“cMOM as a Catalyst for Business Improvement”
Authors: Garcia, Guillermo J.; Gonzales, John
Source: Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation, WEF/CWEA Collection Systems 2002 , pp. 15-43(29)
Publisher: Water Environment Federation
Abstract:The City of Sparks, Nevada has operated their wastewater collection system for many years without formal management processes and plans. Although the utility operated without major problems, Sparks recognized that improvement efforts would be difficult to develop and implement without having a more detailed knowledge of a wide range of factors affecting system operations. Sparks recognized that they would need to develop a systematic framework to collect and analyze basic system data including current system condition, infrastructure deficiencies, and the effectiveness of their past management approach.
Sparks recognized that the upcoming Capacity, Management, Operations, and Maintenance (cMOM) regulation could be used as an impetus for effecting these changes. Viewing cMOM as an opportunity instead of burden, the utility took a more cost effective and strategic risk assessment approach to establishing compliance. Instead of “checking off” the proposed regulation line-by-line, the utility combined the cMOM elements with industry best practices into a checklist of key issues to evaluate its operations for potential sources of risk. To support this evaluation, the City conducted a management review, comprised of a series of interviews and document reviews. These activities were focused on assessing the effectiveness of utility management, organization, and policies; operations and maintenance; system planning and evaluation; construction inspection policies; and emergency response process. In addition, a review of the utility's current financial position was conducted.
The approach of conducting a brief, high-level management review avoided an expensive and time-consuming audit and produced a summary of current operations and a succinct set of management recommendations. Sparks' managers and staff used this review to prioritize management improvements and long-term planning activities.
Sparks'approach to developing a long-term management framework for the collection system complemented two of the utility's current initiatives: an asset management assessment and the transition to a business planning process. The results of the review provided a baseline for developing an effective asset management program and ensuring that the linkage between operations and maintenance and capital funding was effectively achieved. Similarly, the business planning efforts helped the utility define its vision, mission, and key services; identify specific program goals; and create performance indicators to measure success.
Increased legislation does not have to be a burden to utilities. New regulations, like cMOM, can actually provide the impetus and leverage for a utility to improve its business practices. The cMOM regulation, though lengthy in its requirements, focuses on improving management effectiveness. The City of Sparks has demonstrated that cMOM can provide a framework for improving utility service, reducing operating costs, and managing utility assets more wisely when combined with a proactive, strategic approach.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: January 1, 2002
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