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Above: Regular maintenance of the city's distribution system includes the flushing of fire hydrants. Right: The entire system is monitored and managed in the control room at the Indianapolis water system. Photos: Veolia Water
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The White River is one of Indianapolis Water's primary sources.
Supporting Growth and O&M

Indianapolis's private partner has consistently identified critical capital projects in the capital plan and has achieved both incentives in this category each year.

“One of the highlights of the public-private partnership so far is that we've been able to balance the needs to support growth and the needs to support the operations and maintenance capability of the system very well,” said Curry. “We have complied with water demand. In addition, the fact that we've been able to amicably resolve any differences is a tribute to the management schemes of both the department and Veolia."

Waterworks Board member Beulah Coughenour brings a dual perspective to the capital improvements program. Before joining the board, Coughenour was a member of the Indianapolis city-county council for 28 years and voted for the city to acquire the waterworks system.

"When selecting a firm to run our waterworks system, none of the other vendors made the same kind of offer on the incentives. They must achieve 100% or they do not receive the incentive," said Coughenour. "One of the things that made it very attractive were these conditions of accountability. An arrangement like this puts the service provider on the line, which is what you want. I'm happy with the way our public-private partnership is progressing in the delivery of capital projects. It's highly creative and has proven to be a good way to go, because a big priority for us is keeping our water system up-to-date. And what can be more important than water?"

Gadis is vice president and chief operating officer for Veolia Water Indianapolis.

Waterworks projects get an edge

The Indianapolis Department of Waterworks has made the shift from federal to local funding, which is increasingly important so municipalities can get the most from existing funds.

"As part of our management agreement with the city, we have important incentive criteria regarding capital projects—specifically, getting these projects completed when we say we will, and not exceeding costs outlined in the capital plan," said Chuck Voltz, regional manager for Veolia Water Indianapolis. "And, not only must we strive to produce the lowest capital cost project in a timely fashion, we also take life-cycle costs into consideration to allow for the use of quality equipment and materials designed to help ensure long-term value to the city."

To help accomplish this, Veolia Water is using value engineering as well as the design-build approach to project delivery. With design-build, a single entity is responsible for providing both the design and construction of the project.

"The design-build approach is typically more cost-effective and less susceptible to delays than projects procured through more traditional approaches," said Voltz. The private partner brought a local firm, Bowen Engineering Corp., on board to work on design-build projects, which are primarily above-ground work.

"Value engineering is also performed on virtually all of our capital projects to ensure life-cycle costs are taken into account," said Voltz. "We not only do this at the beginning of a project, but through the project's entire duration."

These project management methods are paying off for Indianapolis. "Based on the nearly 90 projects we have closed since January 2004, we have returned about $1 million to the city," said Voltz.