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Technology Study of Deltona Water confirms staffing issues, outdated technology

00:01  17 february  2020
00:01  17 february  2020 Source:   news-journalonline.com

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The issues identified with Deltona's water utility by a third party have come as no surprise to residents or officials.

A review of Deltona Water, the city-owned utility, confirmed what residents and officials had suspected were issues. [Gannett]© Gannett/News-Journal/The Daytona Beach News-Journal/TNS A review of Deltona Water, the city-owned utility, confirmed what residents and officials had suspected were issues. [Gannett]

Not enough staff, outdated technology and inefficient practices were the primary problems pointed out by KPMG, the auditing firm hired in October to study the city's utility and its methods.

While KPMG's observations weren't a surprise, residents and officials alike were happy to have them in writing from a third party.

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"It makes us feel more confident that we're addressing significant problems within Deltona Water," John Peters III, Deltona's director of public works and utilities, said by phone Friday.

Mayor Heidi Herzberg also wasn't taken aback by the findings.

"Staffing is an issue in most of our departments," Herzberg said. "That's concerning to me, but I'm not surprised by it."

Herzberg said prior to KPMG's review, Peters already had identified much of what the firm noted and had been making efforts to fix certain issues, such as outdated technology and billing practices.

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"Analog water meters and the use of paper-based processes for service orders inhibit the ability for faster, more reliable processes," KPMG's report states.

Peters plans to replace the current analog meters, which are read manually, with automatic meter-reading technology.

Third-party billing, which could go into effect in a few months, should make things much easier for residents, Herzberg said.

KPMG recommended switching to a third-party contractor instead of printing and processing bills in house.

The auditing firm also found that, compared to similar utilities, Deltona Water uses a high amount of chlorine in water treatment. KPMG recommended that the city evaluate the need to "free burn" the water system, which is a common practice used throughout the country to reduce bacteria.

Dana McCool, president of Deltona Strong, the grassroots group that pushed for an audit, said having KPMG confirm what residents have been saying over the years felt like a major accomplishment.

"The biggest takeaway is now the city has to take a closer look," McCool said.

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