A Guidance Document
About this Guide
This document has been created by and for water, wastewater and stormwater utility managers — to offer guidance for addressing the challenges of recruiting, training and retaining qualified staff to maintain a resilient and sustainable utility.
What do we mean by the term sustainable?
Science and technology continually advance. Yet it is still our people, the water/wastewater professionals, that are the most critical factor in providing safe drinking water to our communities and protecting our water environment. Ironically, this “people factor” also continues to be the most difficult aspect for utility leaders to manage.
Recognizing vital aspects of planning, developing and managing your workforce, the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association’s (CWWA’s) Utility Leadership Committee formed a Working Group to create this Guidance Document for water/wastewater utility managers. The purpose of this document is to assist you, as a utility manager. It is intended as a guide to setting up and implementing a workable process for developing your employees that ensures continuity of operations as staff leave or retire. It identifies several key themes to focus on and recommends some Best Practices. As a working guide, you’ll find helpful checklists to assess you and your team’s starting point and how to track progress. Mixed in, to inspire, we offer a few profiles of successful utility leaders and their initiatives – examples of what’s possible.
The first step for the CWWA Working Group was to survey our own members, Canada’s utility leaders, to get a sense of the issues they find are most critical and to identify the challenges they face. The creation of this document was shaped by the results of that national industry survey. A full report of the survey results is attached at the end of this document.
Recent workforce studies were undertaken in the water and wastewater utility sector – one in the US by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and another in Canada by the Environmental Operators Certification Program (EOCP) and the British Columbia Water and Wastewater Association (BCWWA). The studies indicate that the coming decade will see a large number of utility managers retiring. CWWA’s own survey of utility leaders reconfirmed these findings. It is imperative that the replacement of managers and leaders must be carefully planned, from recruiting and initial training through to career development, in order to ensure continuity of operations and smooth transitions.
How resilient is your utility? Key factors to consider in workforce development include: understanding a younger workforce; recognizing new technologies and the need for different education and skills; and creating a workplace of equity, inclusivity and diversity.