Benchmarking Report

At the request of Montgomery and Prince Georges County, WSSC initiated a benchmarking study in 2015 to determine how the Commission’s staffing levels, financial management, rates, and quality of its programs and services compared to other Utilities.  WSSC contracted with the Veolia Group to perform the benchmarking analysis.  The Veolia Group designs and provides water, waste and energy management services domestically and internationally. 

The Study relied on a number of different benchmarking standards to evaluate the different aspects of WSSC’s operations including: 

  1. QualServe benchmarking comparisons were made with: 
    1. Combined water and sewer utilities 
    2. Large utilities 
  2. Staffing comparisons were made with large utilities, with functional comparisons made with: 
    1. Similarly regulated utilities 
    2. Utilities with large pipelines 
  3. Rate and affordability comparisons were made with the top 50 utilities 
  4. Financial metric comparisons were made with large utilities
  5. Best Practices Evaluation of Customer Service; Procurement; Fleet; Utility Services; Asset Management and Capital Improvement Program; Water Treatment and Waste Water Treatment.  

The Study involved extensive interviews with staff and management; data collection of WSSC staffing, financial and operational data; scoring the performance of WSSC according to Veolia’s standard scale; and performing a gap analysis of near-term improvement goal with current scores and making recommendations on how to improve performance as appropriate.  

The study indicated that: 

  • WSSC’s staffing levels were generally at or below the median for comparable Utilities
  • WSSC did better than the combined utility median for 8 out of the 11 best practice elements. 
  • WSSC’s bond rating (AAA by all three major rating agencies); cash adequacy; and debt ratio compared favorably to both the Qual-Serve Median and the Large Utility Median. 
  • Single Family Residential monthly bills and affordability, compared to large utilities, is at or below average.  

The Best Practice Assessment indicated that Water and Wastewater Treatment operations is performing relatively well but that improvements were needed in certain areas including Customer Service, Fleet, Asset Management, and Procurement.  

WSSC staff has presented these results to the Commission on June 19, the Prince Georges County Council on June 21, and the Montgomery County Council’s Transportation and Environment Committee on July 21.  

WSSC has asked each of its operating teams to review the results and recommendations of the Benchmarking Study and provide a response on how they will implement improvements over the next 36 months to align operations with recognized best practices.  

WSSC is also currently working with representatives from both Montgomery and Prince Georges County and consultants from Black & Veatch to review its water and sewer volumetric rates and determine if any modifications should be made to better serve its customers.  The working group will identify optional rate models with an analysis of customer billing impacts and will work with community stakeholders on evaluating the benefits and drawbacks of these alternative models.  The final report is expected in September 2017.  Any new rate structure would not be adopted until July 2018 and would require the support of both the Montgomery and Prince Georges County Councils.  

 

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