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Many water and wastewater utilities in the United States are facing the dilemma of how to deal with senior personnel retirements and associated succession planning. This paper presents three case histories addressing how this problem was handled smoothly and successfully with minimal disruption to operations through the utilization of contract management. Contract management involves temporarily providing experienced senior leadership to a utility on a full time basis until the situation stabilizes.

In the town of Wareham, Massachusetts, the chief operator, assistant chief operator, and maintenance manager were either terminated or resigned. Contract management was used to provide an operations and maintenance (O&M) assistance program for the wastewater plant and pumping stations. An assessment was performed to evaluate possible advantages and risks associated with privatization.

In Rockland, Massachusetts, the utility's long-time contract operator was displaced due to state procurement concerns. When the community and the contractor were unable to agree on an interim solution, an alternative means of providing continuous reliable wastewater treatment services was created utilizing contract management.

In Westfield, Massachusetts, when the long-term plant supervisor retired and a suitable replacement was not readily available from existing staff, a short-term need to sustain routine O&M activities was needed. Contract management provided an opportunity to independently evaluate current O&M practices, assist in identifying and recruiting a permanent replacement, and give additional support and training to existing staff.

In each case, an interim strategy was developed to bridge the utility from a short-term immediate crisis, to a viable long-term solution. The objective was to stabilize operations while preserving long-term options, and reassessing future goals and needs of the utility without committing to a “quick fix” solution.

Interim contract management offered the solution to guiding and retaining personnel through difficult transition situations, and allowed time to evaluate alternatives addressing both immediate needs and preferred long-term solutions.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-01-01

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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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