Effective Utility Management

In 2007 AMWA joined with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other water and public works organizations – collectively known as the “Collaborating Organizations” – to jointly promote Effective Utility Management (EUM) using a management framework based on the Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Water Sector Utilities and Keys to Management Success. Since then, EUM has become a widely accepted and widely used utility management approach throughout the water sector.

2016 EUM Update

Changes to the water utility operating context in recent years have brought about new challenges and opportunities for the nation’s water systems.  In light of these changes, the original Collaborating Organizations joined with two state regulatory groups to commission a panel of utility executives and state regulatory representatives to review the existing EUM Attributes and Keys to Management Success and identify suggested modifications.   The review panel issued its recommendations to update EUM in February 2016.

Following release of the updated EUM, the Collaborating Organizations called on a new utility leadership group to revise the “how-to” document, Effective Utility Management: A Primer for Water and Wastewater Utilities, to reflect the 2016 EUM refinements.  The new Primer will help water utilities meet the challenges of aging infrastructure, rapidly evolving technology, enhanced customer expectations, rising costs and affordability, and ongoing regulatory requirements. It also comes with an expanded implementation guide that walks sector leaders through the creation of a unique improvement plan.

Additional EUM Tools

In 2014, EPA published a sustainability roadmap document entitled Moving Toward Sustainability: Effective and Sustainable Practices for Creating Your Water Utility Roadmap. The document provides utilities of various sizes with a series of proven and effective practices that can help them move toward sustainability over time at a pace consistent with their needs and the needs of the communities they serve.  Developed with extensive input from utility managers across the country, this document is an important supplement to the tools available to the EUM approach.

In 2008, the EUM Collaborating Organizations released tools designed to help water and wastewater utilities advance effective management practices to achieve long-term sustainability. The tools are based on the 10 Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities and five Keys to Management Success and include an online Resource Toolbox that contains links to key resources and tools, including an interactive tool for using the EUM Primer.

Effective Water and Wastewater Utility Management Case Studies, a companion document to the EUM Primer, provides concrete examples and “how to” assistance for utility managers through profiles of four utilities that successfully applied the Primer concepts and tools to advance effective management practices and achieve long-term sustainability.

Origins of EUM

In 2006, the original EUM Collaborating Organizations – the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies (AMWA), American Water Works Association (AWWA), American Public Works Association (APWA), National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), National Association of Water Companies (NAWC), the Water Environment Federation (WEF) and U.S. EPA – appointed a steering committee of 16 water utility leaders from across the country to develop recommendations for a joint water utility sector management strategy applicable to water, wastewater and combined water/wastewater utilities.

The steering committee identified common challenges facing the water sector and explored barriers that can limit utilities from making management improvements. The report’s findings and recommendations include the definition of ten attributes of effectively managed utilities and keys to management success; developing a management tool box of training and other resources for interested utilities; and suggested sample performance measures to improve utility management across the sector.

On May 8, 2007, the Collaborating Organizations released the Findings and Recommendations for a Water Utility Sector Management Strategy. Designed to advance effective utility management practices, the report culminated a 12-month effort focused on excellence in water and wastewater utility management. Also released were support documents, including sample measures and resources and a fact sheet for utility managers.