Effective Water Utility Management Practices
Effective utility management practices are the foundation for building and sustaining the technical, managerial, and financial capacity of the drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater systems that make up the water sector. Management practices must address all aspects of a system’s operations and maintenance.
Effective Utility Management (EUM) Initiative - This initiative takes a broad look at all aspects of water sector system sustainability, from product quality to customer satisfaction. It is supported through the collaboration of EPA and professional associations across the water sector. The initiative is based on:
- Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Water Sector Utilities Exit
- Effective Utility Management Primer (PDF) (52 pp, 3.5MB, About PDF) - Provides a common framework for water sector systems to assess their strengths and areas for improvement, set priorities, and measure progress through a process of continual improvement leading to long-term sustainability.
Taking the Next Step: Findings of the Effective Utility Management Review Steering Group - This report was done by the Steering Group for the EUM collaborating organizations and presents the findings of its review of the current EUM Attributes. The Steering Group identified key areas of change in the water sector since 2007.
Safe Drinking Water Act’s (SDWA) Capacity Development Program - This state program emphasizes assisting public water systems in acquiring and maintaining their technical, financial, and managerial capacity to plan for, achieve, and continually provide safe drinking water and ensure long-term sustainability.
Moving Toward Sustainability: Sustainable and Effective Practices for Creating Your Own Water Utility Roadmap - This document builds on the EUM framework. It provides utilities of various sizes with a series of proven and effective practices to help achieve the outcomes in EUM. This document supplements the EUM approach and was developed with input from utility managers across the country.
EPA held several webinars to highlight the efforts of leading utilities to implement “Roadmap” practices:
- Moving Toward Sustainability Webinar 1 (Community Sustainability)
- Moving Toward Sustainability Webinar 2 (Operational Resiliency)
- Moving Toward Sustainability Webinar 3 Stakeholder Understanding and Support)
- From Aspirational to Operational: Sustainable and Effective Practices for Creating Your Water Utility Roadmap
Another set of tools is the use of Lean techniques. Lean is a business improvement approach focused on eliminating non-value added activity or "waste" using practical, implementation-based methods. Lean can help utilities achieve the outcomes embodied in the EUM Attributes.
- Resource Guide to Effective Utility Management and Lean is based on input and examples from several utilities involved in both EUM and Lean. The guide explains how these two complementary approaches can be used by utilities to reduce waste and improve overall efficiency and effectiveness.
- Effective Utility Management and Lean at Water-Sector Utilities - EPA webinar.
EPA and its partners work in several areas that support sustainability of water sector systems, including helping systems and communities address climate adaptation and resiliency related challenges: