Models of Efficiency

Utilities from across the globe share stories of improving their communities.

If you could be more efficient at any one thing, what would it be?

For me, it would be scheduling. I’m often not as organized and efficient as I’d like to be when it comes to planning, assigning and scheduling stories. It could make the process of putting this magazine together much less stressful. And without that stress, I’d probably be able to spend more time on story development and other aspects of my job that would make the product stronger. It would also make other people’s jobs easier — fewer deadline issues, more lead time, less scrambling. It’s a goal of mine, and one I’m earnestly working toward.

What if your water distribution system was 10% more efficient? You’d treat less water, chase fewer leaks and probably prevent an emergency or two. Those cost-savings would allow you to reinvest and make your system even more efficient, to boost your capital projects spending or upgrade tools and equipment. Each of those things gives you potential for even greater improvements.

There’s a story about Tier 3 jetting nozzles in this issue. Marty Tew and his crew at Fayetteville PWC Water Resources doubled their efficiency when they moved to Tier 3 nozzles after seeing a demonstration. Imagine what doubling your cleaning efficiency would give you time to do. That could be the difference between staying in reactive mode and chasing emergencies to a proactive approach that builds even more efficiencies throughout your operations.

What if your revenue jumped 4% without a corresponding rise in expenses? That’s exactly what happened in Columbia, South Carolina, where a large-scale automated metering infrastructure project updated a system that was underrecording water usage by 4%. I doubt there’s a municipal utility anywhere that wouldn’t benefit from that budget boost.

What if you could buy a piece of equipment that would eliminate the need for two other pieces of equipment and save your crews time on a task they do daily? That’s exactly what happened in Anamosa, Iowa, where the city Water Department invested in a trailer-mounted hydroexcavating unit with an attached valve exerciser. The new unit has allowed the utility to exercise all its valves annually, when it was previously only able to get to about half of them each year. That’s a lot of extra time freed up for those crew members to focus on other tasks.

In Udaipur, India, opencut replacement of sewer lines in ancient and densely populated neighborhoods proved inefficient, so the city turned to trenchless technology. Pipe bursting proved to be exactly the solution the city had been looking for. The project increased system capacity with minimal disruption and improved the community as a whole. And that’s really what your jobs are all about.

All of these stories are good examples of ways to improve your operations and serve your customers better. They might not all fit your specific circumstances, but they all demonstrate that you don’t need unlimited resources if you use your resources efficiently.

Enjoy this month’s issue. 

Comments on this column or about any article in this publication may be directed to editor Luke Laggis, 800-257-7222;


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