October 27, 2011 

OWASA, the public non-profit agency providing water, sewer and reclaimed water services to the Carrboro-Chapel Hill community, recently received the Platinum Award for Utility Excellence from the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA).

AMWA is an organization of more than 180 public water supply agencies which serve more than 133 million people.

OWASA is one of nine utilities in the U.S. that received AMWA’s platinum awards on October 17th at the association’s annual meeting in Newport, Rhode Island. Ed Kerwin, OWASA’s Executive Director, represented OWASA.

“I am very grateful to the OWASA team, whose work makes it possible to continuously improve our services, and to our customers for providing the resources that enable us to provide high quality services and sustain our infrastructure systems,” Kerwin said.

OWASA received the award for its work in the last five years to achieve excellence in water quality, customer service, management processes and related items. OWASA’s award application included the following:

  • While OWASA’s customer base grew 3.6% from 2006 to 2011, water demand dropped 18%.  OWASA’s water conservation initiatives include increasing block water rates, public information, mandatory year-round conservation standards, and a reclaimed water (RCW) system developed with the University of North Carolina. The RCW system will meet about 12% of the community’s overall water demand in the coming year.
  • The annual number of water service interruptions over the last five years averaged 8.2 per 100 miles of pipe.  A study in 2009 by American Water Works Association indicates OWASA is in the top quartile among water utilities for this measure. 
  • Following functional analyses throughout the organization, OWASA has reduced its workforce by 15% without affecting service quality.  Reorganization, greater use of technology, and a more highly trained and flexible workforce made this possible.
  • In the area of financial sustainability, Moody’s Investors Service upgraded OWASA’s credit rating in 2010 from AA2 to AA1; Standard and Poor’s and Fitch rate OWASA AA+. (The highest possible rating is AAA.)
  • In May, 2011, OWASA became the ninth water utility in the U.S. to receive the Partnership for Safe Water’s award for Excellence in Water Treatment.

For more information:

Ms. Carolyn Peterson, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, 202-331-2820 or