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.
In last year’s Water Conservation Plan, the City of Williams Lake committed itself to following a three-step program for water conservation.
The Black Mountain Irrigation District (BMID) provides domestic water to 20,000 people and irrigation water to 4,100 acres of agriculture on the east benchlands of Kelowna. BMID draws from Mission Creek, which is the most significant creek feeding Okanagan Lake.
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.
Technology will transform the water utility workplace—from how utilities manage and use information to how they treat and monitor water. Understanding the nature of these changes and the appropriate use of technology can reduce costs, allow for better and quicker decision-making, and enable better management of increasingly complex information databases.
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.
The increasing pressure on water utilities to meet growing regulatory expectations is well known. Customers are also clamoring for utilities' attention, demanding service, safety, and taste, and creating pressure from a different direction. Utilities' primary competition is the bottled water industry because of a public perception of greater safety and better taste.
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.
In 2004, the City of Williams Lake undertook a major review of its water utility and associated management practices. The resulting documents—the “Williams Lake Water Conservation Plan” and the “Waterworks Bylaw”—identify water management and water conservation strategies that will protect and preserve our valuable water resource well into the future.
This article presents the findings of a Malcolm Pirnie Inc. 2004 national survey of 71 water utility industry experts, regarding their views on the future issues facing U.S. utilities. (While the survey was conducted in the U.S., many of the findings reflect the current and potential future states of the water industry in Canada.)