The Chesterfield County Department of Utilities is a public utility that uses state-of-the-art technology to deliver the highest quality service to its customers. The department provides water service to more than 107,000 customers and wastewater service to more than 90,000 customers in the county. It works with an annual operating budget of $67.7 million, employs 288 people, owns one water treatment plant and two wastewater-treatment plants, and controls 23 water-storage tanks and 39 pump stations.
The Utilities Department diligently ensures that water is safely and efficiently delivered to customers. Chesterfield County water consumers can be assured that the water they drink meets or exceeds federal drinking-water standards. The water-quality testing program is aggressive in meeting the standards, representing far more additional tests beyond the minimum levels required by law.
Maintaining the water quality in the James River and the Chesapeake Bay is equally as important to the social and economic future of Chesterfield County and the commonwealth of Virginia. The Proctors Creek and the Falling Creek wastewater treatment plants play significant roles in achieving this goal by consistently meeting all environmental regulations. Both plants have received awards of excellence from the Environmental Protection Agency, the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and the Virginia Water Environment Association. In 2013, nutrient upgrades were completed for both plants. These facility upgrades help ensure that Chesterfield County is a responsible steward of the environment and better protect the James River and Chesapeake Bay.
The Chesterfield County Utilities Department prides itself on the quality of its products and services, financial stability, customer service and workplace environment. The department’s business/performance plan is established around these four components. Performance measures that track how well we meet department goals are established for every work section in the department. Ensuring that each section is performing to its potential is reviewed throughout the year.
Progressive management and efficient department operations also have allowed the department to become a recognized leader in Virginia as well as the nation. Following are examples illustrating the department’s effectiveness:
- The department was one of 18 utilities in the country, and the first in Virginia, to meet the standards of the Partnership for Safe Drinking Water Program. This voluntary program, established by the Environmental Protection Agency, the American Water Works Association and others, demands extremely stringent performance and plant operations to assure drinking water quality of the highest standard. Likewise, the department was the first in Virginia to receive the EPA’s 10-Year Director’s Award for maintaining these high performance levels for 10 years. The department was recognized again in 2013 for the Fifteen-Year Director's Award.
- The department is one of the few drinking-water utilities that has never had a primary drinking-water-standard violation.
- The department issued 2016 revenue bonds to refinance all outstanding debt. The top three rating agencies (Standard and Poor’s, Moody’s Investors Service and Fitch Ratings) affirmed the triple-AAA bond rating status. The department first obtained its triple-AAA ratings in 2002 and has maintained this designation through sound management practices over the years. The department is the only local government water and sewer public utility in Virginia, and one of only a few in the nation, with a triple-AAA revenue bond rating.
- The user rates for water and sewer service in Chesterfield County are significantly lower than that of other localities in the region. One reason for this efficiency is our employee-to-customer ratio, which also is lower than our benchmarking partners.
- The department is one of few utilities that has established a “Rate Stabilization Fund” to address the replacement of aging infrastructure. This fund, established in 1995, is used for the replacement of older water and sewer lines through the department’s Capital Improvement Program. The implementation of this fund, as well as the relative young age of the utility system in Chesterfield County, is atypical of many of the “aging-infrastructure” issues commonly reported.
- In April 2016, the department was recognized with a silver medal from the 2016 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award program. This medal was awarded for the Chesterfield County’s wastewater treatment process optimization program, which was initiated by employees as a way of identifying process improvements that have led to significant energy costs savings. The Governor’s Environmental Excellence Awards are administered by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality and recognize the significant contributions of environmental and conservation leaders.
- In October 2015, the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies honored the department with the Sustainable Water Utility Management Award. Only twelve public-drinking water systems in the nation received this award.
- In July 2014, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies selected the department for its Excellence in Management Platinum Recognition. Utilities throughout the country compete for this distinction, with a select few receiving the award. In order to receive this honor, member agencies are required to implement and sustain, for a continuous three-year period, successful programs that address the spectrum of unique environmental challenges faced by utilities that provide wastewater treatment services to their communities.
- In October 2008, the department was awarded the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies Platinum Award for Utility Excellence. It was one of only 11 public drinking-water systems in the country to receive this award. The Platinum Award was based on the Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities developed by a blue-ribbon panel of water and wastewater utility executives and commissioned by the Environmental Protection Agency, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, and other water-industry associations. The attributes identified include product quality, customer satisfaction, employee and leadership development, operational optimization, financial viability, infrastructure stability, operational resiliency, community sustainability, water resource adequacy, and stakeholder understanding and support.
- Both the Proctor’s Creek and Falling Creek wastewater treatment plants, routinely receive annual Gold and Silver awards from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies for exceptional compliance with discharge-permit regulations.
These activities and recognitions represent only a few of the department’s achievements. The department functions with a detailed, focused business plan that is supported by a staff of dedicated, professional employees. We are proud of the service we provide to our customers.