City Manager Teresa Wilson has announced a new leadership team for Columbia Water, which includes the Department of Utility Operations, the Department of Engineering and the Customer Care Division. The members of the new leadership team are:
Assistant City Manager of Columbia Water Clint Shealy; Director of Utility Operations Joey Jaco; Director of Engineering Dana Higgins and Customer Care Administrator Angela Adams.
These individuals collectively have a wealth of knowledge, expertise and experience that will be utilized to take the City of Columbia’s water, utility, engineering and customer care operations to a new level of excellence.
“We are now ready to embark on a new journey toward elevating not only our water operations and its infrastructure, but also all of the vital resources in our city that are impacted by Columbia Water,” City Manager Teresa Wilson said.
Over the last year, the City of Columbia has been identifying and addressing challenges, while also developing a plan of action for the vast system that provides water and sewer service to approximately 375,000 people. Quality water and effective customer service have been focus areas and will continue to be first and foremost.
“These personnel decisions have been made with an extreme amount of evaluation and assessment over the past few months. The identification of a new leadership team has been a primary focus for me, while I have also been working diligently with City staff to manage our daily operations. It is with much confidence that I now share this information with our citizens and customers who we value highly,” Wilson said.
This important announcement comes almost six months after the unveiling of Envision Columbia, the City’s new vision statement and strategic plan.
After initiating a search for a new assistant city manager, Wilson shared that she found the leader she needed among the City’s team. “After dealing with some recent challenges, it became evident to me that the leadership needed for a new assistant city manager was already on board,” Wilson said.
Wilson also commented, “This is the first significant hiring decision that I have made since the adoption of our new vision for the City and it is very appropriate because the strong foundation of Columbia’s water system will impact the future of our city for decades to come.” Envision Columbia was launched in January 2017.
The new roles for the members of the leadership team were effective as of July 1, 2017. This team will move forward with the implementation of new branding for the City’s water utilities: Columbia Water. The new brand is meant to unify the three water utilities, drinking water, wastewater and stormwater, under one main umbrella with an eye toward an improved customer service experience.
“We want to demonstrate that we are customer-friendly and that we are living up to our core values of transparency, accountability and integrity,” said Shealy. “We want to be efficient in our operations, using effective methods to meet our key performance indicators and responsive to all of our customers.”
This announcement also follows the recent approval of the City of Columbia’s new budget for fiscal year 2017-2018. Part of the budget included an increase in water rates for all customers and stormwater fees for customers inside City limits. Over the next year, those increases will fund $40 million in improvements to the drinking water system and $80 million toward wastewater system improvements, as well as $93 million to the stormwater system over the next five years. The goal with these projects is to replace aging infrastructure and expand and modernize systems that have been impacted by increased demand.
“We have important projects ahead of us, but I am confident that this highly qualified group of employees will be more than capable of using their collective areas of expertise to take our city into the future,” Wilson stated.