Naramata residents have seen considerable activity on their water system since construction began in February. Work is well underway on two contracts.
Water is a precious thing. Williams Lake is blessed with an abundant source of fresh, clean water that’s relatively easy to extract and distribute. Unfortunately, like any good thing, our water supply is not infinite. During the past two years, the City of Williams Lake has worked hard to determine just how much water there is, and how to best manage it to ensure adequate supplies for future generations.
There are three areas that utilities should address to improve their financial strength: financial planning and management, effective pricing, and affordability. This article discusses these areas, as well as their benefit and importance in encouraging effective planning and preparation for utilities to meet future challenges.
Industry studies in recent years have raised awareness of the magnitude of asset renewal and replacement needs in the water industry, but little comparative work has been done on asset management. To help fill this gap, the AWWA Research Foundation sponsored the study summarized in this article.
Faced by the need to repair and replace aging infrastructure and at the same time build new systems to meet population growth, water utilities must make increasingly complex decisions about where, when, and how to invest their capital improvement dollars. What's more, their decisions must involve a range of stakeholders and win their “buy-in” in order for projects to receive necessary financial and community support.
Most water utility managers don’t classify public outreach as an integral part of utility management. But, that’s an “unfortunate attitude because experience clearly demonstrates the value of devoting public outreach resources on major issues and projects early on instead of after the fact.”
It has been suggested recently that water and sewage utilities move to “full-cost” accounting as a means of addressing some of the challenges facing them. However, there are disagreements regarding how to implement this concept, and few estimates exist that show the impact of such a change.
All utilities at one time or another find it necessary to upgrade facilities and expand capacity, especially as water and wastewater service needs continue to increase with the demands of growing populations. As utilities undertake such projects, engineers and operators enter a world of old records, manuals, and drawings—often stored in a confusing disarray—looking for information to help make a project more efficient and therefore more cost-effective.
The authors provide an overview of the top ten water utility future trends identified through an assessment of the literature, interviews with public water supply community leaders, and a futures workshop featuring futurists and scenario planning exercises.
Scenario planning is a powerful tool that can be used by strategic planners to frame the future, and is useful in guiding representatives of the public water supply community when planning for future uncertainty.