Water associations, EPA release effective utility management practices report

May 11, 2007
Six associations representing the U.S. water and wastewater sector in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announce the release of Findings and Recommendations for a Water Utility Sector Management Strategy. Designed to advance effective utility management practices, the report culminates a 12-month effort focused on excellence in water and wastewater utility management. The release of the report is accompanied by a statement of support...

ALEXANDRIA, VA, May 8, 2007, -- Six associations representing the U.S. water and wastewater sector in collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announce the release of Findings and Recommendations for a Water Utility Sector Management Strategy. Designed to advance effective utility management practices, the report culminates a 12-month effort focused on excellence in water and wastewater utility management. The release of the report is accompanied by a statement of support and an action list from the collaborating organizations as well as a fact sheet for utility managers.

"This initiative is an historic step forward in strengthening our partnership with the associations and the utilities they represent," said Benjamin H. Grumbles the Assistant Administrator for EPA's Office of Water. "This continuing partnership will allow us to take a major step forward to recognize, reward and measure excellence in utility management to ensure that utility operations and infrastructure are sustainable. EPA looks forward to working with our partners to implement the recommendations put forward in this report."

Formalized in a joint Statement of Intent last May, the Effective Utility Management Collaborating Organizations - the American Public Works Association (APWA), American Water Works Association (AWWA), Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and EPA - appointed a steering committee of sixteen water utility leaders from across the country to develop recommendations for a joint water utility sector management strategy applicable to water, wastewater and combined water/wastewater utilities.

"Our utilities have a history of innovation and initiative," noted WEF Executive Director Bill Bertera. "Sharing insights gained is especially important now when we need policymakers and ratepayers to make water infrastructure a higher priority."

With input from two focus groups, the steering committee identified common challenges facing the water sector and explored barriers that can limit utilities from making management improvements. According to APWA Executive Director Peter B. King, the "single biggest challenge for public works professionals is sustaining infrastructure performance" adding that learning more about the challenges and barriers facing utilities "will help us more effectively promote innovative approaches to reduce costs and improve performance across utility operations."

The report's findings and recommendations, "provide excellent guidance for optimizing water system management," said AMWA Executive Director Diane VanDe Hei. They include the definition of ten attributes of effectively managed utilities and keys to management success; developing a management "tool box" of training and other resources for interested utilities; and suggested sample performance measures to improve utility management across the sector.

The overall effort said NACWA Executive Director Ken Kirk has been productive and "underscores our industry's commitment to continuously improve the way we manage our nation's water and wastewater resources". AWWA Executive Director Jack Hoffbuhr concurred and stressed that his organization would continue "its longstanding commitment to water providers by working with EPA and the other associations to extend this important work".

Recommended next steps for the group include rolling out the strategy to the water industry; preparing a brief, stand-alone primer for water sector utility managers; continuing the collaboration among the seven organizations; and employing a continual improvement approach to the strategy's implementation over time.

The announcement of the report's release was made today by EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson during the 2007 National Clean Water Policy Forum in Washington, DC. A joint effort between WEF and NACWA, the three-day event brings together elected and appointed U.S. officials, government employees and water quality experts to discuss recent trends in U.S. environmental policy, legislation and regulation.

The complete report is available on each of the association's Web sites including:
AMWA at www.amwa.net
APWA at www.apwa.net
AWWA at www.awwa.org
NACWA at www.nacwa.org
NAWC at www.nawc.org
WEF at www.wef.org

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