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CANADIAN NATIONAL WATER AND WASTEWATER BENCHMARKING PARTNERSHIP: HOW WELL ARE WE DOING?

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The National Water and Wastewater Benchmarking Partnership was developed to provide managers from 31 wastewater and 24 water utilities, comprising over 55% of the population of Canada, with an innovative tool to assist in their quest for superior performance. Quantitative performance measures combined with shared experiences and networking between participants provide an extensive resource of information from which improvements in operations can be identified and implemented. Once a common set of utility goals was established through breakout sessions held at the project opening workshops and on-going detailed discussions with the participating municipalities, a range of performance metrics was developed to measure achievement related to each goal. Following annual evaluation of results, measures have either been retained, adjusted, or deleted, depending on their success as a performance metric in determining whether their respective goal was achieved. Once established, all performance measures require consistent data from each participant. To ensure that the data is collected on a like-for-like basis from each utility, significant effort has been made to establish a specific definition of each performance measure. Furthermore, the data is being collected through site visits facilitated by the consultant rather than questionnaires administered directly by each municipality.

With each successive iteration of the benchmarking process, the Partnership will continue to generate both comparative rankings between utilities as well as multi-year trend lines for the individual utilities. The utility comparisons are able to reflect performance leaders amongst the group, and the trend lines can indicate either an improving or deteriorating situation within a specific utility. Care is taken however, to look at the complete picture before making performance judgments, as local conditions can play a significant role when it comes to comparative analysis between utilities.

Three day summary workshops are being held for both water and wastewater at the conclusion of each study iteration. The workshops provide a forum for utility managers to review the results as a group, and to determine a set of continuous improvement strategies that each utility can take away as action plans. Each utility is able to network with other utilities that have selected the same action plans for implementation, and benefit through experience sharing as well as other economies of scale.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2002-01-01

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