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Water utilities across the country face common challenges - whether it is aging infrastructure, rising operating costs, high customer expectations, or a retiring workforce – and industry professionals are well aware that the “way we’ve always done it” may not have been our best approach.

 

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently published Moving Toward Sustainability: Sustainable and Effective Practices for Creating Your Own Water Utility Roadmap to assist utilities with implementing proven practices over time that address these common challenges at a pace consistent with the needs of the utility and the community it serves. The distinguishing quality of this document is its flexibility; it does not provide one roadmap for all utilities to follow, rather it guides utilities to create a roadmap based on their own specific needs.

 

Based on the Ten Attributes of Effective Utility Management (EUM), the document provides input from federal, state, and local stakeholders.  Practical examples are provided throughout the document to help determine the utility’s current level of sustainability and are intended to give utility managers a sense of where to begin with creating their roadmap.  This resource takes each of the ten attributes of effective utility management and breaks them down based on three business levels:  Level 1 – Providing Adequate, Fundamental Services; Level 2 – Optimizing Operations and Services; and Level 3 – Transforming Operations and Services for the Future.

 

“This document will give an important boost to help move the water treatment industry toward greater sustainability and enhance the sustainability of communities as well,” said Dan Roberts, P.E., APWA member and Director of the Utilities Department for the City of Palm Bay, Florida.  Mr. Roberts also served as a member of the EPA’s industry Steering Group that provided input for the document.

Mr. Roberts went on to say: “EUM is the key to sustainability, and EPA’s Roadmap document can be used by any size utility operating at any business level to improve EUM and thus community sustainability.”

 

As a service provider to the community, we should never be satisfied with “adequate” service, we should continually strive to improve and enhance our operations and services so that we will be able to thrive well into the future. Utilities can benefit from the practices described in this document by: saving money through optimization, providing better protection to the environment by consistently meeting regulatory requirements, recruiting and retaining a workforce to ensure sustainable operations, using energy and water efficient practices and technologies effectively, and building greater understanding and support from stakeholders.

 

To learn more about water infrastructure and moving toward sustainability visit:  http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/sustain/

 

[Guest blogger:  Julie Lemons, Utilities Outreach Coordinator, Palm Bay, Florida.]

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The Water Research Foundation (WRF) recently release a set of tools based upon the Effective Utility Management project.  The Effective Utility Management Collaboration has developed a series of tools designed to help water and wastewater utilities advance effective utility management practices. The new tools are designed to simplify the Findings and Recommendations for a Water Utility Sector Management Strategy and make the recommendations easier for utility managers to understand and implement at their facilities. Each of the new tools are organized around the 10 Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities and the 5 Keys to Management Success identified in the Findings and Recommendations for a Water Utility Sector Management Strategy that was released in May 2007.

 

The WRF project identified best practices and metrics used by water (water and wastewater) utilities to support each of the ten attributes of effectively managed water utilities; developed and documented a framework and methodology for utilities to evaluate the attributes; and created an Excel-based tool that they can use to conduct a self-assessment for internal performance benchmarking. For each of the ten attributes, the tool helps a utility identify areas where it can undertake activity to improve its performance. Performance measures are defined so that utilities can track their progress in achieving performance goals in areas they define as high priority. The tool allows utilities to track both the level of performance achieved and the degree of implementation within their organizations for each performance measure.

 

Within each practice area, at least one performance measure is defined so that utilities can track their progress in achieving performance goals in areas they define as high priority. The tool allows utilities to track both the level of performance achieved and the degree of implementation within their organizations for each performance measure. 

 

To read the Performance Benchmarking for Effectively Managed Utilities click here.

To access the Recommended Approach for Conducting a Self-Assessment Using the Effective Utility Management Framework click here