Green Bay Water Utility/Central Brown County Water Authority

Allouez, Wisconsin, United States

Regional Collaborative is Making a Big SPLASH in Northeastern Wisconsin

People in northeastern Wisconsin share many things in common: a love for their prized cheese, the outdoors, and the Packers. One thing they haven’t always shared is an effective way for their water utilities to collaborate. That is now changing thanks to Raftelis and the SPLASH Study. SPLASH is an acronym for Sustainable Partnership Linking Area Services and H2O. SPLASH is a joint effort between Green Bay Water Utility (GBWU) and the utilities that comprise the Central Brown County Water Authority (CBCWA) to identify opportunities for shared cost saving, greater efficiencies, and better customer service. It builds on past and ongoing efforts between the agencies and the communities they serve.

The area around the City of Green Bay in Brown County is a patchwork of towns and villages, most of which have their own water utilities. For many decades the smaller communities relied on wells for their source of supply, while the larger City of Green Bay obtained its drinking water from Lake Michigan. In the 1980s and 1990s, growth, changing regulations and contamination in area wells drove the City of De Pere, Village of Allouez, Village of Bellevue, Village of Howard, Town of Lawrence and the Town of Ledgeview to seek a new primary water source. In 1999, they formed the CBCWA to be a wholesale entity for purchasing water. After unsuccessful negotiations with GBWU, the CBCWA connected with Manitowoc Public Utilities (MPU) about 30 miles away. While this was a missed opportunity between GBWU and CBCWA, it put them on a long path to future collaboration.

With growth continuing in the area and a shift away from heavy manufacturing, it’s vital that GBWU and CBCWA explore new and innovative ways to manage costs and provide better services. Raftelis is helping the communities examine the services each organization provides and identify opportunities for collaboration. The SPLASH Study is identifying where the organizations can get together to benefit customers. The communities have already found many ways to work together, such as combined meter purchasing and joint tank painting contracts. Future collaboration will build on the great work that is already being done. Raftelis and the SPLASH participating communities are looking closely at opportunities such as joint billing, shared leak detection, collaborative training and SOP development, and combined cross connection control programs. They are also in the process of establishing a clearinghouse that will involve quarterly meetings and a Microsoft SharePoint site that houses information on contracts, calendars, system information, etc. to facilitate better resources sharing between the SPLASH participating utilities.

Raftelis also developed a strategic communications program for this regional effort, working with communication professionals from both the utility and the authority to ensure that all parties stayed on message, internal communication was prioritized, and that the effort had a brand that could live beyond the initial first year of work. Branded SPLASH (Sustainable Partnership Linking Area Services and H2O), the successful effort is now a role model for other agencies looking to share services or move into a regional structure.

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