DC Water: Water is Life

17 Pages Posted: 12 Apr 2018

See all articles by Peter Marcel Debaere

Peter Marcel Debaere

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business; Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

George Hawkins

DCWater

Abstract

This case is used in Darden's "Economics of Water" elective.It was spring 2009, and George Hawkins had only recently taken the position of CEO and general manager of DC Water. He was trying to turn around the public institution overseeing the failing infrastructure of Washington, DC. He had a conviction that urban living (with a high concentration of people in one location) was one way to build sustainable societies with low energy, water, and carbon footprints. As CEO of a major water and water-treatment company, he wanted to make sustainable societies possible and to help people think about water and wastewater in a more holistic way. By 2017, DC Water would be raking in awards, and Hawkins would be trying to answer some popular questions wherever he spoke, such as "How did you manage?," and "What could the water industry as a whole learn from your experience?" It was an open question whether DC Water's success could be replicated, or whether it was specific to DC Water's particular circumstances.

Excerpt

UVA-GEM-0151

Mar. 26, 2018

DC Water: Water is Life

It was the spring of 2009, and George Hawkins had only recently taken the position of CEO and general manager of DC Water. Hawkins drove his Chevy Volt to Constitution Avenue and witnessed a spectacle that he would vividly recount at many public speaking events. A water main had just broken—one of many that year—and water was inundating the National Mall. Hawkins could not help but wonder whether he had made the right decision to try to turn around the public institution overseeing this failing infrastructure. Hawkins had been a somewhat unusual choice for the CEO position. A lawyer by training, he had been active in many nonprofits with an environmental bent. He came to Washington, DC (DC), as director of the Department of Energy and the Environment, in which capacity he had regulated his current employer. What had attracted him to running DC's Water and Sewer Authority (DCWASA) was a conviction that urban living (with a high concentration of people in one location) was one way to build sustainable societies with low energy, water, and carbon footprints. As CEO of a major water and water-treatment company, he wanted to make sustainable societies possible and to help people think about water and wastewater in a more holistic way. As he saw the water fill downtown DC, it was hard for Hawkins to anticipate that by 2017, DC Water would be raking in awards, receiving the 2017 Award for Excellence in Government Finance, the 2016 US Water Prize from the US Water Alliance for its , the 2016 ENR (Engineering News-Record) Project of the Year Award for the Blue Plains Tunnel project, the 2014 Platinum Award by the National Biosolids Partnership for biosolids management, and the 2014 Fuller Award by the American Water Works Association (AWWA), to name just a few. Furthermore, it was not self-evident in 2009 that some of the most popular questions Hawkins would be answering wherever he spoke in 2017 would be “How did you manage?,” and “What could the water industry as a whole learn from your experience?” It was an open question whether DCWater's success could be replicated, or whether it was very specific to DC Water's circumstances.

. . .

Keywords: water, infrastructure, Washington DC, water treatment, DC Water, water legislation, Environmental Protection Agency, environment, sustainability, public infrastructure

Suggested Citation

Debaere, Peter Marcel and Hawkins, George, DC Water: Water is Life. Darden Case No. UVA-GEM-0151, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3159655

Peter Marcel Debaere (Contact Author)

University of Virginia - Darden School of Business ( email )

P.O. Box 6550
Charlottesville, VA 22906-6550
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.darden.virginia.edu/html/direc_detail.aspx?styleid=2&id=5794

Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR)

London
United Kingdom

George Hawkins

DCWater

5000 Overlook Avenue, SW
Washington, DC 20032
United States

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