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Public utilities, like other business enterprises, are looking for ways to better serve their customers, improve their efficiency, and maintain regulatory compliance. Development and implementation of an Environmental Management System (EMS) is one approach to achieving these goals that has been adopted by a number of public wastewater treatment facilities, water treatment plants, municipal landfills and departments of public works. But developing an effective EMS requires an understanding of the complex array of organizational elements, work processes, and technology tools that a public utility uses to deliver services to its customers while satisfying stakeholder expectations. EMSs that are developed apart from an understanding of the business activities may not yield the intended results; and in some circumstances may be counterproductive and result in an inappropriate expenditure of resources. Assessment of an entities readiness to successfully undertake EMS development and implementation efforts can be made by considering the utility's existing organizational, process and technology components as compared to those that would be required for a fully functional and effective EMS. This assessment, takes a slightly different view than that of a typical ,,gap analysis” often conducted as an initial activity in many EMS development projects. EMS development success criteria have been developed through experience in assisting organizations in developing and sustaining effective EMSs and observation of EMS implementation efforts that have not met intended goals. Three criteria are proposed as qualitative predictors for the likelihood of successful implementation of an effective EMS by a public utility: (1) initiation factor, (2) understanding factor, and (3) acceptance factor. Public sector utilities must rate high in all three of these factors to achieve successful implementation of an effective environmental management system.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2003

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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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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