It’s our pleasure to be a resource answering questions that come to us. What I’ve found is that often the questions asked are similar so it led to this idea to share the questions and answers here as they might be relevant to what you’re going through now, too. If you have a question, email it to info@PeopleService.com. If selected for this e-newsletter, we will send you a cup of poo. Okay, it’s not really poo but a coffee mug and poo emoji.
Hi Chris, I’m a customer and in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I really wanted to share that we are thankful for what PeopleService does for our community and the employees that make it all work. When I watch the news and hear what some cities go through when there is staff turnover or water issues, I don’t worry that our city will go there, but it bothers me that I can’t seem to convince citizens about the real value of your water and wastewater professionals and what it takes to provide clean water day-in and day-out. Add to that the frequent complaints about the cost of water, especially if we raise them a cent or two each year! What do your other customers do to educate their citizens about what it takes to provide this valuable resource?
Thank you for your kind words and great question! It can be frustrating, especially for those of us in the know about what it takes to operate water and wastewater systems. And, these days it takes a lot more than in days past. The regulations are tougher, the plants are older and there are more hazardous items in the pre-treated water that our operators must know how to deal with. Yet, getting to clean, safe water costs, on average, about the same (if not less) than cable TV or internet services which make it to the top of everyone’s budget. So, here are three things we suggest or have seen work in other cities we work with:
- Be the authority on the value of water and those that ensure it is safe. You can do this by providing helpful tips to citizens on how they can do their part (like not putting motor oil in the sewer, over-fertilizing their lawns, etc.). We provide co-branded tip and topic fliers to customers to send out with bills. Just email me and I’ll get you set up – at no cost to you.
- Position your PeopleService team as the professionals they are. Water and wastewater operators are Specialists! They know math, science, computers, mechanics and more – and they earn a host of water and wastewater certifications through the years that are really tough to master. It’s trickier to work with water and wastewater than most people appreciate and unfortunately, they get thrown into the public works department that covers streets, trash, etc.. which waters down the importance of qualified water and wastewater operators. These specialists know their stuff and stay up on what is happening and what is expected to assure safety and compliance with water regulations. Our operators are experienced, dedicated professionals your citizens can count on just as they do your city attorney and engineers who have in-depth education and experience. Remember, those operators are part of your community and have a vested interest to ensure everything is compliant. We’re happy to provide photos and credentials for the team that manages, operates and maintains your plant for your website if you like. (We do this because our guys are never going to brag about what they know and all they do.)
- Give numbers and pictures. Provide metrics to your citizens that illustrate how many gallons of water are treated and used in homes and treated and released into the environment without issue every day or week or month. The volume usually astounds and puts the monthly cost in perspective. Post pictures of the plant – or better yet – host tours (in tandem with your local fire department) of the water and wastewater plants. Some people may be surprised to know all that goes on in that cinder block building outside of town! Our operators will gladly host your council and others and walk through the processes and chemicals we manage.
- Allow PeopleService to conduct a water and/or wastewater rate analysis. Review existing water/wastewater rate structure. Compare existing water/wastewater rates with other communities. Design water/wastewater rate structure that includes projected capital and O&M requirements for all users of the water/wastewater utility system.
These really are effective ways to begin to bring an appreciation to those Specialists that work hard for the communities they operate in. We are always here to help our customers and of course, we’re ready to tell others how we can work with you to do the same.
Also, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, I wanted to thank all of our 200 plus water and wastewater Specialists. As a member of the communities you operate in and as an employee of PeopleService, we value your dedication, skills and passion for the special job that you do.