Matthew M. (Matt) Neely, an employee of the Jane Lew Public Service District (PSD), has won the West Virginia Rural Water Association’s Distribution System Operator of the Year Award for 2017.
This award is granted to municipal or PSD employees who, among other WVRWA criteria, initiate programs to reduce operation and maintenance costs and increase efficiency, demonstrate commitment to lifelong learning, to excellence in record keeping, and show a consistent and outstanding contribution to system maintenance thereby prolonging the useful life of equipment.
West Virginia has over 1000 distribution system operators, all of whom might, theoretically, have won this singular award.
Neely has been a Jane Lew PSD employee since Jan. 3, 2014. His responsibility is to take care of the district’s purchased water and the water distribution system, or 22.8 miles of pipeline. Among other tasks he maintains and routinely exercises 148 valves, flushes 57 fire hydrants, and takes and reports water samples.
All of this he does in a timely fashion, following industry protocols and keeping records of all preventive maintenance completed.
However, above all other things Matt Neely hunts down leaks. Unaccounted water loss (leaks and theft) cannot be billed as usage, so is a total financial loss for a system. The industry standard for unaccounted water loss is 15 percent.
Neely’s personal goal is to keep it in the single digits, so he continuously searches, repairs and keeps records of found leaks. From December, 2016, through July, the Jane Lew PSD’s actual (not estimated) monthly water loss has run as follows: 9 percent, 4 percent, 6 percent, 5 percent, 9 percent, 9 percent, 7 percent, and 10 percent. There can be no question that Neely work has been successful.
The letter of nomination for Matt Neely to receive this award states:
Since Neely has been the Chief Water Operations Specialist at Jane Lew PSD, he has made the distribution system so efficient it should be a model for all systems in the state and the nation to follow.
The General Manager and the Board of the Jane Lew PSD could not be more pleased with his success.