2021 - The Year in Review
The COVID-19 pandemic continued to impact the world and its economy throughout 2021. Novel m-RNA type vaccines became available to the public in the first half of the year bringing a sense of hope that the widespread transmission of the virus would soon be behind us. COVID case numbers dropped dramatically during the summer months, granting some relief. But the Delta and easily transmissible Omicron variants showed up later in the year and demonstrated that we are not out of the woods yet. Global supply chains continued to be disrupted making items such as water pipe, brass fitting, fire hydrants, valve boxes, repair parts, vehicles, and chemicals difficult and expensive to obtain. The demand for these and normal consumer items far outpaced supply and drove inflation and the Consumer Price Index to 7.0 % in 2021. It was the largest single year jump in inflation since 1981.
The Canton Water Department (CWD) finished the year in the black with a $1,549,600 carryover. Rates were increased 7% in 2021 and will be raised by 7% again in 2022, in preparation for the Sugar Creek Water Treatment Plant and Cromer Reservoir renovation debt repayments. Hopefully we’ll be able to hold rate increases near the Consumer Price Index in the future and rely on internal efficiencies to make up any differences. But much of that depends on the direction of inflation and future regulatory requirements.
Sugar Creek Water Treatment Plant
Burgess & Niple completed the design and specifications for the Sugar Creek WTP and wellfield renovations. We are currently awaiting Ohio EPA plan approval and hope to bid the project in the Spring of 2022, with construction to start later the same year. Again, we’re somewhat concerned that supply chain disruptions and volatility in pricing will negatively impact bid prices. Hopefully the construction bids will be reasonably priced so that we may proceed as planned.
The Cromer Reservoir evaluation also continued throughout 2021. After thorough testing and consideration of the physical state of the existing structure and what it would take to renovate that structure, it has been decided to build a new storage tank instead. It has also been determined that approximately half of the current 15 MG storage capacity, or 7.5MG, should be adequate to meet current and future water storage needs at this location.
- The third year of the concrete transmission main inspection was completed in 2021, with the final 6.3 miles being acoustically tested for leaks. That brings the total to 26.7 miles inspected. Once again, there were no significant water leaks detected. We are now assured that that the concrete main is not a contributor to the unaccounted-for-water balance.
- The Valve Maintenance Program continued during 2021 with 1,871 valves being located and operated. The 4th and final year of this round of testing will occur in 2022. During the inspection of valves, the water lines are also acoustically checked for leaks. Surprisingly, very few leaks have been found using this relatively sensitive technique.
- The Water Department GIS team completed the implementation of the “Cartegraph” Computerized Maintenance Management System. This powerful electronic work order and asset management system is now fully operational and being used throughout the department. We should begin to realize significant improvements in operational efficiency and effectiveness as a result.
- Likewise, the Water team and ARCADIS finalized the distribution system Hydraulic Model. This digital representation of pressures, flows and water age in our system turned out very well and is quite accurate. The information this model provides will be instrumental in making educated decisions and improvements throughout the system. It is another very powerful tool that will improve our efficiency and effectiveness as an organization.
- Work on our first ever Water Audit and Transient Water study will continue into 2022. When complete, both are expected to be valuable tools for CWD.
Last but not least, Canton Water Department experienced a historic year of obtaining grants along with non-repayable and 0% interest loan funds. First, we applied for and were awarded $1.5M in H2Ohio grant funds to put toward the completion of the multi-phase Canton Township water line extension project. Then we applied for and were awarded $5M in Ohio Builds grant funds. This total of $6.5M in state award money will pay for the entirety of the remaining 6.2 miles of water main extensions in Canton Township and provide 425 new customers access to City water. These grant programs were very competitive and CWD is privileged to be awarded these funds from the state.
We also applied for the local Ohio Public Works Commission grant and 0% interest loans for water line replacement projects. We’ve had great success obtaining these funds over the last decade and this year was no different. The Market Avenue water line replacement project, from 30th to 44th Street, and the Harvard Avenue NW project were each awarded $1.5M in combined grant and 0% interest loans. The total record setting awards to CWD in 2021 are $9.5M! I am very proud of our staff’s ability to take advantage of these valuable programs.
The Canton Water Department would like to thank the Mayor, Director of Public Service, Director of Public Safety, Law Director, Auditor, Treasurer, and members of City Council for their valuable and continued support throughout the year. I would also like to thank the outstanding staff of the CWD for the dedicated, unselfish service to this department and the community in which we live and work.
Tyler S. Converse, M.B.A.
City of Canton Water Department
2020 Fuller Award Recipient