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Accreditation of Water & Wastewater Utilities AWWA Accreditation Program

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The Accreditation program is currently under development by AWWA. Accreditation will become a voluntary, nation-wide program for all utilities, regardless of size. It is a form of a verification of the application of standards of best practice to deliver high quality services and not an attempt to by-pass the regulatory compliance (it is “above & beyond”). It should result in less reporting requirements and less regulatory oversight, and an improvement of customer satisfaction with the water suppliers. It will provide a tool for primacy agencies to be used in evaluation of utilities with the real needs for oversight and assistance. It will result in a change of attitude from seeking compliance with existing regulations to seeking the best strategies to best protect the public health.

Accreditation has been named a high priority effort of the AWWA. The Accreditation Policy Committee provides links to the Councils and Committees of AWWA, as well as the Government Affairs office of AWWA. Accreditation Program is set up independently of the existing quality improvement programs such as QualServe or Partnership for Safe Water. The existing utility quality improvement programs may be used by utilities in preparation for the accreditation as they contain the necessary tools, but these programs are not required for accreditation.

Program components to be developed through individual efforts but will start at the same time:

Policy and Procedures – developed by a consultant to AWWA, experienced in accreditation in other branches of industry.

Accreditation Standards – to be developed by groups of AWWA volunteers, experts in respective fields, and edited by a Standards committee. The first components to be developed are: distribution system operation and management, source water management and protection, and water treatment plant operation and management. After piloting the implementation of these standards at both large and small systems, other areas of accreditation will be developed and will include: conservation, customer relations, business, financing, and planning, as well as wastewater treatment, wastewater collection, biosolids handling and management, water reclamation.

Benefits and Incentives – to be developed by a consultant to AWWA:

Financial incentives (lower interest rates on bonds/grants, lower insurance premiums)

Regulatory benefits (less oversight from primacy agencies)

Social and political benefits (public confidence, recognition, and credibility)

Once the accreditation program components are proposed in a draft form and representatives of regulatory agencies and professional organizations are briefed about the process, a stakeholder process, facilitated by a professional firm, will be initiated. The stakeholders will provide feedback, express concerns, indicate individual issues, and participate in building the program.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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