DMWW sets water rates to adequately fund operation and infrastructure investments to ensure high quality water to our customers. Even though water consumption has declined, the utility has experienced rising costs. DMWW pays all of its operating expenses but is not collecting sufficient revenue to pay for the needed infrastructure improvements. Instead of taking on debt to invest in improvements, a water rate increase has been approved to help bring revenues in line with costs.
Costs increased 8% in 2009 due to treatment chemicals, system maintenance labor and materials, lime softening residuals disposal and employee benefits. Staffing levels vary little in periods of reduced consumption. Our treatment facilities and distribution system must be maintained regardless of the amount of water consumed.
DMWW has a constant focus on containing costs. Recent efforts to reduce costs include:
- The addition of two treatment plants, one in 2000 and one later this year, resulted in only one staff addition
- Customer pre-termination calls that have reduced field service collection cuts by 25%, thereby allowing field service staff to focus on other areas like more frequent testing of large meters
- E-Statements to reduce the cost of billing
- Automated processing of bills, thereby eliminating a nightly IT operator position
- A work-from-home program for customer service resulting in handling more calls/account activity per customer representative
- Coordinated with Polk County on a joint asphalt project that saved us $150,000
- Reduction of senior management by 20%
- A 0% salary increase to DMWW management team and professionals in 2010
- Successful application for over $5 million in FEMA funding for riverbank repairs to protect our treatment plant collector well system