Streamline - Fall 2012 - (Page 13)
The Necessary Evolution of Water and Wastewater Utilities
BY KENNY REYNOLDS, VRWA WATER CIRCUIT RIDER I
OVER THE YEARS,
Effective communications between management and their employees often lead to smoother implementation of changes. Also, during these communications, staff may have suggestions that will make these changes even more successful.
numerous changes have made it necessary for water and wastewater utilities to adapt to be successful. Years ago, in our industry, we often saw changes as a simple new rule, but presently these changes often come in the form of a complex program. A quote I saw once stated, “The only one who likes change is a wet baby.” Another quote was, “No one is against change, unless they are the one who must change.” Successful change is the only constant for a utility’s survival. infrastructure lasts forever and due to inflation, these upgrades or replacement won’t be cheap. In the near future, utilities will be hearing more about a Sustainability Dashboard Program being developed by National Rural Water Association that will be used to develop proper water and wastewater rates. As utilities, we have often operated our systems at a break even service for our customers. Hopefully, we have learned that we must operate as a sustainable business that provides a valuable service to our customers. Water and wastewater utility operations have become more complex due to new rules and regulations. This means that the staff you have operating your plant or distribution system today are no longer the employees of the past. Plant staff is required to be state licensed at the appropriate level of the system they operate based on Virginia Department of Health/Office of Drinking Water or Department of Environmental Quality requirements. These professionals are also required to maintain these licenses by attending classes for continuing professional education or “CPEs”. This continued training is necessary to keep these employees abreast of new rules and regulations, and help them become a better asset for the utility. Just as in plant operations, the water and wastewater distribution systems staff often has certifications. They may have distribution certifications for water and/or wastewater systems, Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) Basic or Intermediate Work Zone Safety certification and flagging certification. All utility staff must comply with Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) programs and regulations. Some of these programs are confined
The key to successful change is, “Don’t fight it – embrace it.” Too often as management we don’t explain why these changes must be made to our most valuable assets – our employees. Effective communications between management and their employees often lead to smoother implementation of changes. Also, during these communications, staff may have suggestions that will make these changes even more successful. For older water and wastewater systems, the infrastructure has begun to show the need for updates or replacement. In past years, often no thought was given to setting aside the necessary funds that would be needed to complete these upgrades. Presently, state and federal grant money is limited, and loan/grant money may be difficult to obtain due to meeting necessary requirements. Thus comes one of the most difficult changes water and wastewater utilities must consider to be successful: rate increases. Successful utilities have made small and gradual rate increases and set aside funds to meet future needs of their system. These increases were used to keep up with future day-to-day operational expenses, unexpected maintenance requirements and capital funds for infrastructure updates or replacement. A valuable tool to use in preparing for the future is a program called asset management. This involves a utility listing and mapping all their assets, the age of the asset, the life expectancy and the future replacement cost of the asset. This process helps utility management be better informed when preparing a budget and looking at future capital improvements and infrastructure needs. Remember, none of our
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Fall 2012
From the President
From the Executive Director
A Day ( or Two) in the Life of a Circuit Rider
The Necessary Evolution of Water and Wasterwater Utilities
Craig-New Castle PSA: One Small System's Giant Leap into the Future
Poor planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on our part
Extra Highlights from 2012 VRWA Conference
Virginia Department of Transportation Work Zone Traffic Control Update
FOG (Fat, Oil and Grease): Sewer Public Enemy No.1
The Inspector Found What?
Ergs, Joules & Such
Understanding your Job as a Board or Council Member?
Throwing My Loop
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefits Are?
Welcoming New Members
Board Of Directors
Index to Advertisers/Ad.com
Streamline - Fall 2012