LCA Proud to Announce Two Awards!

It’s been an exciting spring here at LCA, with the announcement of two awards presented to our hardworking crew.  

First, congratulations are due to our dedicated Water Filtration Plant team for receiving the Area Wide Optimization Program (AWOP) Award for the 17th year in a row! The award is presented to participants that meet the stringent American Water Works Association Partnership program’s water quality standards. Meeting these standards, which are higher than those of the state Department of Environmental Protection or the federal Environmental Protection Agency, is just one demonstration of our commitment to providing customers with clean, high-quality drinking water.

What is AWOP?

The EPA writes that they “designed AWOP to enhance public health protection by optimizing the performance of public water systems.” Program participants have cited benefits such as enhanced staff motivation, more comprehensive training, improved cost-effectiveness, more effective use of state resources, and improved treatment plant performance.

The LCA team has been steadily identifying and implementing advancements to the treatment plant and process that have helped us meet the AWOP requirements—including adjusting our operating procedures, investing more work hours, and purchasing and repairing equipment.

For instance, treating water during storms historically has been challenging. However, it has helped our team to become more proficient at reacting to changing water conditions. For example, starting in 2018 the flocculators (which remove suspended solids from water), influent channels (which carry wastewater), and plate settlers (another tool to remove suspended solids) have been hosed out four times a year to remove settled solids caused by lower-than-ideal water movement through these processes.  Removing this sludge greatly increases our pretreatment and settling capabilities, which enhances our ability to increase our production rates and not sacrifice our treatment goals.  

Improvements Produce Results

Among other improvements, this year’s treatment data for Lehigh County Authority’s Allentown division showed a decrease in “raw water turbidity” (cloudiness) when compared to last year—even while water demand was slightly higher. The average raw turbidity was 4.89 NTU compared to 5.62 NTU last year.

“I want to congratulate all of you for earning the Area Wide Optimization Award (AWOP Award) for the seventeenth year in a row!” Water Plant Manager Steven K. Lettko wrote to his team. “The AWOP Award is earned by achieving strict treatment parameters set through our participation in the AWWA Partnership for Safe Water program. …Thank you for everything that all of you do on a regular basis to achieve this type of performance 365 days a year. Please be proud of this important achievement because each one of you has directly participated in the efforts to earn this award.” 

“Receiving the AWOP award for the 17th year in a row exemplifies the dedication of the operations team, who work diligently 365 days a year,” according to Andrew Moore, Director of Plant Operations. “Achieving the requirements of this award is no easy task and requires constant plant monitoring, attention to detail, and commitment to optimizing water quality.  This consistent recognition highlights the team’s expertise and vital role in ensuring safe, reliable drinking water for the community.”

Transparent Accounting

The second is an award for Excellence in Financial Reporting, presented to Lehigh County Authority and our Chief Financial Officer Edward Klein by the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) of the United States and Canada. Our team has won this award, which recognizes Klein and LCA for our comprehensive annual financial report, every year since 1984!

“It is an honor for our team to receive this prestigious award for financial reporting,” Klein says. “We are proud of our team’s daily work and transparency in our financial reporting, but especially proud of their work on our award-winning annual financial report for 2022.”

In a press release announcing the honor, GFOA says the 2022 report met the program’s high standards, including demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to communicate its financial story.

The release says the GFOA launched the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting Program in 1945 “to encourage and assist state and local governments to go beyond the minimum requirements of generally accepted accounting principles to prepare annual comprehensive financial reports that evidence the spirit of transparency and full disclosure and then to recognize individual governments that succeed in achieving that goal. The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting. Congratulations, again, for having satisfied the high standards of the program.”

You can read more about LCA’s finances and capital plans here.

“LCA is proud to receive these two honors, and even more proud of the team members who made them possible,” said Liesel Gross, Chief Executive Officer. “We congratulate our teams for their exceptional work and dedication to LCA and the communities we serve.”