Ontario Pipeline - Fall 2013 - (Page 6)
FROM THE PUBLICATIONS CHAIR
Embracing Social Media
s your Utility tweeting, are you telling your story through video posted on YouTube,
participating in a Water Discussion Forum on LinkedIn, or getting “Likes” on your
Facebook page? If you aren’t, then I expect you are planning for it. Utilities have
always had the need to communicate to stakeholders, and these social media tools
are just another way to get your message out.
Some Utilities have been reluctant to fully embrace social media for fear of loss of
productivity in the workplace. The answer to that is to ensure your organization has an
effective policy for responsible use of social media, such as developed by the AWWA (find
it @ www.owwa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/awwasocialmediaguidelinesfinal.pdf)
South of the border, the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA) states
that Utilities have embraced the use of social media in a variety of ways:
1. Keeping their community up to date. For example, notifications about construction,
ongoing projects, water main breaks, or other issues that could affect them.
2. Educating the public. This could include everything from an explanation of the
wastewater treatment process to an explanation of what is safe and not safe to flush
down the drain.
3. Providing customer service. One way in which social media is truly unique is that it
has removed barriers between customers and their providers.
4. Inviting public participation. Do you have an event the public is invited to attend?
Perhaps a meeting, an open-house plant tour, or a public-service event such as a
5. Showing the community what you are doing. Take pictures or video at the
plant, at the public-service event, at the meeting, so that you can show them
all the good that you do every day.
6. Explaining the reasons behind changes. Are ratepayers going to see an increase
in their bills in the near future? Is there a new green infrastructure project in the works?
Start early, and “chat” often.
The City of Calgary tweeted early and often with respect to the severe flooding they
experienced, and for many people this became a staple of their information gathering.
I was enjoying a pleasant cottage stay in the beautiful Kawartha Lakes when the floods
hit Toronto in July, but thanks to my trusty Twitter account I was up to date on what was
Recently I saw that the International Water Association is sponsoring a conference
dedicated solely to water and social media, so make no mistake about it — social media
is here to stay. It is up to us to ensure we use it responsibly to provide our customers and
stakeholders with timely and accurate information.
6 | O N T A R I O P I P E L I N E | FALL 2013
Vice President, Strategic Partnerships
Ontario Clean Water Agency
Chair, OWWA Publications Committee
ONE WAY IN
MEDIA IS TRULY
UNIQUE IS THAT
IT HAS REMOVED
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Ontario Pipeline - Fall 2013
From the Publications Chair
The OWWA Report
The OMWA Report
The OWWEA Report
From Our AWWA Director
Using Social Media to Enhance Water Effi ciency, Public Education and Outreach
Engaging Residents through Social Media
WaterISAC – An Essential Part of Your Water or Wastewater Utility’s Security and Emergency Preparedness Toolbox
Alliance for Water Effi ciency Helps Municipalities Develop Effective Water Conservation Programs
Don’t Flush … Your Drugs! Keep Our Source Waters Clean
Water Testing in the Field – Guatemala
Demystifying Prefabricated Valve Chambers
Ask the Board
Certifi cation Corner
Welcome New Members
Calendar of Events
OWWEA Member Listing
Index of Advertisers | Ad.com
Ontario Pipeline - Fall 2013