During the next quarter century, water utilities in North America will face a number of developments that will put pressure on their resources, spur them to develop alternative supplies, and necessitate new approaches to how they conduct business. This article in the August edition of the AWWA “Journal”, the second in a series, highlights two of these trends—population growth and climate change.
Water Use Planning
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.
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.
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.
Included in the November 2005 edition of the AWWA “Journal”, “Envisioning the future water utility” 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.)
According to 2004 B.C. Water Conservation Survey results, “most utilities appear to be quite forward thinking, as evidenced by the large number that employ multiple long-term planning tools. Overall, this focus on long-term planning coincides with the large number of utilities’ implementing performance measures in the near future.”
B.C.’s water purveyors are finding it increasingly difficult to supply the water needs of a growing population. When the effects of climate change, global warming, and an increase in the frequency and severity of drought occurrences are added, the situation becomes even more difficult. Water supply must be maintained even during times of drought. Developing new sources of water is often prohibitively expensive or is simply not possible. Therefore, to withstand the effects of drought, efforts must be made to conserve water resources that are currently being utilized.