumes and sources produced through its operations. In achieving Gold Status, The Climate Registry has certified that WaterOne has publicly reported a greenhouse gas emission inventory which has been verified by a third-party. Data from the inventory will be used to assist in establishing future sustainability benchmarks for WaterOne.
- Ensuring Affordability: Water is essential for life. With this in mind, WaterOne strives to make sure our top-tier water services are affordable for all our residents. Some strategies we use to keep water accessible for everyone include:
- Smoothed, Predictable Rate Increases
- 20th percentile household income approach to set prices
- Block rate pricing
- Public Outreach: WaterOne considers it a high priority to maintain a relationship with the residents in our service area. As a utility with a publicly elected board, the ratepayers have the right to understand and influence their water service. Some ways we continuously engage our consumers and support our values include:
- Positive media relations
- Social media presence
- Quarterly Satisfaction surveys
- Periodic focus groups
- I Love Tap Brand with reusable water bottles
- School Outreach
- Quench Buggy and Bar
- Tower2Tower 5K fundraiser for Water for People
- Partnerships with other social causes
- Sponsored employee service days
WaterOne’s Tower2Tower 5K has raised thousands of dollars for Water For People, an international non-profit that works to bring clean drinking water to communities that need it the most.
- AAA Bond Rating: WaterOne uses responsible borrowing practices to ensure that we can grow and develop, while maintaining the ability to pay for our everyday expenses. The bond rating "AAA" indicates that we are a trustworthy organization, making our interest rates lower, which means we save money along with our rate payers
- Proactive Asset Management Plan: WaterOne uses a proactive asset management plan to track and maintain our physical infrastructure. Having accurate estimations on useful life and plans for asset maintenance over time allows us to plan for continuous water service with minimal main breaks to keep our delicious water consistently flowing in our service area
- Business Owner Concept: The management team at WaterOne subscribes to something we call the business owner concept. This means that if we would not make a purchase or investment with our own personal money, we will not make this purchase with our rate payer money. This financial awareness allows us to prioritize the needs of our ratepayers and make smart investment decisions that will benefit the organization and all of our residents in the short and long run
The most expensive kind of maintenance is waiting for something to break first. Through Asset Management, WaterOne can optimize the funding and timeline for replacing critical infrastructure and equipment, as well as reduce costly disruption and delays.