From the Morning Memo:

It’s a tale of two county water authorities.

J.D. Power released its third annual study measuring the satisfaction level of water utility customers. The Rochester region faired quite well.

In fact, the Monroe County Water Authority tied for first with the Boston Water and Sewer Commission in the Northeast region. Its score of 735 was well above the 709 average.

The Erie County Water Authority, on the other hand, scored a 669 – the third worst in the region.

ECWA in the past several months has made more headlines due to its reputation as a political patronage pit than for its actual service to customers. The board was accused of handing its executive director a lucrative severance package at the beginning of the year – a so-called Golden Parachute should he be pushed out by the new Democratic-controlled leadership team.

More recently, the authority was revealed to be withholding its final payments to Zeppelin Communications, the public relations firm with which it had a contract until earlier this month.

The board is questioning ZeppCom’s billing practice, while the company’s managing director, veteran GOP consultant Michael Caputo, (who’s not doing too badly in the headline-generating department himself, thanks to his ties to the 2016 Trump campaign), is threatening to sue.

Despite the slew of bad press, ECWA has insisted it is focused on its mission to provide safe, high-quality and affordable drinking water through reliable infrastructure to its customers.

But the results of this latest survey suggested it might not be doing a very good job of that. The poll looked at six main factors: delivery, price, conservation, billing and payment, communications, and customer service.

“While the mandated water quality reports produced by regional water authorities do a great job of measuring specific water quality issues, they are not telling the whole story when it comes to perceptions of the water that is coming out of customers’ faucets,” said Andrew Heath, senior director of the Utility Practice at J.D. Power.

“Whether it’s a serious problem like high lead or mineral counts, or a more subjective issue like bad taste or low pressure, a significant number of residential water utility customers are not happy with the product. Water utilities need to understand why customer views are not matching the views of the water utility and need to address these concerns.”

Across the nation, 88 utilities that deliver water to at least 400,000 people were measured. It is important to note that J.D. Power studies are based on entirely on customer opinions, so thanks to the slew of bad press, there could potentially be a bit of a chicken and egg situation in Erie County.