By Jim Horne and Kathryn Sorensen

In February, over 1,000 other water professionals met at the 2017 AWWA/WEF Utility Management Conference in Tampa.  Throughout America, water sector utilities provide the foundation for public health, economic opportunity, public safety, and quality of life in our communities, large and small.  As water professionals, we are all bound by a commitment to the communities we serve, and come together as an industry through conferences such as this to learn from each other to ensure that we are providing the best possible service to those communities.

The conference was also an opportunity to announce the release of the revised version of the Effective Utility Management Primer and, more importantly, to reflect a bit on this incredible partnership known as EUM involving WEF, EPA and nine other major national water sector organizations.

Developed by utilities for utilities, EUM started in 2007 as a way to provide utilities with a common framework to help them assess their organizational effectiveness, adopt best practices and metrics, and chart a course toward sustainable operations.  Using the Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities and Five Keys to Management Success, EUM is now the most widely used utility management system of its kind in the country.  Today, EUM is used by the water sector to develop and implement strategic plans and a host of other improvements at numerous utilities across the United States and beyond. EUM can be the foundation of any utility’s path to sustainability, including those that aspire to become a Water Resources Utility of the Future.

Looking back as two individuals who have had the pleasure of working on EUM for the past several years, we are very pleased to say that EUM has not only stood the test of the time, but has become even more relevant than ever before. That’s why a group of leaders from U.S. water utilities of varied sizes came together over the last year to create a revised, easy-to-use EUM Primer. The 2017 Primer provides an overview of the Ten Attributes and Five Keys to Management Success, and explains how utilities of all sizes can use EUM to achieve their mission and strategic goals.

Today’s water sector utilities must tackle many complex challenges, including aging infrastructure, rising costs, rate approvals, heightened customer expectations, workforce skill gaps, evolving technology, and rapid employee turnover.  The Primer will help your utility assess current operations and develop a path to improving in priority areas that matter to you and your community.

Like most management programs, the beauty of EUM lies in its simplicity and clarity.  It provides utilities with a practical, easy to implement common sense process for objectively assessing their strengths and areas of desired improvement – including how to chart and track their own course for improvement.  Utilities set their own pace for improving under EUM—it’s their show.

WEF and AWWA members have an opportunity to participate in webinars on EUM, the next of which is scheduled for May 9, 2017.  Two others will take place in Summer 2017.  Moving forward, we both hope all utilities across the country will use the EUM Primer and other materials located at and join the already large number of utilities committed to becoming 21st century stewards of clean and safe water!