North Oakland County Water Authority Formation & As-Needed Services
North Oakland County Water Authority
Oakland County, MI
Unprecedented regional collaboration between neighboring communities maximizes existing infrastructure to provide better service and millions in savings annually.
The North Oakland County Water Authority (NOCWA) is a regional water authority created as a means to provide four neighboring Detroit Metro communities with better customer service at a lower cost. After a decade of individual attempts by the communities of Auburn Hills, Rochester Hills, Orion Township and Pontiac, and their water supplier failing to fully abate low water pressure in residents’ homes at continually increasing prices, OHM Advisors suggested a collaborative approach to the still-ongoing problem. As the engineering consultant for two of the communities, we knew the regional drinking water system issues and advocated for the formation of a collective water authority. With it, the communities could leverage their resources—namely, Pontiac’s unused water storage capacity—to collectively reduce peak hour demand from the supplier, lowering water costs and improving pressure for all communities for minimal investment. And by maximizing existing infrastructure, the communities would reduce capital investments.
Our team worked with the communities and the Oakland County Water Resources Commissioner’s Office (OCWRC), owner and operator of the City of Pontiac’s water system, to spearhead the creation of NOCWA. We developed the technical plan for collaborative water system storage and usage operation, which the communities agreed to manage cooperatively. We helped NOCWA negotiate water supplier contracts to take advantage of significant savings. And we helped develop a fair methodology for allocating a monthly bill percentage to each NOCWA member. The innovative solution provides significant water pressure increase during peak usage periods and collective savings of $5 million annually, and encourages similar future collaboration efforts that further advance each individual community’s objectives.
Project Highlights: drinking water, regional water authority, engineering, SCADA, smart water technology
The stability that NOCWA provides to its members gives us some control over what our rates are and what they will be in the future.