There’s so much more to the work you do than a single story can tell

So much of what you do is unseen. Even when a light is cast on your work, it usually illuminates only the most easily accessible parts of your highest-profile projects.

We bring you stories from a lot of different utilities. Sharing your successes and the lessons you’ve learned is a big part of what we do. But often there’s so much more to the story. Sometimes, the work a utility is doing is so expansive, so progressive, that it doesn’t fit neatly into a 1,500-word profile.

The work being done at the Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department, maybe more so than any utility we’ve covered, is difficult to encapsulate in a single story.

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Miami-Dade is in year four of its $13.5 billion Capital Improvement Program — one of the largest among U.S. water and wastewater utilities. Some 775 projects, representing $1.1 billion in department assets, have been completed. Another 861 are in the planning or construction phase. They range from water and sewer line rehabilitation and replacement, enhanced monitoring, and data systems integration to improved energy efficiency and treatment plant upgrades and expansion — from one end of the
service area to the other.

Executing a program of this magnitude requires a tremendous amount of planning, which is dependent on integrating mountains of data from a variety of sources and, as Deputy Director Hardeep Anand says, analyzing it through the lens of utility resiliency and efficiency in order to become a smart utility for both the present and the future.

The data doesn’t just need to be analyzed, it must also be communicated. Disseminating information to all of the department’s 2,800 employees presents its own challenges, but the utility has been up to the task. And if they can do it successfully with nearly 3,000 employees, surely there’s a lesson or two in there that can help you work better with your staff.

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You’ll notice our coverage of this story is more extensive than the typical profile. With a Capital Improvement Program that encompasses water, wastewater, climate adaptation, integration of technologies, coordination among utilities, pump station projects, construction management, new wellfields and a new wastewater treatment plant, the expanded coverage is deserved.

We’re working on bringing you more comprehensive coverage on many of the stories we share. Sometimes it’s in print, and sometimes it’s online. Our coverage of the downtown streetscape project in my hometown (Rhinelander, Wisconsin) is a good example of the additional online coverage. And you can look forward to further online coverage of the Toledo Waterways Initiative, which we covered in the February issue.

It’s fun to take a closer look and give you more of the story, more insight on what it takes to keep a program of that magnitude moving forward. Miami-Dade’s $13.5 billion Capital Improvement Program might be $13.4 billion bigger than anything you’ll ever take on at your own utility, but the planning, prioritization and other processes they’re using can
certainly help you tackle your own projects, regardless of the size. That’s why we’re telling you more of the story. I hope you take something away from it that can help your own utility.

Related: Sustainability and Resiliency Planning for Water Utilities

Enjoy this month’s issue.

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