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NARRATIVE: The Utilities Board of the City of Daphne (“Daphne Utilities”) provides water, wastewater, 
and natural gas utility services to the citizens of the city of Daphne and the surrounding communities. It 
serves a population of approximately 25,000 along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay in south Alabama. 
Daphne Utilities is a forward-thinking, innovative organization which has long engaged in promoting a 
culture designed to enhance operational efficiency, to meet and exceed all regulatory requirements, to 
be exemplary stewards of its resources, and to achieve high levels of customer service.   

In 2006, Daphne Utilities began its cultural transformation with the appointment of a new Board of 
Directors and administrative management staff. New leadership brought a passion for innovation and 
excellence never before seen at the small utility. A number of initiatives were implemented that first 
year. Among these early initiatives were programs focusing on operational issues to enhance customer 
service and community outreach.  One of these programs – the “Cease the Grease” campaign – was a 
residential cooking oil recycling program to reduce the incidence of FOG-related SSO’s. Going beyond 
similar programs at other organizations, Daphne Utilities created a broad network of cooking oil/grease 
drop-off locations throughout its service area and heavily promoted the program in the community. 
Daphne Utilities used the customer-recycled oil to manufacture biodiesel fuel (with a biodiesel 
processor built from spare parts at its WWTP) and operated its equipment and trucks using the fuel. One 
of the trucks became a rolling billboard for the campaign with the slogan, “Powered by Biodiesel” 
emblazoned on the sides, and marketing campaigns to “look for the truck that smells like french fries!”   

The “Cease the Grease” program became so popular the utility began receiving more used oil than it 
could process, but every gallon received was a gallon which did not end up in the sanitary sewer system. 
FOG-related SSO’s were reduced by 40% in that first year and ongoing FOG-related issues are minimal. 
Because of the program, customers are regularly reminded of the value of working together with the 
Utility to reduce sewer spills to protect the environment and to save on the cost of operations (using 
low-cost biodiesel fuel) which helps keep rates low.  The program was recognized by the EPA as an 
environmental model for other organizations and received the Gulf Guardian Award. The program is also 
listed on the EPA website in the “wastewater collection system toolbox” 
(https://www3.epa.gov/region1/sso/toolbox.html).  

On the heels of this program, Daphne Utilities was firmly entrenched in a culture of community 
outreach. It became a common site to see Daphne Utilities’ employees at every community event, 
particularly those related to environmental concerns (i.e., Earth Day, Arbor Day, Coastal Cleanup, etc.). 
Daphne Utilities sponsors many of these programs and provides fun activities for children. While the 
children are engaged, staff uses the opportunities to interact with the parents and promote the value of 
the utility in the community. The Utility regularly hosts field trips for school-age children at its water and 
wastewater treatment facilities, provides classroom instruction at local schools on water quality and 
environmental issues, and informational presentations for local civic groups and Chambers of 
Commerce. Because these activities have become an integral part of the culture, employees of the 
utility regularly suggest new ideas for events. Employee ideas have included, providing bagged class-A 
biosolids as a compost starter for the tree giveaways at Arbor Day, and using a giant slingshot to hurl 
snowballs into Mobile Bay to “combat global warming” (by far the most popular activity at Earth Day). 
Each year Daphne Utilities’ community presence continues to grow along with its reputation as a 
valuable community partner.