Scenario planning: A tool to manage future water utility uncertainty

Posted January 2006

By Ed Means, Roger Patrick, Lorena Ospina, and Nicole West

This article, from the October 2005 edition of the AWWA Journal, takes a timely look at Scenario planning: A tool to manage future water utility uncertainty. This powerful tool 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.

This article presents five scenarios that were discussed at a 2002 AWWA Research Foundation workshop in which participants evaluated societal, business, and utility trends and used scenario planning to craft a water utility strategy for future success. A complete scenario regarding global warming is presented in the article, along with four condensed scenarios dealing with how utilities will assimilate developing technology, the effects of changes in the population on demands exerted on utilities, the development of creative partnering and regionalization, and water utility response to catastrophic events.

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