NARRATIVE: Becoming a Utility of the Future  

Clean Water Services was formed in 1970 as a regional wastewater utility that relied on old-school 
pipes, pumps and plants to clean water. By the 1990s we’d expanded our mission to stormwater, water 
reuse and water supply. All along we’ve kept our eyes on the bottom line for our ratepayers. And, we 
were into sustainability early on because we got the connection between a healthy economy, clean 
water and natural areas. We pioneered resource recovery, first with biosolids and recycled water, then 
with the Ostara facilities and Clean Water Grow. We are moving toward energy independence with solar 
power and co-generation, and transforming waste to watts using fats, oils and grease. With our 
agricultural partners, we are growing shade to lower river temperatures and enhance habitat. At Fernhill 
we are building natural treatment wetlands in harmony with people and wildlife. Our unique, first-in-
the-nation watershed permit allows expansive latitude for innovations that conserve natural resources 
while lowering costs. We encourage and reward the visionary risk-taking that precedes technological 
innovation, and are known for operating with the agility of a profit-based business. We have a clear 
commitment to do what’s best for the ratepayer and the watershed, and a long history of embracing the 
future while controlling our destiny.  

Cultural Activity – A key to our success is creating a team environment, exemplified by an annual goal 
sharing program since 2003 where employees develop objectives, measures, and targets that propel us 
toward ever greater achievement with financial awards. The goals are aspirational and tough, with an 
average accomplishment rate of about 60 percent annually, and even with targets that are not met 
there is significant forward progress and employees are incentivized to achieve more.  

Understanding what each member of the team contributes to the larger whole helps provide context 
and support for every employee every day. Visiting and engaging with staff in other groups and locations 
develops a deeper appreciation of what how seemingly disparate tasks are connected. Even when 
projects involve most of the departments, it is important to take the time for staff to become familiar 
with the projects. An example is when the Finance group was encouraged to visit the new Fernhill 
natural treatment system, and they returned to the office able to explain how nature and improved 
habitat connects to the treatment process and improved water quality. Although processing contracts, 
invoices and payments can be dry, our Finance staff now shares the pride of creating beautiful clean 
water in our community.