207 

 

 

 

NARRATIVE: The Fairfield-Suisun Sewer District (District) is a wastewater special district serving 
approximately 136,000 customers in Central Solano County, California, about 40 miles northeast of San 
Francisco. Households, retail businesses, major food and beverage producers, light industries, 
manufacturers, and vital military operations depend upon our service.  The District safeguards public 
health and helps protect Suisun Marsh, the nation’s largest brackish water marsh and the largest 
remaining contiguous wetland on the Pacific Coast of North America.  More details of the information in 
this application can be found on our website at http://www.fssd.com.   

Over several decades, the District has evolved from a technical engineering entity to a valuable resource 
manager, a partner in local economic development, and an active member of the watershed 
community.  The District has taken numerous actions to shift traditional thinking about the way 
wastewater utilities are run towards the Utility of the Future (UoTF) model— fostering collective 
responsibility, supportive partnerships, and shared problem solving.   Organizational Culture At the 
heart of the District’s progress is an organizational culture that embraces positive change, empowering 
the workforce to imagine, create, test, and implement innovative approaches—from everyday work to 
extreme challenges.  Following the 2008 transition from Contract Operations to Owner Operations, the 
District designed and implemented an organizational model that builds on the successes of its public 
sector service and maintains the efficiencies of private-sector operations to deliver high-performing, 
award-winning service with some of the lowest sewer service rates in the San Francisco Bay Area.   

The District is a highly collaborative organization.  By fostering a relatively flat organizational structure, 
minimizing bureaucracy, and promoting employee empowerment, the District achieves a high degree of 
cooperation and partnership between departments to seek out the best overall solutions to shared 
challenges.   The District’s SuperGroup, a cross-departmental team consisting of both formal and 
informal leaders, holds monthly alignment meetings to ensure continuous improvement.  When 
questioned at a recent SuperGroup meeting, helpfulness, responsibility, creativity, and flexibility were 
recurring themes listed as core descriptors of the District workforce.   Employees in all departments are 
encouraged to find and fix inefficiencies.   

The District was recognized for this culture by the California Water Environment Association, earning an 
Engineering Achievement Award in 2014 for its Suisun-Central Pump Station Forcemain Equalization 
project.  This project was built upon a concept from a pump station mechanic.  Rather than spend $18 
million to expand an under-capacity pump station and forcemain, the District was able to optimize