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The Santa Clara Valley Water District (District) has taken up the challenge to move from a traditional, reactive water utility operations, to an operations and maintenance outfit that is planning strategically to prepare for many current and upcoming challenges. The challenges over the next five to ten years include; major construction at the District's three treatment plants while maintaining operation and delivery of treated water, the implementation of wholesale changes in treatment technology to meet drinking water regulations, the effects of aging infrastructure, burgeoning environmental compliance requirements to maintain operations and to perform routine and emergency facility repairs, and a current economic climate which calls for operating in an increasingly efficient manner.

The Water Utility Operations Division (Division) of the District operates 142 miles of raw and treated water transmission and distribution pipelines, 17 miles of canal, 8 miles of tunnels, 3 pump stations, 3 water treatment plants, and 1 treated water reservoir. The Division also supports the operation of 20 recharge facilities, 1 hydroelectric facility, and 10 dams/reservoirs.

Collectively, the Division has adopted a planning and implementation process which includes; strategic planning, annual business planning and organizational “tune-ups” and incorporating the principles of continuous quality improvement and efficiency planning.

Strategic Planning – The development of a three to five year strategic vision, with specific issues, goals and strategies to move from the present to the vision. This is described as sticking a stake in the ground out three to five years in the direction the organization is heading.

Annual Business Planning – Developing a work-plan for the Division for the upcoming year. The Annual Business Plan lays out the core business functions, strategic initiatives, performance measures and the budget plan for each unit within the Division.

Organizational Tune-ups – After developing the Division vision and laying out the strategies to achieve it, the Division examines the current organizational structure to ensure that it is the most effective structure to achieve the plan.

The Division is currently in the third year of this planning effort and the results to date are exciting. Some of the benefits already realized include:


Development, implementation and training on standard operating procedures across the Division

Establishment of a business unit with the Division

Completion of a Competitive Assessment study

Effective partnering with the District's retail customers

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2004-01-01

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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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