Water utility operations need to ensure safe, clean water for their citizens. This includes testing for biohazards like E coli, heavy metal contaminants like lead, and other harmful substances in the water. States, territories, and authorized tribes also set water quality standards that protect designated water body uses and include antidegradation requirements. These can be numeric or narrative criteria.
Invest in Water Quality Monitoring
Water quality monitoring is vital for ensuring the safety of drinking water from source to tap. This includes tracking contaminant levels, such as total trihalomethanes (disinfection byproducts), arsenic, and nitrates, and measuring temperature, pressure, dissolved oxygen, and turbidity. A unified system that connects all your environmental sensors and data in one place is the most effective way to optimize water utility management. Traditionally, water samples are manually collected at each station and then sent to the lab for analysis. However, this approach can be challenging to implement in rural areas where access to safe water is limited by a “quantity first, quality later” mindset that creates barriers to monitoring. To address this challenge, innovative arrangements are needed to build institutional capacity for rural water quality monitoring.
Implement a Water Conservation Program
A water conservation program is critical to a successful water utility management strategy. This includes a wide range of activities, from educational initiatives to implementing water-saving devices in residential and commercial properties. In addition, it is essential to assess water-consuming systems for leaks and monitor energy usage regularly. This can help avoid costly maintenance issues and reduce operating costs. Investing in a water conservation program can reduce a water utility’s need for future expansions, which can be very expensive. It can also help conserve a city’s water supply and delay the need for new treatment facilities. This can save a city millions of dollars in the long run.
Additionally, a water conservation program can reduce the amount of water that needs to be treated and pumped.
Invest in Water Treatment
Water quality standards are based on various parameters, including dissolved oxygen levels, bacteria counts, and the amount of material suspended in the water (turbidity). In addition to these physical characteristics, chemical contamination can also lower water quality. These chemicals can include metals like lead and mercury or organic compounds such as pesticides and herbicides. The effects of chemical contamination on water can be severe. Water treatment systems must ensure that the water they produce meets specific requirements for human consumption. Residents can check local drinking water quality by reading their communities’ annual water reports, such as the Consumer Confidence Reports in the US.
Develop a Water Management Plan
A water management plan establishes water system monitoring and treatment protocols. The purpose is to minimize the risk of harmful pathogens like Legionella bacteria from growing in a facility’s water systems. Developing and implementing a water management plan is essential for every facility and government agency that uses a water utility. These plans can help agencies prioritize water efficiency projects during budget and CIP processes. By clearly demonstrating how specific budget requests connect to strategic water management goals, government management teams can increase their chances of receiving critical funding for their infrastructure. A team that includes facility staff, device managers and operators, and water treatment reps must be assembled to develop a water management plan. This team will design the plan and make sure it is appropriately implemented.
Develop a Water Resources Management Plan
A water resources management plan helps sustain your utility’s system by ensuring critical assets are handled. This will also help with water conservation and waste reduction initiatives. Water managers are increasingly being called upon to apportion scarce water supplies between growing demand from population and business growth, as well as environmental stewardship. As a result, they need strategies that consider the whole water picture and consider how efforts in one area could benefit others. The integrated water resource management (IWRM) approach, known as “One Water,” is increasingly recognized as a critical tool for meeting these challenges. This holistic approach considers the entire water cycle as a single connected system, encouraging coordination among sectors to maximize economic and social benefits and reduce negative impacts.