2009 Platinum Award for Utility Excellence

Winners of the 2009 AMWA Platinum Awards for Utility Excellence were:

  • City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management
  • Charleston Water System
  • Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
  • Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department
  • Orlando Utilities Commission
  • City of Santa Rosa Utilities Department

The strategic plan at the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (DWM) is based on the Balanced Scorecard approach, which is predicated on an environmental scan. The plan is long-term and comprehensive, as are other planning initiatives including its master plan, financial plan, capital improvement plan and regional plans. DWM has instilled a culture of continual improvement and accountability. Virtually all business processes and functions have been re-engineered and standard operating procedures, reports and controls have been documented for each one. Asset management programs, as well as commitment to employee and community involvement, round out the Department’s approach to industry leadership.

Charleston Water System manages the majority of regulatory requirements through an Environmental Management System and continually improves operational efficiency using industry benchmark performance indicators. Key elements used for continuous improvement include: certification under the ISO 14001 Standard for Environmental Management; Plan-Do-Check-Act methods coupled with problem solving techniques; systems for aligning employee performance goals with the strategic plan and providing associated pay incentives; a measurement and tracking system; statistical process control techniques to ensure the highest water quality; and workforce development systems for employee learning and development.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California continues to be resilient in the face of difficult economic conditions, drought and regulatory restrictions. Achievements include: managing capital projects that provide supply and delivery reliability and ensure water quality and stewardship; reinvesting a record amount in rehabilitation and repair of existing infrastructure; making continuous improvements in all aspects of its business to operate optimally; proactively maintaining emergency response and business continuity programs; developing a high performance workforce; and implementing “green” initiatives, including energy management, waste reduction and conservation incentives totaling $223 million.

Management achievements at Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department include a “Governing for Results” ordinance that codifies the general principles of strategic planning, business planning and performance measurement. The utility has also deployed an Active Strategy Enterprise performance management tool and the Sterling Performance Excellence Improvement Model to assist with continuous improvements and implemented an efficiency recognition program. Comprehensive customer satisfaction surveys were conducted, approval of an annual Consumer Price Index rate increase was achieved, and automated meter reading was implemented. The Department also reorganized to optimize operations and implemented a water use efficiency plan.

To ensure that it continues to provide high quality water for future generations, the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) navigates issues ranging from resource conservation and the development of alternative water sources, to advanced treatment requirements and the challenge of falling revenues, rising expenses and mounting capital demands. OUC managers and support staff use integrated strategic business planning, metrics and customer feedback to guide decisions that maximize its financial resources and produce a sustainable flow of high quality, affordable water while achieving customer satisfaction. OUC water utility employees are customer-focused teams, utilizing advanced GIS mapping integrated with real-time field data.

Through the use of strategic planning and by embracing the approaches identified in Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities, the City of Santa Rosa Utilities Department made innovative and proactive decisions to position itself to continue to economically provide high quality water and service to its customers for years to come. It implemented a Department-wide steering team to guide its strategic direction, conducted a city-wide reorganization of its engineering services to create a dedicated asset management section, invested in technology developments to integrate GID and CMMS systems, and obtained new field equipment to enhance efficiencies and productivity of its field operations.