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26
MAY
0

EFFECTIVE UTILITY MANAGEMENT: LEADERSHIP AND COLLABORATION

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 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 www.WaterEUM.org and join the already large number of utilities committed to being ever better 21st century stewards of clean and safe water!


22
MAY
0

Community resilience in the face of climate change has been on my mind even more than usual as I just returned from the National Adaptation Forum in Minneapolis.

So it was a treat to talk with Troy Moon, Portland, Maine’s Sustainability Coordinator recently for my SAS Talk with Kim podcast series. Both Troy and Portland have been leaders in community sustainability and climate solutions for well over a decade. Troy played a large role in laying the foundation for the city’s climate mitigation and sustainability work during the seven years he worked in the Department of Public Works as the Solid Waste Manager before moving to his new role in the City Manager’s Office. The City completed its greenhouse gas inventory back in 2001 and since then has notched several climate mitigation achievements – a big energy efficiency push in buildings, electric vehicles, LED street lights and an upcoming solar installation on a landfill.

But, as Troy noted, they are just getting into the adaptation game (this report from a 2015 conference gives an overview of their resilience timeline). Portland isn’t wasting any time making a name for itself in climate resilience/adaptation circles. Their first major initiative is called “Bayside Adapts” (this local news story from the community forum launch in late 2016 has a nice overview, as does this conference presentation from March 2017). Here’s an excerpt from the Portland Phoenix article:

“In response to the increasing anxiety that bigger storms, king tides and nuisance flooding bring to the area, the city of Portland has launched a new initiative that aims to discuss and eventually exercise strategies to make the Bayside Neighborhood more resilient to climate change.  It’s called “Bayside Adapts,” and it aims to bring scientists, engineers, sustainability experts, city officials and community members together, to explore ways that the neighborhood can face, what many consider to be, a very urgent issue.”

Bayside is a neighborhood in Portland that is particularly vulnerable to sea level rise -- it’s the lowest point in the city -- and challenges with stormwater management. It’s also an area in transition, which happens to be an opportune moment to have a conversation about the future of the area in the face of climate threats.  

One of the remarkable things about Portland’s “Bayside Adapts” endeavor that Troy noted was that it’s the first time the City is putting its own resources -- to the tune of $100,000 for an engineering study they are calling a “data gap analysis” and community outreach -- into climate resilience.  The City was also one of the ten pilot cities in the National League of Cities’ (NLC) Leadership in Community Resilience Program that has meant $10,000 in direct support and additional technical support. The other cities are: Annapolis, Maryland; Des Moines, Iowa; Providence, Rhode Island; Riverside, California; San Antonio; Saint Paul, Minnesota; South Bend, Indiana; Tempe; and West Palm Beach, Florida.

Part of the NLC money funded the a design competition (this online brochure has all the details) seeking innovative approaches to making Bayside a resilient neighborhood. Five Portland-based firms competed, and you can see each of their detailed submissions here. The City had announced the winner – Aceto Landscape Architects – the day before I chatted with Troy, so he discussed some of the features that stood out to the judges: a focus on recreating natural systems (like using an old mill pond as a water feature -- their entry was titled “Back to the Mill: Unearthing Portland’s Emerald Necklace”), increasing open spaces, utilizing natural interventions and incorporating infrastructure that can live with water.

Troy told me that two keys to Portland’s success thus far have been community support and collaboration between departments -- a theme we keep hearing more about. Bayside Adapts has brought together Planning, Public Works, Sustainability (which is in the City Manager’s office) and Economic Development. Troy has no additional staff in his department so he certainly can’t do it alone. He has worked closely with the Waterfront Coordinator in Economic Development and the Planning Director.

There are plenty of impressive -- and replicable -- parts of Portland’s climate resilience story, so I encourage you to take a listen to Troy’s SAS Talk with Kim podcast.


The C4S Sustainability Toolkit has dozens of climate resilience resources, including: the recent Resilience Plan released by Pittsburgh, PA (OnePGH); the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) Climate Resilience Toolkit; and the Federal Highway Administration’s Climate Change Adaptation Guide for Transportation Systems. To find these resources, go to the C4S Sustainability Toolkit and simply select “Climate Change Resilience” under the “All Topics” dropdown menu.

Kim Lundgren

Chair, APWA Center for Sustainability (C4S)

Kim@KimLundgrenAssociates.com

@TheKimLundgren


06
MAR
0

The Center for Sustainability (C4S) is excited to release the first version of the Resource Guide for Chapter Sustainability Liaisons and Committees. The resource guide was developed to provide guidance to chapters interested in creating a sustainability committee as well as those that have an existing sustainability committee and would like assistance with developing and growing the committee.

The resource guide contains information on the function of a committee, role of the chair and members as well as suggestions for strategic planning, programming activities, building an awards program and contact information for other chapter committees and information on mentorship opportunities.

The Resource Guide for Chapter Sustainability Liaisons and Committees can be found in the Library of the Center for Sustainability Community on APWA Connect. For more information or if you would like to provide feedback on the resource guide please contact C4S Chapter Engagement Subcommittee Member Matt Rodrigues at matt.j.rodrigues@ci.eugene.or.us or Anne Jackson APWA ajackson@apwa.net.

Matt Rodrigues, P.E., ENV SP

Traffic Engineer

Public Works Maintenance, City of Eugene


21
FEB
0

APWA’s Center for Sustainability (C4S) was highlighted recently in an industry report regarding climate change educational programs and services offered by leading professional societies. The report Professional Societies and Climate Change from The Kresge Foundation, analyzes 41 professional societies’ programs that include integration of climate change impacts. The  report aimed to identify tools, information and best practices for training professionals working in urban areas to create more resilient communities.

The Kresge Foundation, using a matrix, identified and categorized each association’s relevant programs or services according to the themes of climate change adaptation, climate change mitigation and social justice. Many of these resources were seen as directly applicable to the ability of professionals working in urban areas, who deal with climate impacts that result in more intense and frequent natural disasters in local communities, to do their jobs.

Some organizations, including APWA, have been working on sustainability for more than a decade and have seen initial interest in climate change adaptation and resilience lead to more interest in mitigation, according to the report.  “In [the] early days everyone said public works was a hurdle to getting stuff done on mitigation, but resilience has been a great opportunity… a better way for public works to embrace the climate issue,” said C4S Chair, Kim Lundgren, CEO of Kim Lundgren Associates in Woburn, MA.

In the report section, Disaster Preparedness/Resilience is Another Common Frame, some organizations mention disasters and resilience as a mechanism to discuss climate change with their membership, which is true for the professional organizations impacted by natural disasters (NEMA, NHMA, AIA, APA, APWA).

Anne Jackson

APWA Director of Sustainability


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