Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2016 - (Page 12)

COVER FEATURE Strategic Planning for Water Utilities Continual planning and goal setting can aid in future success i BY FIONA SOLTES It's long been said that a goal without a plan is nothing more than a wish. And let's face it: Wishes alone are not going to bring large capital improvements, strengthen community relationships, or ensure regulations are being met. Anything that's outside the regular dayto-day grind will take planning and careful follow-through. So how is it done? A number of municipal water managers, directors of public utilities and others shared their best practices for goal setting and strategic plans. In these days of ever-tighter budgets, increased regulation and aging infrastructure, the advice might mean more than ever before. A sampling: Establish regular meetings-and don't be afraid to assign homework A couple of years ago, Steve Grimm, wastewater technician, New York Rural Water Association, went through a comprehensive performance evaluation on a wastewater treatment facility. The process uncovered both financial and operational performance-limiting factors. Grimm sits on a wastewater infrastructure 12 FIRST QUARTER 2016 subcommittee with the state's wastewater primacy agency, the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and other stakeholders. DEC had just begun working on mandatory asset management for wastewater facilities, and Grimm saw it as an opportunity to utilize the "Workshop in a Box: Sustainable Management of Rural and Small Systems Workshops" and other resources. Grimm put together a committee including himself, the town supervisor, the secretary to the supervisor, a sewer board member, chief operations specialist and three public members (two of which were in the sewer district, and the other in environmental engineering). The group held meetings once a month for no more than two hours each. At the first gathering, Grimm passed out sustainable management materials and was clear about expectations. "I gave them homework assignments," he said. "I told them, 'Don't put your heads together. I want everybody's individual opinions on these key management areas.' That was the only way we would get a true measure of where the system was." The results of the homework were presented at the following meeting, "and it was a nice, lively discussion." The group went on to develop a master plan, name three areas of focus-financial viability, infrastructure stability and product quality-set realistic goals, and finally held a well-attended public informational meeting. And because each member- especially the public ones-had continued to do individual work, they had a different level of ownership in the outcome, and their professional presentations and personal knowledge impressed the populace. Several measures are now in the process of implementation. Seek outside input from regulators, accountants, consultants and others A few months after becoming general manager and CEO of Del-Co Water Company, Inc., Glenn Marzluf, PE, began working with an outside consultant to develop a strategic plan. As his predecessor at the Ohio company had been in the role for more than 25 years, the board drove the effort in an attempt to "reconnect and make sure they were providing proper governance to the organization." The experience made a substantial difference, he said, and helped

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2016

Strategic Planning for Water Utilities
Planning for Drought
A Rally to Remember
The 17th Annual Great American Water Taste Test
USDA Rural Development Has Loans
Rural Water Association of Utah Launches Successful Training Program
Vermont Rural Water Association Continues Training; Plans More for 2016
From the President
Finance: Investing Without Borders
Emergency Management: Decontamination Strategy for the Water Sector
A Day in the Life of a Circuit Rider: Dell R. Harris, Kentucky Rural Water Association
Case Study: Bubble Diffusers
Regulatory Update
Throwing My Loop
Index to Advertisers/
From The CEO

Rural Water - Quarter 1, 2016