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Nov 27, 2023

CFPUA 2023 Annual Report Chronicles a Year of Organizational Excellence

Sponsored Content provided by Jennifer Adams - Chairwoman, Cape Fear Public Utility Authority

With the approach of the year’s end, individuals and organizations commonly reflect on the challenges and accomplishments of the preceding 12 months while resolving to embrace the opportunities ahead in a coming new year.

The process of yearly reflection is enshrined in Cape Fear Public Utility Authority’s bylaws, which designate the Board’s November meeting as an annual meeting. The annual report also is presented to the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners and the Wilmington City Council, which created CFPUA in 2007 by merging their existing municipal water and sewer systems.

I and my fellow Board members received the 2023 Annual Report from Executive Director Kenneth Waldroup at last month’s meeting. The Annual Report details some of the year’s most important capital projects, provides a snapshot of organizational finances, and spotlights of some of the 340 CFPUA staff members who ensure the provision of quality, cost-effective water and wastewater services to our customers and the community, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The accomplishments featured in the 2023 Annual Report are the fruit of careful, deliberative planning and focused execution by the Board and CFPUA staff, guided by our Strategic Plan. These include:

A Strategic Partnership with New Hanover County to Connect Unserved Communities: In a previous Insights post, I discussed how interest in connecting to CFPUA water service has increased following the State’s November 2021 determination that Chemours is responsible for contamination by its PFAS in private wells in New Hanover and neighboring counties. That earlier piece also explained how customers typically are connected to water service and the complications and costs involved in connecting existing homes and businesses that currently rely on private wells for drinking water.

To address this challenge, CFPUA formed a partnership with New Hanover County and developed initiatives aimed at providing relief in the short, medium, and long term. These include public water stations, a pilot program to connect residences in the Rockhill community that are adjacent to existing water mains, and a study to prioritize unincorporated areas for potential extensions of water and sewer mains to enable connections to service.

The Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant Replacement Project: CFPUA’s 10-year Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) is a roadmap of carefully considered, strategic investments in water and sewer services that support the continued vibrance and health of the community we serve. Of the $648.4 million in projects in the 10-year CIP, 86 percent will go toward rehabilitating or replacing aging infrastructure. This includes the replacement of the Southside Wastewater Treatment Plant, which was built in 1972 and is one of two wastewater treatment plants in our system. With an estimated total construction cost of $240 million, the Southside replacement project is the largest capital improvement project in our organization’s history. I shared details about this project and its importance to our community in a piece earlier this year.

In September, CFPUA’s Board voted to award a $13.1 million contract to Crowder Construction Company for Phase 1 Services for the project. Phase 1 services includes an engineering report, site survey, 75 percent design specifications and drawings, permits acquisition, and other pre-construction work. The $13 million value of Phase 1 is approximately 5.4 percent of the project’s budget of $240 million. Phase 1 is expected to be completed by July 2025.

CFPUA Customer Satisfaction Survey: CFPUA exists to serve our customers and the community. As such, it is important to know how we are doing in that regard. We want to know whether customers are satisfied with their interactions with CFPUA and the services we provide, as well as whether we are working on the issues our customers think are of greatest importance. To that end, in 2023 we conducted our first independently administered customer satisfaction survey. A national survey firm collected responses from more than 1,000 CFPUA residential customers to provide a statistically representative snapshot. 

report of the survey results is available online. Among other things, we learned that most (88 percent) customers that had interactions with staff came away “satisfied” or “very satisfied” and that almost 70 percent believe the safety of drinking water should be CFPUA’s top priority. The customer survey is a key component of our Strategic Plan initiative to “positively transform brand perception with the public and our customers.” Results will help guide our actions and serve as a benchmark to measure progress toward achieving this initiative.

National Recognition of CFPUA’s Organizational Excellence: I believe the Annual Report is a chronicle of the organizational excellence of CFPUA and its talented, dedicated staff. Still, it is gratifying to have that belief validated authoritatively by national organizations using industrywide benchmarks.

This year, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) selected CFPUA as one of only two utilities nationwide to receive its Gold Recognition, which acknowledges substantive effort to implement seven of the 10 attributes of “Effective Utility Management: A Primer for Water and Wastewater Utilities,” or EUM, which is intended to “help utilities maintain a balanced focus on all important operational areas rather than reactively moving from one problem to the next or focusing on the ‘problem of the day.’ ”

NACWA also selected CFPUA as one of only two representative utilities on a national taskforce to update EUM on its 15-year anniversary.

These are just some of the accomplishments contained in the 2023 Annual Report. I encourage you to explore it online at CFPUA.org/annualreport.

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