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Environmental management systems (EMS) are receiving a lot of attention for their potential to improve environmental performance and enhance credibility with stakeholders. Dozens of wastewater utilities are now developing and implementing an EMS. Their experiences offer useful lessons on how to develop an effective EMS that is well-aligned with organizational priorities.

Although the continual improvement framework of an EMS can offer substantial benefits that go beyond environmental performance, in practice it can be challenging to integrate an EMS into existing planning processes and day-to-day procedures. This integration is critical for EMS to be an effective tool for improving organizational performance, and making it more than just an environmental initiative. In organizations that fail to align an EMS effectively at the beginning of the process, there may be a disconnect between the EMS and the organization's core priorities and functions. This reduces the potential for realizing improved product and service quality and organizational performance.

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 These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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