The utility was recognized for its commitment to Effective Utility Management principles and community outreach/engagement efforts.
AUSTIN – Austin Water has received recognition as a 2020 Utility of the Future Today for its commitment to Effective Utility Management principles and community outreach and engagement efforts during development and adoption of the Water Forward Integrated Water Resource Plan.
“We are deeply honored to be recognized for our efforts, particularly in this unprecedented year that required responsive adjustments to operations to continue to serve the community with uninterrupted essential services,” said Austin Water Director Greg Meszaros. “Our organizational culture embraces continuous improvement, collaboration, and community engagement, which has led to innovative thinking and resilience in facing today’s challenges. The contributions of many hundreds of Austin Water employees and stakeholders led to this honor.”
Austin Water adopted the framework provided by the Environmental Protection Agency and a group of water sector organizations known as Effective Utility Management (EUM) four years ago. This EUM framework is built upon industry best practices and management successes, and has been instrumental in aligning employees, programs and strategic initiatives to excel in an ever-changing business environment. EUM has also infused a spirit of learning and continuous improvement throughout all levels of the organization. Austin Water has identified four EUM focus areas for the next three fiscal years: Customer Satisfaction, Employee and Leadership Development, Enterprise Resiliency, and Infrastructure Strategy and Performance.
Water Forward is a plan created in collaboration with the Austin community to develop long-term integrated water resources for the next 100 years. The plan recommends strategies that include major water supply projects, as well as incremental solutions through demand management and reuse. Austin Water’s robust outreach and engagement efforts that supported development of the Water Forward plan was also a determining factor in their Utility of the Future Today recognition.
The Utility of the Future Today concept is being promoted as water systems face challenges such as aging infrastructure, water pollution, workforce shortages, and impacts of climate change, including drought, floods, storms, and sea level rise. The recognition program honors forward-thinking, innovative water utilities that are providing resilient value-added service to communities, particularly in community engagement, watershed stewardship, and recovery of resources such as water, energy, and nutrients. The Utility of the Future Today program was launched in 2016 by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Water Research Foundation (WRF) and the Water Reuse Association, with input from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The recognition celebrates the achievements of water utilities that transform from the traditional wastewater treatment system to a resource recovery center and leader in the overall sustainability and resilience of the communities they serve.
“The innovations coming to the water sector present an opportunity for a paradigm shift in the way utilities think about and solve long-standing challenges to clean and reliable water,” said Jackie Jarrell, WEF President. “WEF is excited to recognize Austin Water for embracing innovative ways to better serve their communities.”
Austin Water will be recognized during a pre-recorded awards ceremony on Oct. 9 at 11 a.m. ET during WEFTEC Connect.