New Louisville Water Co. President Discusses Possible Future Working With MSD

The Louisville Water Company has selected a new leader as the utility continues its exploration of a possible merger with the Metropolitan Sewer District.

Jim Brammell was unanimously named the water company’s chief executive  on Thursday. His predecessor Greg Heitzman was appointed in May to lead the Metropolitan Sewer District.

MSD was slammed last year in an audit that pointed to managerial issues under its previous leadership.

Since those issues were revealed, Mayor Greg Fischer has suggested what he called a “One Water concept,” which would call for more coordination between the two utilities. 

Or maybe even merger.

Brammell told WFPL that merger or cooperation is a distinct possibility.

“We both have HRs departments, we both have engineering departments, we both have legal departments,” Brammell said. “So I just have to feel like there are opportunities where we can work together and do things more efficiently.”

A study looking into how the water company and MSD can cooperate is expected to be complete this fall.

Brammell said another challenge the water company faces is a drop in customers’ water consumption caused by more efficient appliances. He says that’s being addressed in part through agreements in which the water company essentially sells water to nearby utilities that need more water. 

Brammell has worked for the Louisville Water Company since 1995. His last served as vice president of operations and chief engineer.

Here are some more of his comments to WFPL:

On his background:

“I think I’ve worked in eight different areas. I’ve been in pipeline engineering, I’ve been in plant engineering. I had several years where I was director of distribution engineering—that’s basically managing a large workforce of union employees who go out and actually fix main breaks and install pipe. So I’ve had just a diverse background in the company.”

On possibly merging with MSD:

“I foresee that there will be a future between the two organizations. What form that will take is something we’re in the process of trying to determine now. We’re going through a due diligence process.”

“Basically, we’re trying to evaluate what are the organizational structures that we could establish and which ones would be most effective to join the two organizations.”

On consumption, revenues, etc.:

“Because appliances in the home are becoming much more water efficient, individuals are using much less water. Well, that decreases the revenue available to us. But yet in utility like the water company, our costs are highly fixed—or the majority of our costs are fixed. So the real challenge is trying to operate as efficiently as possible and try to ensure we are providing the highest quality water exceeding regulatory expectations while keeping rates low. Just given the budget pressures, that’s a challenge we’re facing.”

More on consumption, revenues, etc.:

For Louisville Water Co., that’s revenue. But we have an abundance of water and we have regional water suppliers surrounding us who don’t have that abundance. So we’ve got the opportunity to construct the infrastructure to sell them surplus, excess water. We can share the abundance of the Ohio River with regional partners. So that’s a win-win.”

In a statement, Mayor Greg Fischer said: “Jim has deep knowledge of the water company and he will continue the tradition of excellence that is embedded in the culture. He also has been a key member of the team examining the One Water concept. That experience is valuable as we look to develop a more coordinated and sustainable future for the water systems in Louisville. I look forward to working with Jim and Greg Heitzman to begin the process of consolidation to create an efficient and effective One Water for all the citizens of Louisville.”

Joseph Lord

Joseph Lord is the online managing editor for WFPL.

@joseph_Lord

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