From The Editor - January 2022

Dates don’t matter when it’s time to make changes to better your systems.

Sometimes a fresh start is nice. New Year’s provides that for some people, at least symbolically, but I’ve never found much difference between December 31 and January 1. They’re two consecutive days on the calendar. And one is as cold as the next here in northern Wisconsin.

Meaningful change isn’t defined or controlled by a date on your desktop planner. It requires real effort. Planning is important, but you don’t need to wait for any specific date, and you have to be willing to adapt and make changes along the way. The same goes for your utility systems. Aging pipes don’t always wait for their planned replacement date to fail. Overflows won’t be held at bay because you have a CSO abatement project on the calendar for next year.

The city of Plano, Texas, profiled in this issue, knew they needed to make changes. The city’s collections system wasn’t in terrible shape, but its asset management practices opened the door for inefficiencies.

Plano’s first step in changing the approach was adopting a CMOM plan in 2017. That provided a roadmap for collections system inspection and maintenance efforts, and from there the city was able to develop a master plan to identify capacity needs and direct inspection and replacement work toward the most critical assets. It took a lot of work, and buy-in from the whole team, but the results have been worth the effort.

Along the way, Plano gained operational efficiency. In addition to having better control of its collections system, the city has also been able to provide a higher level of customer service. Those are good goals for any utility.

What benchmarks are you trying to meet? You’ve no doubt done some good work, but maybe you still have some FOG issues (see this month’s Better Mousetraps) or stretches of failing sewer line. Maybe you’ve made great strides in reducing overflows but aren’t quite where you want to be yet. Or maybe you have a seemingly insurmountable backlog of maintenance work but you’re putting together a 10-year plan to address deficiencies.

We’ve featured a lot of utilities in this magazine. Most have accomplished great things, but none have completed their work. There’s always more to do, and I think if you always keep that mentality, it’ll serve you and your utilities well.

The past year and a half has presented new challenges to everyone, and it’s shown the need for good planning and contingencies. I wouldn’t expect the start of 2022 to be much different than the end of 2021, but every day is a fresh start with new opportunities to take steps toward a more sustainable future for your utilities. Taking advantage of those opportunities can put you in a proactive mode that brings compounding success. Treating each day like it’s just another will keep you reacting and you’ll never get ahead.

Here’s to fresh starts and making today count.

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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