Environmental Quality

Goal 1: Provide safe and adequate water
Source: Public Works and Utilities Department     EQ Goal1     7/2/2013
About this measure:
Atrazine is a commonly used agricultural chemical applied to farm fields during the planting season and is consistently found in the Platte River in runoff after spring or early summer rain fall events. The current federal standard for Atrazine is a maximum of 3 parts per billion (ppb). Lincoln’s water is measured frequently to determine this rate by the Lincoln Water System (LWS) lab.
Why this is important:
The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the amount of Atrazine allowed in public water supplies because long term exposure has been linked to poor health outcomes. A single violation for exceeding the Atrazine standard requires public notification. If Atrazine levels increase to near the maximum level of 3 ppb, LWS must add a form of carbon to the water treatment process, requiring considerable capital expense.
What is being done:
LWS manages the well field withdrawals to prevent Atrazine exposure. LWS shuts down production wells close to the river during spring run-off events to prevent large amounts of Atrazine from being drawn into the aquifer and production wells. In addition, LWS uses ozone treatment to reduce and mitigate the presence of Atrazine.



Source: Public Works and Utilities Department     EQ Goal1     7/3/2013
About this measure:
Arsenic is a naturally occurring element in the earth and is present to some degree in all the City’s groundwater supplies. The current federal standard for arsenic is a maximum of 10 parts per billion (ppb). Prior to 2006, the Maximum Contaminant Level (MCL) for arsenic was 50 ppb. Lincoln’s water is measured frequently to determine this rate by the Lincoln Water System (LWS) lab.
Why this is important:
The federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates the amount of arsenic allowed in public water supplies because long term exposure has been linked to poor health outcomes. A single MCL violation for Arsenic requires public notification.
If the federal arsenic standard is lowered to 5 or 3 ppb, LWS will have to find alternate sources of water or install arsenic treatment/removal technologies resulting in tens of millions of dollars in capital expenditures.
What is being done:
Historical tests of Lincoln’s wells for arsenic show an average concentration of 7-8 ppb, which does not require any additional treatment to meet the federal standard. LWS continues to test arsenic concentrations in water. If the arsenic does not meet the federal standard, the Lincoln Water System would have to implement a treatment process to remove the arsenic or find alternate water supplies.



Source: Public Works and Utilities Department     EQ Goal1     6/25/2013
About this measure:
The chart measures the number of breaks in water mains that require Lincoln Water System staff intervention. It is presented as a ratio of number of breaks per 100 miles. Lincoln's standard is 14 breaks per 100 miles. The national benchmark is 25 breaks per 100 miles.
Why this is important:
Water main breaks based on total miles of water mains is both an indicator of the condition of the water distribution system and the level of service provided to customers. While Lincoln's rate is much less than the National comparison, increases in main breaks require more staff and financial resources to maintain the current level of services to customers.
What is being done:
The life span of a water main is 60 to 100 years. The average age of the 1,200 miles of water mains in the distribution system is 42 years old. Over 12% (150 miles) of the system is older than 80 years. The Lincoln Water System currently funds over $4.0 million annually to replace old and failing water mains. This equates to about 0.5% of the system being replaced each year. Twice this amount is necessary to replace water mains on a 100 year cycle.



Source: Public Works and Utilities Department     EQ Goal1     7/2/2013
About this measure:
The indicator measures the estimated number of hours customers are without water during a water main break or other unplanned interruption of service. The Lincoln Water System (LWS) goal is to restore water service within 4 hours of the outage. The actual length of time depends on a variety of factors including time to locate the leak, conflicting utilities, depth of the water main, traffic and paved areas. The indicator is measured internally by LWS.
Why this is important:
Consistent uninterrupted water service is necessary to protect the health, safety and economic interests of the City of Lincoln. LWS must provide adequate staff, resources, policy and procedures to ensure service interruptions are kept to a minimum.
What is being done:
LWS retains skilled and dedicated staff to respond to water main breaks 24 hours per day, 7 days a week. This requires staff to work on-call and be available quickly 365 days each year. LWS has dedicated staff that are equipped to efficiently and safely perform work in all kinds of traffic and weather conditions



Source: Public Works and Utilities Department     EQ Goal1     7/2/2013
About this measure:
A positive test for coliform bacteria (non-harmful) is an indicator that contamination of the drinking water may have occurred. The federal standard allows 5% of the monthly samples collected to contain coliform. If the samples collected exceed 5%, corrective action and public notification is required. The LWS Laboratory staff collects more than 175 samples per month in compliance with the federal standard.
Why this is important:
The presence of coliform beyond the federal standard would require a more thorough examination of the water sample site to determine if a real contamination event has occurred. A contamination event would require corrective action or an effort to find alternate water supplies.
What is being done:
The highest percentage of coliform LWS has had since 2003 is 0.24%, indicating a well-managed and maintained system. LWS maintains a chlorine residual (disinfectant) in the water supplied to the customer, and conducts a cross connection control program to prevent contaminated water from being drawn back into the public water system.



Source: Public Works and Utilities Department     EQ Goal1     6/25/2013
About this measure:
LWS has participated in a benchmarking survey with a number of its peer utilities. The results of that survey shows that the average water bill in Lincoln is less than 0.5% of the median household income. (ie; Median Income = $4,000/month; Average Water Bill = $20) The median is 0.70% of the 88 water utilities participating in the AWWA Survey.
Why this is important:
The affordability of water is an indication of when the water utility bill is too high for certain low income populations in a community. EPA has used an affordability threshold for a community when the average water bill would exceed 2.5% of median household income. Other references suggest that 2.0% would be a better guide.
What is being done:
LWS manages budgets very closely. The biggest financial variable that LWS is facing is the repair and/or replacement of deteriorating infrastructure. Water main replacement is currently budgeted at a level lower than that which would be sustainable. Sustainability can be achieved in the future with rate increases that will keep LWS customers receiving affordable drinking water.



Source: Public Works and Utilities Department     EQ Goal1     6/25/2013
About this measure:
LWS regards energy management as a very important element of the day-to-day operation. A single incident of operating the wrong pumping unit can result in very substantial penalties not for just the one month, but for an entire next year.
Why this is important:
The energy costs to treat and pump water continue to rise. Omaha Public Power District (OPPD) is the supplier of electrical power to the Water Treatment Plant at Ashland. Since 2003, OPPD energy rates have risen 48.8 %, yet the actual cost paid by LWS is only slightly higher while pumping similar amounts of water to Lincoln. Due to energy conservation efforts in FYE 2012 alone, LWS saved $300,000 in electrical energy costs, which would have otherwise been spent for power. This also helps make LWS a sustainable utility.
What is being done:
LWS staff is very conscious of the size and number of pumps needed to deliver the required amount of water to Lincoln. A detailed pump table has been developed matching pumps, required flow rates and finished water transmission mains between Lincoln and Ashland to maximize efficiencies. LWS staff and representatives of both OPPD and Lincoln Electric System (LES) meet regularly to review energy rates and rate schedules to determine the most economical rate schedule for a particular pumping facility. Over the last 10 years, energy management efforts have save the utility over $2 million dollars.