• December 17, 2014

Under water: DOD awards contract to American Water

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Posted: Wednesday, January 22, 2014 4:30 am

The Defense Department awarded American Water Works Co. a contract for a 10th military installation’s water and wastewater system earlier this month. Fort Hood has used the company since 2008.

The move to use such a company is part of the Defense Department and Department of the Army’s initiative to privatize services, said Brian Dosa, Fort Hood’s Department of Public Works directorate.

For the military post, the move to privatization started with housing in 2001 and the water-based infrastructures followed in 2008. Electric and gas utilities are still handled by Fort Hood employees.

“(American Water) is helping us do a good job and to be honest are doing a better job,” Dosa said about managing and improving the infrastructure.

Earlier this month, American Water was awarded a 50-year, $288 million contract to provide water and wastewater services to Hill Air Force Base in Utah.

In a similar 50-year, $330 million contract penned in September 2008, the company gained control of about 341 miles of water lines and 271 miles of sewer lines that spans from North to West Fort Hood to Belton Lake Outdoor Recreation Area.

The lines range from ¾ inches to 42 inches in diameter.

“In our military service, no two other bases match the infrastructure on Fort Hood,” said AJ Olson, a utility manager for American Water.

Military bases aren’t the same, said Jimmy Sheridan, American Water’s military services director. Fort Hood is different because it is really big, but compared to some municipalities served by American Water, the size is “reasonable.”

American Water holds more than 60 contracts for water and wastewater systems, according to its website.

“One of the things privatization does is it allow us to focus on improvements,” Dosa said. “It allows us to focus on what the shortcomings are and get dollars for those projects.”

Some such projects have prevented water leakage, installed more efficient water pumps and created a better flowing system, said Adam Alexander, a department of public works supervising engineer.

All of which improve water quality and conservation.

The goal of Fort Hood and American Water is making sure Belton Lake’s water levels don’t drop, Alexander said.

Another benefit is the experience American Water brings to Fort Hood, Sheridan said.

The company has been in the field for 150 years and with about 6,500 employees there is a lot of knowledge to pull from.

“Obviously, American Water has a deeper bench,” Dosa said. “I think that is why it has been a good thing. They can bring that experience to Fort Hood.”

In January 2009, Fort Hood began transitioning from its own employees to American Water Works.

Post employees used to handle reconstruction of broken water mains and leaks, which now is done by American Water, Dosa said. The 2009 contact didn’t affect Fort Hood’s agreements with Bell County Water Control and Improvement District No. 1 or Gatesville.

Both entities handle the treatment of drinking water from Belton Lake for Fort Hood’s water system, and the treatment of wastewater from the military installation.

mcanales@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7544

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