WaterEUM — Effective Utility Management

Ten Attributes -

Stakeholder Understanding and Support

Engenders understanding and support from oversight bodies, community and watershed interests, and regulatory bodies for service levels, rate structures, operating budgets, capital improvement programs, and risk management decisions. Actively involves stakeholders in the decisions that will affect them.

Link to Example Measures 

Resources:

Building the Water Utility Brand - Practical Advice for Increasing Trust, Support, and Investment
This management manual, written by marketing and branding expert John Ruetten, makes a strong case for utilities to adopt the proven marketing strategy of branding to establish the value of water and successfully compete for customers' investment dollars. Exploring the politics of investment in water, negative branding of water utilities, and opportunities provided by a strong positive brand, Ruetten goes through the steps of defining and implementing the utility brand. The manual clears up myths about the branding process and shows why branding does not require large expenditures. (46 pages, 2006) $$ Order Now 

Mastering the Media - Telling the PublicWorks Story Your Way
It happens - sometimes the media wants to talk to someone from public works. So why not take control of media interactions and use them to YOUR advantage? Those who have mastered the media have simply taken the time to learn how to avoid common communications mistakes and create the kind of media relationships that promote the public works message in both "good" and "bad" news situations. Public works professionals who want to increase their comfort level and effectiveness when dealing with the media should purchase this CD-ROM! Get expert advice on how to: Incorporate a positive communications component into major public works projects; Eliminate fears associated with media interviews ; Correct negative or inaccurate media stories; Decide what to say when "put on the spot" in an interview; Get the public works message across with communication tools like newsletters, websites, and local cable TV; Make the move from reactive to proactive communication; Enhance your communication skills to catapult your public works career. (CDROM 2008) $$ Order Now 

Public Works: Leading Your your Communities
This CDROM contains 3 programs to assist public works professionals in becoming leaders within their communities. Learn how to create a community awareness plan that builds support for infrastructure projects, assures taxpayers and elected officials that funding is wisely spent, attracts positive attention from the media and increases employee morale. The CDROM also will teach you how to get along with elected officials, engage the public,, gain support for critical projects and enhance your city's image and reputation. (CDROM, 2004) $$ Order Now 

Public Works Outreach Toolkit
This toolkit is filled with helpful ideas and resources to assist you in your outreach. The kit includes: a six-minute video entitled Everyday Heroes that emphasizes the everyday role of public works professionals on our quality of life; a 30-second Public Service Announcement for use for local public service announcements or short introductions to outreach presentations; a how-to guide designed to help you plan your outreach; and APWA Resource Flyer and order form full of APWA giveaways and prizes. (Video, 2003) $$ Order Now 

Stakeholder Perceptions of Utility Role in Environmental Leadership
You may believe that your water/wastewater utility demonstrates environmental leadership. Would you be surprised to learn that nine out of ten environmental stakeholders would not agree with you? Although water utility managers and environmental stakeholders generally agree about the importance of environmental leadership (also called "environmental stewardship"), there is a major gap in the perceived level of environmental leadership being undertaken by utilities. The gap stems from the way water utility managers view their roles as environmental leaders compared to the expectations of stakeholders. This study will help water utility managers better understand the concept of environmental leadership, and will provide strategies to evolve water utilities into recognized environmental leaders in their states. Why is environmental leadership important? Because your customers think it is: an astonishing 91% of respondents to a national survey said it was very important for a water utility to be an environmental leader. More important, a majority of residents who think their utility is an environmental leader are willing to pay for utility environmental protection initiatives. The public will put their money where their mouth is when it comes to utility environmental leadership. This study describes ways utility employees can become involved in environmental leadership, provides ideas for water utilities to collaborate with other organizations to support environmental initiatives, and describes communication strategies to promote awareness of your utility's environmental stewardship. It will tell you how to implement each idea and track its effectiveness. The report also provides a list of stakeholders to be included in a water utility's environmental leadership activities and offers step-by-step guidance for planning and conducting a local environmental leadership forum in your community. 2006 - Softbound - 147 pp. ISBN 1583214321; Catalog No. 91104 $$ Order Now 

Survival Guide Public Communications for Water Professionals
This publication recognizes that effective public communications are a skill not included in most technical training programs leaving many water professionals inadequately prepared for media and community interactions. It is designed to help utilities shape public perceptions about the wastewater field through their communications. Developed by communication experts in the water quality sector, this communications guide will help water professionals overcome challenges and seize opportunities for developing positive relations with customers, community leaders, special interest groups, the media and other individuals and organizations. (156 Pages, 2002) $$ Order Now 

Total Water Management: Practices for a Sustainable Future
The book explains how to identify and involve all stakeholders in decision-making processes. It defines the viewpoint of each stakeholder group: utilities, consumers, industry, agriculture, government officials, regulators, suppliers, public interest groups, and others and their roles and responsibilities in making TWM successful. With this book, water managers can:

  • use TWM to balance competing uses through efficient allocation by planning and managing dynamically

  • adapt TWM to changing conditions and local and regional variations

  • use TWM to share responsibility, coordination, and conflict resolution to reach decisions with participation of
    all units of government and stakeholders

Total Water Management: Practices for a Sustainable Future offers to water utility managers and others involved in the water industry powerful and urgently needed tools to balance needs of water management and the environment. This book serves as an instruction manual for integrating the water needs of society and the environment. It is about the balance between our responsibilities to provide safe and reliable water services and to protect the environment. 2008 - Hardback - 308 pp. ISBN 1-58321-550-6; Catalog No. 20516 $$ Order Now 

Water Is Life, and Infrastructure Makes It Happen(TM)
The Water Environment Federation, with support from the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, is organizing an on-going public education program that provides communication and outreach strategies, training and tools for utilities to build grassroots support for infrastructure investment. The overall mission is to connect quality of life issues such as public health, the environment, and economic benefits for communities with wastewater investment initiatives. Educational materials that target ratepayers, public officials and the media are designed to be customizable and (most) can be down-loaded for free from the website www.WaterIsLife.net. Click here 


Measures:

Stakeholder consultation
Description:
This measure addresses utility actions to reach out to and consult with stakeholders about utility matters, including utility goals, objectives, and management decisions.

Example questions: 

  • Does the utility identify stakeholders, conduct outreach, and actively consult with stakeholders about utility matters (yes/no)? Elements of this plan can include:

    • Number of active contacts with stakeholders in key areas (e.g., from local government, business, education, non-governmental groups)?

    • Does the utility actively seek input from stakeholders (yes/no)?

    • Frequency with which the utility actively consults with stakeholders. This measure should go beyond counting the number of calls or times information is sent out or posted on websites to items such as number of stakeholder outreach and education activities, number of opportunities for stakeholders to provide input, participation of stakeholders on utility committees, etc.
      - Does the utility actively consider and act upon stakeholder input (yes/no)?

     

Stakeholder satisfaction
Description: This measure addresses stakeholder perceptions of the utility. Stakeholder satisfaction can be measured through surveys sent to stakeholders, formal feedback surveys distributed to stakeholders at events, etc.

Example calculations: 

  • Overall satisfaction (percent): 100 X (number of stakeholders who annually rate the overall job of the utility as positive / total number of stakeholders surveyed).

  • Responsiveness (percent): 100 X (number of stakeholders who annually rate utility responsiveness to stakeholder needs as positive / total number of stakeholders surveyed).

  • Message recollection for outreach programs targeted to specific stakeholder groups (percent): (a) 100 X (number of stakeholders who recall key messages / total number of stakeholders surveyed); and (b) 100 X (number of stakeholders who recall the message source (TV, utility mailers, newsletters, etc.) / total number of stakeholders surveyed).

Internal benefits from stakeholder input
Description:
This measure addresses the value utility employees believe stakeholder engagement has provided to utility projects and activities. Measurement by the utility can focus on surveying utility employees running projects that have stakeholder involvement.

Example calculations:

  • 100 X (number of utility projects or activities where stakeholders participated and/or provided input for which utility employees believe there was value added as a result of stakeholder participation and input / total number of projects where stakeholders participated and/or provided input).

  • Overall value added (percent): 100 X (number of utility employees who rated their overall sense of value added from stakeholder participation and input as (high value added, some value added, little value added, no value added) / total number of utility employees surveyed).

Comparative rate rank
Description: This measure depicts how utility rates compare to similar utilities (e.g., utilities of the same type (drinking water, wastewater) that are similar in terms of geographic region, size of population served, etc.). A utility can use the measure internally or to educate stakeholders. It should be noted that the lowest rate is not necessarily best (see Financial Viability).

Example calculations: 

  • Typical monthly bill for the average household as a percentage of typical monthly bills for similar area utilities.

Media/press coverage
Description:
This measure captures media portrayal of the utility (newspaper, TV, radio, etc.) in terms of awareness, accuracy, and tone.

Example calculations: 

  • Amount of coverage: Total number of media stories (newspaper, TV, radio, etc.) concerning the utility per year.

  • Media coverage tone (percent): 100 X (number of media stories concerning the utility that portray the utility in a positive way / total number of media stories concerning the utility) per year.

  • Media coverage accuracy (percent): 100 X (number of media stories that accurately describe the utility / total number of media stories concerning the utility) per year.