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Taking Control of Your Destiny: Preparing To Separate

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Managing and operating a water or wastewater utility as a competitive business is always challenging. It is even more difficult when the utility is competing with more than 15 other services vying for the attention of City Council. This is especially true in the face of today's top issues, such as:

Deteriorating infrastructure that needs large investment

Increasing regulatory and customer service requirements

Inter-Departmental competition for funding

Increasing demands to be competitive

Clearly, there is only one way to run a rate-based (as opposed to tax-based) utility as a public business while successfully meeting all of these challenges. The solution is to separate from the rest of the municipal service bundle and its associated bureaucracy. The only way to prepare the way for separation is to prove to Council that the utility can be run as competitively as the private sector, while maintaining the compassion of a public organization.

This paper describes the process used by the City of Toronto Water and Wastewater Division to initiate and carry out its quest to become a competitive, independent business unit. It discusses the key program elements, the hurdles that have been overcome, the challenges that still remain, and the results to date. Toronto has accumulated more than 65 million (CDN) in benefits to date on the Division's Works Best Practices Program and is poised to make the move.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2002

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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