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By Scott Grayson, APWA Executive Director, and Jim Horne, EPA Sustainability Program Manager

Since 1960, APWA has sponsored National Public Works Week in the third full week of May. Across North America, APWA’s nearly 30,000 members in the U.S. and Canada use this week to energize and educate the public on the importance of public works to their daily lives. This year’s National Public Works Week theme “Public Works Connects Us” celebrates the vital role public works plays by providing, maintaining, and improving the structures and services – streets, roads, bridges, public transportation, clean water and sanitation services – that keep us connected, productive and healthy and allow our communities to grow and prosper.

This week also presents an opportunity to highlight how public works professionals are leaders in planning, building, managing and operating our critical water infrastructure. A great example of this type of leadership is the collaboration established by APWA, EPA, and nine other major national water sector organizations to develop an important water utility management program: Effective Utility Management (EUM).

Developed by utilities for utilities, Effective Utility Management (EUM) has, since 2007, provided a common framework to assess 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 provides a path for developing and implementing strategic plans and a host of other improvements and can be the foundation of any utility’s path to sustainability, including those that aspire to become a Water Resources Utility of the Future.

As our nation faces the need for greater infrastructure investment better management of finite natural resources, EUM is even more relevant than ever before. That’s why a group of leaders from U.S. water and public works providers 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.

Like most successful management programs, the beauty of EUM lies in its simplicity and clarity.  It provides utilities with a practical, easy-to-implement and common sense process for objectively assessing their strengths and areas of desired improvement.  Utilities set their own pace for charting and tracking their course for improving under EUM. 

Interested in learning more? See the article ‘Effective Utility Management: An update for all of today's public works leaders’ in the February issue of the Reporter. APWA also hosted a Click Listen and Learn on March 30th “Effective Utility Management: Your Path to Sustainability” which can be accessed from the APWA Members’ Library.

Moving forward, we hope APWA members will use the EUM Primer and other materials located at and join the already large number of utilities committed to being ever better 21st century stewards of clean and safe water!

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