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  Water Works

by Judd Bradbury, 10/27/06

The City of Dallas Water Department is currently going through a renaissance that will benefit the entire City of Dallas.  Under the leadership of Jody Puckett, the water department has recently undertaken a series of improvement projects to revamp the city?s archaic water billing infrastructure.

For years IT leadership, community activists, city department heads and council members have noted their discomfort with the continually aging information system used for a large amount of revenue flowing into the city. The city currently relies on manual water meters that must be reviewed by a field employee every month to record water usage.  After usage is calculated, the figures are then fed into an aging IBM mainframe computer that provides billing for approximately $550 million dollars of revenue each year.  

In recent months, on several occasions, the existing system has failed, delaying billing and the benefits of the cash flow that it provides.

To meet these impending needs, the water department has been rolling out automated water meters in the central business district.  These water meters read water usage levels automatically by driving a specialized truck down the street, reducing the costs of reading the meters.  

Another improvement project seeks replacement of the mainframe billing system with modern client server software provided by SAP. The SAP software platform is currently used in 90% of the Fortune 500 companies and a long list of municipal governments, including the City of San Antonio, Tarrant County and Collin County. 

The most inspiring thing about Ms. Puckett?s leadership is illustrated with her recent comments to the Finance and Audit Committee.  ?I am professionally and PERSONALLY committed to completing this project?.  Having worked with more half-hearted private sector directors than I care to count, her commitment is heartening. 

Ms. Puckett has charted a new course for the water department that is worthy of our praise. The Commission on Productivity & Innovation is supporting the agenda item that was approved unanimously by the city council this week. The systems implementation project is scheduled to begin in the next couple of months.





  Ward politics is the Devil's key to the soul of the city council.  It is how some council members got themselves in trouble in the past.  It is the bait that will get others in trouble in the future. 4/6/8