Water & Water Supply

CORE VALUES, VISION, MISSION STATEMENT AND GOALS

The Department of Water and Water Supply emphasizes three primary Core Values; Safety, Customer Service and Professionalism. If we focus on these three core values and execute our duties and responsibilities, the Department will be in the best position to serve our customers, work safely and promote teamwork.  

Our Vision Statement is: We are a $38 million business enterprise with over 30,000 customers. We are stewards of one of the most valuable surface water sources in the Northeast

Mission Statement – The Department of Water and Water Supply will deliver a reliable and high quality supply of water to our customers, including fire protection; we will collect and safely convey wastewater to treatment facilities and comply with all of our regulatory permit requirements and conditions; we will provide a safe work environment for our employees; we will provide courteous, responsive and professional service to our customers and a work environment that is supportive and respectful of each other.

Goals – high level
  • We will supply water to our customers with 100% reliability (quality and quantity)
  • We will maintain our system and plan future improvements to our system to keep 100% of the sanitary sewage “in the pipes”
  • We will train our staff and operate our facilities to achieve 100% compliance with all regulatory permit conditions and requirements
  • We will emphasize safety training and workplace performance and behaviors to strive for no missed work days resulting from work place injuries
  • We will invest as stewards to protect and preserve the long-term functionality of our infrastructure, including creating a detailed inventory of fixed assets to be updated annually to account for new and rehabilitated assets
  • We will invest and incorporate technology to increase operational efficiency (e.g. leak detection)
  • We will implement performance based metrics aligned with department goals and track as key performance indicators
  • We will administer the City of Albany MS4 program (Municipal Separated Storm Sewer Systems) to protect natural watercourses from pollution.
  • We will respond to flooding problems, including assisting the City of Albany with the maintenance and repair of drainage systems, review of new projects in regard to grading and runoff, and review of flood risks and mitigation.
  • We will undertake planning for future water, sewer and storm water infrastructure needs for new development in the City of Albany.
The Department uses a series of performance measures that we call Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) that are measured and tracked. They are identified as follows:

Key Performance Indicators
  • Water/Sewer Revenue
  • Operating Expenses
  • Net Operating Cash Flow
  • Net Cash Flow (after Debt Service and Capital Project expenses)
  • Water Produced
  • Water Sold
  • Unaccounted Water Produced
  • Overtime (by Unit)
  • Orions Installed (meter conversion program)
  • Incident Reports
  • Water/Sewer Line Breaks & Repairs
  • Preventive Maintenance statistics
  • Locations (provided to contractors and outside utilities)
  • Wastewater Discharges to Albany County Sewer District
Note: The Department is performing a review and assessment of our key performance indicators to assure we are aligning what we measure with what we seek to accomplish. We will complete this process and identify any changes to our KPI’s in our 2016 reporting.

2015 Accomplishments– Department of Water and Water Supply
Safety – The Department established an employee driven Safety Committee (Safety Excellence Team - SET). The SET recommended and the Albany Water Board adopted a Safety Philosophy and an Employee Health & Safety Pledge. We have established Job Site Safety Plans for our standard work tasks and also for special projects. We implemented Task Safety analyses and Department wide documentation and tracking of Safety Training. We implemented Department wide Confined Space Entry training.

Reduce Unaccounted for Water – The Department is approaching 100% metering in calendar year 2015.

Implement new software with Customer Service Portal – The Department has engaged in start-up implementation associated with the new Enterprise Resource Planning software system, including a new utility billing program module.

Compliance with Consent Order & Long Term Control Plan – The Department has met all milestone dates associated with the Consent Order to abate Combined Sewer Overflows; notably the construction of the Quail St. Green Infrastructure demonstration project in 2015. The Department has also executed the Intermunicipal Agreement with the Albany Pool Communities and holds Board positions on both the IMA Board and the Local Development Corporation Board. The Department has also initiated work tasks associated with the Preliminary Design Report for the Big “C” Control facility.

Conduct Flood Assessment and establish Strategies for Flood Mitigation – after the August 2014 major storm event, the Department met with Community groups and established 2015-2016 priority projects for flood mitigation. In 2015, the Department will have completed design development for flood mitigation projects for the Hansen/Ryckman neighborhood and Elberon Place, and the projects will go out to bid for construction in 2016. The Department also is continuing to conduct additional flood assessment activities to identify the next phase of design development for flood mitigation projects.

Additional Accomplishments – completed Filtration Plant masonry repairs and roof replacement


2016 GOALS & STRATEGIES – DEPARTMENT OF WATER AND WATER SUPPLY
GOALS
  • Safety – reduce job-related incident reports and job related injuries; metric is Total Incidence Rate (TIR), and Total Recordable Incidence Rate (TRIR).  
  • Budget Objective – reduce expenses from reduction in Workers Compensation Claims, and lost time that necessitates overtime when staff work double shifts to cover the position that is out on leave.
  • Protection of the Water Supply – provide appropriate level of security - including physical barriers, access control, intrusion detection and response; provide staff resources and financial investment to manage our watershed properties to optimize water quality and ensure long-term environmental protection and sustainability.
  • Budget Objective – budget staff levels and investment to maintain a “Best Management Practices” philosophy.
  • Reduce Unaccounted for Water – increase leak detection program and upgrade treatment facility meters to accurately determine unaccounted for water.
  • Budget Objective – invest in staffing and equipment that will decrease unaccounted for water that does not generate revenue. This will result in lower throughput at the water treatment plant, resulting in lower chemical use and provide an increase in reserve capacity. The increase in reserve capacity will provide a foundation to seek additional revenue sources thru “outside” water sales.
  • Continue Compliance with Consent Order and Long Term Control Plan implementation schedule.
  • Budget Objective – Compliance with the Consent Order and the Long Term Control Plan implementation schedule will avoid statutory financial penalties. Budget Investment in elements of the LTCP will reduce the frequency of our sewer backups and assist our flood mitigation efforts that are the source of financial claims against the City. These investments will also improve “quality of life” issues for our residents.
  • Increase Preventive Maintenance on Water and Sewer Infrastructure.
  • Budget Objective – As an outgrowth of our asset management program, we will invest in additional staff and equipment to increase preventive maintenance of our water and sewer infrastructure. The emphasis on preventive maintenance will help us identify and assign priorities for repairs and/or phased replacement based both on the risk of failure and the consequences of a failure of the asset. The objective will be more accurate forecasting of future repair and replacement budget expenses, and a reduction in emergency repairs.
  • Participate in Formulation of Hazard Mitigation Plan, and identify Flood Mitigation Projects.
  • Budget Objective – Select Flood Mitigation projects that will have the greatest benefit based on FEMA flood risk assessment models. This will result in a reduction in claims against the City, a reduction in out of pocket costs for residents that have been impacted by flooding, and will promote new private financial investment in neighborhoods that have had a history of flooding.
  • Implement New ERP Software.
  • Budget Objective – implementation of the new Business Management software is intended to promote efficiency and allow a digital platform for the Department to process electronic transaction for water/sewer bills and payments.

STRATEGIES
SAFETY
  • Working with AWD Safety Excellence Team (SET), develop a safety awareness and training program for all staff
  • Communicate and Reinforce the AWD’s Health and Safety Policy
  • Ask Employees to execute the AWD Employee Health and Safety Pledge
  • Conduct SET review of all Incidents to establish root cause and mitigation 

PROTECTION OF THE WATER SUPPLY
  • Collaborate with Albany Police Department on performing an updated vulnerability assessment of critical AWD properties/facilities
  • Centralize AWD security management and facility monitoring at 10 N Enterprise Dr.
  • Upgrade security monitoring and optimize use of remote monitoring and staffing
  • Review  physical constraints, access control, intrusion detection and response at critical facilities
  • Perform and document engineering assessments at all AWB Dams; install piezometers where beneficial; assure all dam embankments are kept clear of unwanted vegetation.
  • Increase monitoring of Alcove and Basic Creek watershed to ensure best management practices are followed for erosion and sediment control and agricultural land use to minimize potential for Blue-Green algae and Harmful Algal Blooms (HAB’s).
UNACCOUNTED FOR WATER
  • Increase meter reading frequency to establish a more accurate water balance (produced versus consumed)
  • Improve leak detection program using better equipment and more training for staff in leak detection methods
  • Identify and deploy a crew dedicated to leak detection
  • Upgrade meters at the Feura Bush Water Treatment Plant for increased accuracy
LONG TERM CONTROL PLAN & CONSENT ORDER COMPLIANCE
  • Work with AWB Consulting Engineer to develop our Asset Management Program and Plan
  • Hire a GIS Mapping Specialist and develop accurate and updated digital mapping of all Water and Sewer Infrastructure
  • Continue Capital Projects Outlined in Consent Order
  • Participation in LTCP Intermunicipal Agreement and Local Development Corporation Boards of Directors
  • PREVENTIVE MAINTENANCE
  • Develop and implement a formal Sewer Preventive Maintenance Schedule based on history of past maintenance and repairs 
  • Upgrade water and sewer system maps - begin a program to replace existing mapping with new mapping using modern location techniques and geographic information systems. 
  • Renovate the Feura Bush Filtration Plant – continue rehabilitation of the buildings, replace chemical feed systems, relocate and upgrade the control room.
  • Valve Replacement - replace or install new valves to facilitate isolation and repair of transmission mains.
  • Purchase additional excavator equipment to conduct more in-house repairs to reduce contractor expenses
  • Purchase an additional vac-jet truck to increase sewer cleaning frequency
  • Increase sewer staffing and utilization of the camera truck; deploy a crew(s) dedicated to camera inspection of sewer lines on the evening shift
FLOOD RISK ASSESSMENT & FLOOD MITIGATION
  • Complete H&H model of the Beaver Creek Sewershed
  • Work with NYSOGS and U Albany to collaborate on land use and opportunities to reduce stormwater from their properties
  • Construct Elberon Place and Hansen/Ryckman Sewer Improvement and Flood Mitigation Projects
  • Establish Flood Mitigation capital projects for 2017-2019
NEW ERP SOFTWARE
  • Collaborate with Other City Departments to ensure successful implementation of new enterprise software
  • Implement new billing software.

2016 BUDGET CONSIDERATIONS & HIGHLIGHTS
  • The AWD Rate Consultant has recommended no rate increase for the upcoming year. Water rates in Albany are established by the Albany Water Board and the current rate schedule adopted in September 2012 will not be changed for the AWD calendar year 2016 budget. An average residential water bill, based on about 70,000 gallons usage per year, is about $253, not including sewer charges. 
  • We are planning increases in infrastructure repair, replacement and renovation expenses over the next 3-5 years; we have grown from a 2014 infrastructure budget of $2 million to $3 million in 2015 and plan additional ramp up in 2016-2018
  • We are planning to invest at least $1 million in new equipment and vehicles over the next 3 years
  • We are planning to add 10 FTE positions in 2016 and 4 FTE positions in 2017.
  • In 2016, the Department of Water & Water Supply will provide oversight and management support to the City Engineering Department. This presents a unique opportunity to collaborate and integrate our collective engineering staff capabilities to provide more efficient utilization of our technical and professional resources.

ORGANIZATION AND STAFFING
The Department of Water and Water Supply is in the active implementation phase of the Albany Pool Communities Long Term Control Plan (LTCP) for mitigation of Combined Sewer Overflows. The Department has initiated an asset management program to address the challenges associated with aging sewers and increased incidences of flooding associated with more frequent major precipitation events experienced in the past few years, and the need to update our water filtration plant, last addressed in 1991. To address the engineering and project management needed to implement the LTCP, develop an asset management program for our water and sewer infrastructure, and address the necessary planning and engineering associated with flood migration, the Department has developed an organization and staffing plan that will provide the necessary professional and technical skills and experience to meet the challenges that we presently face and that lie ahead. In the 2016 budget, we continue to build capacity to address increasing emphasis on preventive maintenance; to meet the City’s responsibilities outlined in the LTCP; tasks outlined in the Consent Order with the NYSDEC, and planning design upgrades to the water and sewer systems. Strategically, the Department is positioning to do more professional and technical planning and design work internally. Currently, both the Commissioner and Deputy Commissioner are licensed NYS Professional Engineers, with additional licensed Professional Engineers on staff.

SEWER MAINTENANCE & BW8130 PUMPING STATIONS
The Sewer Maintenance Unit is responsible for the operation and maintenance of the sewer collection system and storm drainage system, consisting of over 900 miles of sanitary, storm and combined sewers, and more than 8,000 manholes and catch basins. Approximately 31,000 service laterals are connected to the system. All wastewater is conveyed to the Albany County Sewer District for treatment and discharge to the Hudson River. The Pumping Station Unit is responsible for the operation and maintenance of 26 wastewater pumping stations.

We are continuing to expand the preventive maintenance program for our sewer system. 
In 2015, we completed:
  • 125,305 feet (22.2 miles) of mainline sewer jetting
  • 15,227 feet (2.28 miles) of mainline sewer root cutting
  • 7,713 feet (1.34 miles) of mainline sewer camera investigation
  • 66 Manhole repairs
  • 157 catch basin repairs
  • 205 Combined sewer system Catch Basins cleaned
  • 51 MS4 Catch Basins cleaned
  • 2,140 lineal feet of sewer (12”- 24” diameter) were lined
In 2016, we will increase the utilization of our camera truck and expand the camera investigation of our mainline sewers by the addition of new full time staff included in the 2016 staffing budget. We plan to purchase an additional sewer jet/vac truck to increase our preventive maintenance program and ensure we are maintaining the capacity of our sewers.

BW8320 SOURCE OF SUPPLY, POWER AND PUMPING
The Source of Water Supply, Power and Pumping Unit is responsible for the operation and maintenance of our water supply reservoirs, and over 43,965 feet of 48-inch conduits that carry raw water from the Alcove Reservoir to the Feura Bush Filtration Plant, and 58,375 feet of 48-inch conduits, that supply treated water from the Filter Plant to the transmission/distribution system and to the Loudonville Reservoir storage basins. The source of supply for the Albany Water System consists of two surface water supply reservoirs:  the Alcove and Basic Creek Reservoirs each situated in the Helderberg Mountains, approximately 20 miles southwest of the City. The Alcove is the primary supply reservoir and contains up to 13.5 billion gallons of water with a surface area of 1,436 acres (2.24 square miles), and is located in the Town of Coeymans. The Basic Creek Reservoir normally contains 716 million gallons of water with a surface area of 265 acres (0.414 square miles), and is located in the 
Town of Westerlo. This Unit provides security, inspections and water shed management to protect the water supply sources from contamination.  In 2015, we completed the installation of new and expanded security cameras at the Loudonville Reservoir, and initiated a comprehensive management plan to promote sustainable landscape practices to protect high water quality.

PURIFICATION
The Purification Unit is responsible for the operation and maintenance of The Feura Bush Water Filtration Plant, the Loudonville Reservoir System which stores approximately 212 million gallons of treated water, and the Pine Bush Water Pumping Station, including the Pine Bush Water Storage Tank. The Water Filtration Plant is located in the Town of Bethlehem, with a design capacity of 32 million gallons of per day (MGD). The plant was constructed and placed into operation in 1932, and received a minor upgrade in 1991. The plant is currently producing an annual average of approximately 20 MGD. The plant has a New York State certified laboratory co-located within the plant to test chemical and bacteriological parameters in accordance with parameters established by NYS Department of Health, and to provide analytical information to assist the Operators to provide the best possible water quality to our customers. 

We completed a roof replacement and concrete/masonry restoration project in late 2015. We are assessing additional unit operation and unit process improvements in the upcoming capital planning program.

TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION
The Unit is responsible for the operation and maintenance, repairs and reconstruction associated with over 400 miles of pipes ranging from 4-inches to 48-inches in diameter, over 3,000 hydrants and 8,700 valves, and performs surface restoration associated with repair activity. The distribution system is the oldest part of the water system, with mains constructed as early as 1851 still in use. Approximately 56 miles of the distribution system was placed in service prior to 1900. 

In 2016, we will continue our preventive maintenance and leak detection programs using additional leak detection equipment purchased and deployed in 2015.  This program includes systematic leak detection in our distribution system, testing valves and hydrants; replacement of hydrants and valves that do not meet our specifications.  In 2015, our leak detection program tested 640 city blocks, and 28 Leaks were detected. 

In 2015, our Transmission and Distribution staff repaired:
  • 67 water main breaks
  • 78 service repairs outside curb box
  • performed 26 valve repairs/replacements
  • replaced 17 hydrants 
  • terminated 48 services
Our metering staff installed 4,675 Orion meters in 2015, and our goal is to have all Orion meters installed by the end of 2016. 

In 2015, our Restoration Division staff has completed:
  • 69 lawn restorations
  • 73 concrete pours (sidewalk panels)
  • 24 driveway restorations (asphalt)
  • 140 road patches (asphalt)
WATER AND SEWER CAPITAL EXPENDITURES
Funds in this account are targeted for studies, design and construction of infrastructure improvements to the City’s water and sewer systems. Projects are identified and endorsed by the Albany Water Board and Albany Municipal Finance Authority.

The 2015 Budget contained a $3,000,000 capital expense for sewer line and water main replacement or rehabilitation, and improvements to our Sewage Pump Stations, Water Treatment Plant and appurtenant facilities. We are invested $4 million expenses in this category in 2015.

Notable among our Capital projects in 2015 was the construction of the Quail Street Green Infrastructure Demonstration Project, roof replacement and masonry repairs at the Feura Bush Water Treatment Plant, improvements at the Pine Bush Water Pump Station, expenses associated with our Asset Management Plan, and planning and design expenses for the Hansen and Ryckman Drainage Projects, the Elberon Place drainage project. We also are completing a project for lining of our Combined Sewers as part of an ongoing annual program to rehabilitate selected portions of our combined sewer system.

In order to properly maintain and upgrade aging water and sewer systems, an aggressive capital project plan is essential.  Since 1994, we have expended over $49 million in capital improvements to our water and sewer systems from our operating budget.  Although this may seem like a tremendous amount of money, it pales in comparison to the actual needs of our water and sewer systems, whose replacement value exceeds $3 billion.    

Our level of capital investment from our operating budget will be sustained at a budgeted $3,000,000 in 2016 to continue efforts to improve our infrastructure and our 2016 budget includes continuing efforts to develop a formal asset management program and strategy for future infrastructure management, rehabilitation and replacement.  The 2016 capital plan for our Water infrastructure includes improvements at the Feura Bush filtration facility, the Alcove and Loudonville Reservoir, and various water distribution system improvements. The 2016 capital plan for Sewer infrastructure includes sewer lining and rehabilitation projects, along with pump station and various sewer system improvements, including stormwater management.

Flood Mitigation – The severe flooding experienced in the City in July and August of 2014 and the increasing frequency of storm events that are causing localized flooding, continues to 
focus attention on the need to address flooding and flood mitigation strategies. Working with Common Council members and neighborhood advocates, the Water Department has conducted community meetings to gather information and input on flooding and storm events to assist us in developing an approach to flood mitigation.  

The Albany Water Board will continue to expend funds to address flood mitigation. We are currently completing design on major flood mitigation projects to address a history of flooding in the Hansen and Ryckman Avenue neighborhoods and will be bidding these projects for construction in 2016. We are currently completing design for a flood mitigation project for Elberon Place to be constructed in 2016 that will complement the Quail St Green Infrastructure Project currently under construction, to be completed in 2016. We received $1.45 million in grant funding through the CFA Grant program in 2015 to support these Flood Mitigation projects.

SEWER COSTS
Funds in this account are for the contract with the Albany County Sewer District for Treatment and Interceptor Sewers.

The Albany Water Board established a sewer rate that is 100 percent of water rates.  The Board collects that money to both fund our sewer programs, and to pay Albany County to process the City’s sewerage.  In 2015, the amount paid to Albany County by the Albany Water Board was $6.125 million, slightly over our budgeted figure of $6.05 million. We have budgeted $6.177 million for the 2016 payment to the County Sewer District. 

BACKWATER VALVES
Our Backwater Valve Grant Program has been extended as we continue our public outreach to raise awareness of this program. We have included $50,000 in our 2016 budget proposal to continue the Backwater Valve Grant Program, which provides a $1,500 reimbursement grant to qualified owner-occupied single or two-family residential properties that have evidence of past backups.  To date, we have approved the installation of 350 backwater valves at a total cost of $450,000.  

RISKS TO SERVICE DELIVERY, COST CONTAINMENT, REVENUE
Our most significant risks to service delivery are with the increasing age of our infrastructure. As the system ages, the reliability factor is challenged by water main breaks and sewer line failures. Our source and transmission main do not have redundancy and that is a challenge when we take them 
out of service for maintenance or repair. These risks also are budget risks if they exceed what we budget for repairs based on historical experience. We are planning to mitigate this risk with 
emergency interconnections with our neighboring water systems and are currently exploring and/or expanding these relationships. By advancing our Asset Management Plan, we will be able to assess a 
more objective risk management based capital plan that measures the probability of an asset failure measured against the consequences of that failure.

As we continue to explore flood mitigation, short term and long term mitigation solutions will have a financial impact that will need to be considered in the context of our rate structure and alternative project financing. Also, the financial impact of the Long Term Control Plan on our budget was defined with more clarity in 2015, providing a basis for reviewing our rate structure and future financing plans for LTCP implementation.

Our revenue stream is essentially entirely rate based. We will continue to explore and investigate additional revenue opportunities moving forward.

HOW TO CONNECT

The property owner contracts with a licensed plumber for the construction of a new water service. There is a fee to the Albany Water Board for tapping the water main and also a fee for a water meter. These fees vary according to the size of the service. Contact customer service at 518-434-5300.

Contact Information

10 North Enterprise Drive Albany, NY 12204
DISPATCH: (518) 434-5322  
(518) 434-5300 (7:30 a.m.-12 midnight, Monday - Friday) 
(518) 462-4004 (12 midnight-7:30 a.m., weekends & holidays) 
Fax: (518) 434-5332 
water@ci.albany.ny.us