Charles River Clean-Up 2022

Team Tata & Howard joined 3,000+ volunteers participating in the 23rd Annual Earth Day Charles River Cleanup! It was a beautiful Saturday to get out of the house and lend a helping hand to Mother Nature!

Our team picked, tugged, lugged, and hauled away litter around the Upper Falls Playground. We even made a new friend, neighbor Barry Soroka, who lives close to the park; looking forward to seeing you next year, Barry!

Location: Upper Falls Playground, Newton Upper Falls, MA

Scholarships In Motion

TATA & HOWARD, INC. (T&H), founded in 1992, is a 100% employee-owned water, wastewater, and stormwater services engineering firm. We are dedicated to consistently delivering the highest quality and innovative engineering solutions in the water environment.

As an industry leader in the Northeast, we believe the key to quality engineers for the future begins with education. Together with industry associations, high schools, and colleges, we demonstrate that belief through our scholarship programs. T&H scholarships recognize outstanding, graduating high school seniors who maintained an overall GPA of at least 3.0, excel in math or science, and will be enrolled full-time at a college majoring in engineering.

To learn how you can apply for consideration, check out our current programs.

Patrick S. O’Neale, P.E. Engineering Scholarship Award
Click here to learn more

Donald J. Tata Engineering
Scholarship Award
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Donald J. Tata Engineering
Scholarship Award

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Donald J. Tata Engineering Scholarships

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T&H Scholarships in Motion.

Donald J. Tata Engineering Scholarship Awarded to Marlborough and Natick High School Seniors

TATA & HOWARD, INC. announced it’s 2018 Donald J. Tata Engineering Scholarship winners.  Graduating seniors from Marlborough High School, Igor De Moraes and Amanda Vilensky; and seniors from Natick High School, Kevin Zheng and Rebecca McCue, each received the $1,000 scholarship sponsored by TATA & HOWARD, INC. and the Tata family. Learn more

TATA & HOWARD, INC. Announces Paul E. Cote Engineering Scholarship Nomination, Jared Hamilton.

Jared Hamilton, an A.P. Scholar, graduated from Ellsworth High School with high honors and is a recent graduate of the University of Maine, B.S. in Civil Engineering, with a dual concentration in water resources and structural design.  Jared recently passed the Fundamentals of Engineering Exams (F.E.). He is a member of the Maine Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) and a past member of the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity.

Jared commented on his “Greatest of All Time” (G.O.A.T.) engineering experience – while observing the construction of a substation as an intern – “I could see the foundations, forms, rebar, etc. and I knew then I had chosen the right career path.” Jared recently took a full-time position with an engineering company in Maine, setting his goal to obtain engineering knowledge through hands-on experience. – Jared, the TATA & HOWARD team congratulates you and wishes you much success!

Patrick S. O’Neale, P.E. Scholarship

Patrick S. O’Neale, P.E. Engineering Scholarship Award

Tata & Howard, Inc. is pleased to co-sponsor the Patrick S. O’Neale, P.E. Engineering Scholarship Award through the Massachusetts Water Works Association (MWWA).

Patrick had a passion for quality control, quality assurance, and the development and protection of Massachusetts water supply and water infrastructure. He held a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Southeastern Massachusetts University and served as president of MWWA. His twenty-year career at Tata & Howard, Inc. served in many leadership roles, with his final position as Sr. Vice President. 

This award is open to students pursuing a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil or Environmental Engineering at an accredited academic institution in the United States,  with preference given to those candidates whose programs of study are related to waterworks practice. 

Click here to learn more about applying for the O’Neale Scholarship Application through MWWA. Deadline: June 1st of each year. 

Donations, if you wish to donate to this fund, please click here.  

Meet Joseph Diaz – our first Awardee

Joseph Diaz
Merrimack College
Civil Engineering | 2022
Joseph is pursuing his master’s degree in engineering management. Scholarships In Motion – check out our interview with Joseph.

Asset Management Grant Program Available in MA

Calling All Water Utilities!

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP) and the Massachusetts Clean Water Trust (the Trust) are currently promoting Asset Management Programs (AMPs) by offering subsidized State Revolving Fund (SRF) financing for communities looking to improve one or more of their water-related utilities.

With the help of Asset Management Programs, water, wastewater, and stormwater utilities are poised to make beneficial financial decisions for the future. The goal of AMPs is to achieve long-term sustainability and deliver the required level of service in a cost-efficient manner. Financial decisions surrounding asset repairs, replacements, or rehabilitations, as well as the development and implementation of a long-term funding strategy can only help a utility.

Through the Asset Management Grant Program, MassDEP and the Trust are encouraging water utilities to focus on AMP development, maintenance, or improvements. This program is also aimed at helping communities and their utilities meet the Engineering Plan and Financial Sustainability Plan requirements for SRF construction loans. With that, the program will award grants with a maximum award of $150,000 or 60% of the total eligible project cost (whatever is less).

If awarded a grant, the recipient will be required to supply documentation of a full appropriation of funding mechanisms for the entire cost of the project to qualify. There are no requirements on the size or scope of the project. MassDEP will favor proposals that include a clear description of the applicant’s current asset management status and goals, and those that demonstrate a strong commitment to participate in their AMP.

Apply Today!

Tata & Howard encourages all MA utilities to apply for this special grant funding. Proposals and Project Evaluation Forms are due on August 23, 2019 by 12 pm.

For more detailed information concerning requirements and deadlines, please view the Guidelines for Proposal Submittal and Project Selection provided by MassDEP.

Asset Management

As one of MassDEP’s pre-qualified consulting engineering firms, Tata & Howard provides industry expertise in both Asset Management and funding assistance. For more information on Asset Management or how Tata & Howard can assist with your grant application, visit our website or contact us directly. We are happy to assist.

New Law Affects Small Community Water Systems

Effective October 1, 2018, Connecticut’s Department of Public Health (DPH) is requiring all small community water systems to complete Fiscal and Asset Management Plans by January 1, 2021 and update them annually. This new law effects small water companies that regularly serve communities of at least 25 but not more than 1,000 year-round residents.

The Fiscal and Asset Management Plan must include:

  1. A list of all the system’s capital assets;
  2. The asset’s (a) useful life, based on their current condition, (b) maintenance and service history, and (c) manufacturer’s recommendation;
  3. The small community water system’s plan for reconditioning, refurbishing, or replacing the assets; and
  4. Information on (a) whether the small community water system has any unaccounted-for water loss (i.e., water supplied to its distribution system that never reached consumers), (b) the amount and cause of such unaccounted-for water loss, and (c) measures the system is taking to reduce it.

Under the new law, each small community water system must also complete an initial assessment review of its hydropneumatic pressure tanks by May 2, 2019 on a form developed by the DPH.

Failure to complete or update their fiscal and asset management plans on or before January 1, 2021 maybe subject to civil penalties by DPH.

Compliance Concerns?

Tata & Howard has extensive experience with all facets of asset management planning and programming. Our services focus on condition assessment and analyses of critical capital assets, as well as operational evaluations, water audits to reduce unaccounted-for water, and long-term capital planning.  Initial hydropneumatic pressure tank inspections can be also be performed in time to comply with the DPH deadline of May 2, 2019.

In addition, Tata & Howard can help secure financing through grants, such as those available through the USDA Rural Development Water and Environmental Program.

More Info?

Asset Management

Tata & Howard has assisted numerous Water Companies with their Asset Management Planning.  Please contact us for more information.

State Revolving Fund Loan Program

The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (MassDEP), is now accepting Project Evaluation Forms (PEFs) for new drinking water and wastewater projects seeking financial assistance in 2019 through the State Revolving Fund (SRF).  The SRF offers low interest loan options to Massachusetts cities and towns to help fund their drinking water and clean water projects. PEFs are due to the MassDEP Division of Municipal Services by August 24, 2018, 12:00 PM.

Water Main ReplacementFinancing for The Clean Water SRF Program helps municipalities with federal and state compliance water-quality requirements, focusing on stormwater and watershed management priorities, and green infrastructure. The Drinking Water SRF Program, provides low-interest loans to communities to improve their drinking water safety and water supply infrastructure.

This year, the MassDEP Division of Municipal Services (DMS) announced the following priorities for SRF proposals.

  • Water main rehabilitation projects which include full lead service replacement (to the meter) – this is a high priority for eligibly enhanced subsidy under the Drinking Water SRF.
  • Reducing Per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) contaminants in drinking water.
  • Asset Management Planning to subsidize Clean Water programs.
  • Stormwater Management Planning for MS4 permit compliance and implementation.

In addition, Housing Choice Communities will receive a discount on their SRF interest rate of not less than 1.5%.

Summaries of the Intended Use Plans (IUP), will be published in the fall, which will list the project name, proponents, and costs for the selected projects. After a 30-public hearing and comment period, Congress will decide which programs may receive funding from the finalized IUPs.

To Apply for SRF Financing

Tata & Howard is experienced with the SRF financing process and is available to help municipalities develop Project Evaluation Forms along with supporting documentation, for their local infrastructure needs.

Please contact us for more information.

The MassDEP Division of Municipal Services are accepting Project Evaluation Forms until August 24, 2018 by 12:00 PM.

We Can Help

For more information on the MassDEP State Revolving Fund and assistance preparing a PEF contact us.

Prioritizing Asset Management in Ontario, Canada

water-infrastructureEach municipality and utility is responsible for making sure that its assets, including water, wastewater, and/or stormwater systems, stay in good working order, regardless of the age of its components or the availability of additional funds. This requirement makes properly maintaining and monitoring assets paramount. With limited resources, an asset management plan can help municipalities and utilities maximize the value of their capital as well as their operations and maintenance dollars. Asset management is a scalable approach that can be utilized by all types of systems, of any size.

A Nation’s Infrastructure in Crisis

The 2016 Canadian Infrastructure Report card states that over one-third of Canada’s municipal infrastructure is in fair, poor, or very poor condition, and at risk of rapid decline. With the support of the federal government, Ontario municipalities are embarking on an unprecedented renewal phase of these critical assets, recognizing that Canadians rely on this infrastructure for their quality of life.  The Ministry of Infrastructure released its guide to asset management planning and has made funding available to small, rural, and northern municipalities in Ontario to develop and implement asset management plans.

In addition, as part of the New Building Canada Plan, the renewed federal Gas Tax Fund (GTF) was announced in the 2013 Economic Action Plan as a long-term, stable source of funding for municipal infrastructure. Implemented as a means of addressing the infrastructure funding gap, the GTF will provide $10.4 billion to Canada’s municipalities through 2018. Because Canada recognizes the criticality of an up-to-date asset management plan, the renewed GTF prioritizes long-term capital planning and asset management. The Province of Ontario has moved a step further, actually requiring each municipality to build and implement an asset management plan.

Setting Rates Based on Sound Financial Planning

water-funding It is apparent that financial planning for municipalities and utilities must be based on sound asset condition projections from an engineering and operations perspective – not just financial assumptions. Customers are often adamantly against rate and tax increases; however, these sometimes-unavoidable increases are easier for customers to understand — and accept — when they are backed up with clear data showing exactly what system improvements are needed and why. There are many costs associated with municipality and utility operations and maintenance. One of these is the cost of asset ownership, a cost element not currently present in the audited financial statements of many municipalities and utilities. An asset management approach can aid municipalities and utilities in understanding the true costs associated with ownership and operation along with complying with government regulations.

Budgeting Focused on Critical Activities

An asset management program helps to identify exactly what maintenance and repair work is necessary, eliminating guesswork. Targeting municipalities’ admittedly limited funds to pipes, roads, structures, and other critical assets that are most in need of rehabilitation or replacement, rather than randomly selected  assets, allows municipalities to stretch their infrastructure dollars and to proactively avoid critical asset failure. This methodology also creates the opportunity to utilize the savings to accomplish other system goals. Examples of the opportunities are as follows:

Meeting Consumer Demands with a Focus on System Sustainability

ontario-manhole-coverFinding and detecting failures such as leaks in the system can prevent water loss as well as reduce energy consumption of treating and pumping water that never makes it to the customer. Reducing water loss eases demand on water systems, allowing for smaller, lower cost infrastructure and reducing water shortages. Also, reduced energy consumption allows systems to run greener and more cost-effectively. Thoughtful investments in critical assets can extend the life of those assets by several years, providing a significant return on investment. And by maintaining critical assets rather than prematurely replacing them, customers enjoy better, more consistent service for lower cost.

Better Data Management

Through accurate data collection, municipalities and utilities can expect significant benefits from an asset management approach. Collecting, sharing, and analyzing data about a distribution system helps utilities make better informed decisions on maintaining, rehabilitating, and replacing aging assets. Utilities can also use this data to better communicate with their governing bodies and the public. In addition, asset management helps communicate information across departments and coordinate planning and decision-making related to infrastructure needs and improvement plans.

In Conclusion

There is a difference between a cost and an investment, and asset management is a true investment in municipalities’ and utilities’ future.  It helps systems to provide better service at a lower cost with reduced risk and improved financial planning options. Asset management results in better decision-making and supports the long-term success of a municipality or utility’s mission, goals, and objectives. With Ontario’s groundbreaking legislation, municipalities and utilities now have an unprecedented opportunity to improve and rehabilitate crucial assets with the full support of local government.

Rhonda E. Harris, P.E., MBA, WEF Fellow, IAM Certified

Rhonda E. Harris, P.E., MBA, WEF Fellow, IAM Certified
Vice President and Global Director of Asset Management

Rhonda has over 40 years of experience in managing and administering a variety of facilities and programs in the water environment industry. She has been actively involved on an international level in addressing issues of water and sanitation through leadership and participation in the top water professional organizations in the world. As a Past President of WEF, an elected member of The International Water Academy (TIWA), an Honorary Member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), a member of the Executive Committees of LakeNet and The Inter-American Water Resource Network (IWRN), and participant in a number of additional non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in the water sector, she has worked for change and improvement of the global water environment for many years. She holds a B.S. degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Texas at Arlington, and an M.B.A. degree in Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.

Rhonda can be reached at 214-697-0109 or



Water Distribution Systems in New England


On July 1, 1847, Brattleboro postmaster Frederick Palmer had the idea of putting adhesive on the back of stamps, and so he produced and sold the first gummed postage stamp in America, now known as the 1847 Brattleboro Postmaster’s Provisional stamp.

New England is one of the oldest and most historically rich areas of the nation. Famous events such as the pilgrims founding Plimouth Plantation and Paul Revere’s midnight ride took place in Massachusetts. New Hampshire planted the first potato in America, Maine introduced the nation’s first sawmill, and Vermont produced the nation’s first gummed postage stamp. Connecticut has the most “firsts” of any state in the nation including the first newspaper, submarine, and hamburger, while tiny but mighty Rhode Island was the first colony in the nation to declare independence from Britain. New England also boasts another first: it is home to the nation’s first water distribution systems.

A Brief History

Wooden pipe and fire plug from colonial Boston on display at the Waterworks Museum, Boston, MA.

Boston, Massachusetts became home to the nation’s first waterworks in 1652. Distribution pipes at that time were made of wood, constructed from bored-out logs from the area’s plentiful hemlock and elm trees and attached together with pitch, tar, or iron hoops. While this rudimentary distribution system did supply some of the area’s residents, it was mainly used for fire protection as homes during that time — constructed of wood and heated with fireplaces —were particularly prone to fire.


It was over a century before other New England cities began installing wooden distribution pipes. Providence, Rhode Island, Portsmouth, New Hampshire, and Worcester, Massachusetts all laid wooden pipes during the late 1700s, and several other cities followed suit in the early 1800s. Contrary to some urban myths, wooden pipes are not still in use in any areas of New England today. The high pressure from modern water systems would instantly split any existing wooden pipes. Wooden pipes that are occasionally unearthed during some construction projects were disconnected years ago.


Wooden pipes were problematic for many reasons including warping and sagging, insect infestation, rotting, taste issues, and splitting. As iron became increasingly available during the early 1800s, cities began installing iron pipes. The first iron pipes in New England were installed in Portland, Maine in 1812, followed by Montpelier, Vermont in 1820, and in both instances the pipes were lead. Many other cities followed suit throughout the 19th century, utilizing wrought iron, cast iron, and lead pipe. In the 1950s, ductile iron piping was introduced and boasted the longevity of cast iron with the addition of increased strength, flexibility, and safety. It became widely used in the 1970s and it is still the material of choice throughout New England today.

Distribution Systems Today

Destruction caused by a water main break. Photo copyright Erin Nekervis

New England can be considered a pioneer of our nation’s water infrastructure. After all, distribution systems have grown from a few wooden pipes in Boston to the intricate, complicated underground infrastructure that we enjoy today. However, because much of the area’s infrastructure was laid so long ago, it has reached the end of its useful life. Water main breaks occur daily and are not only inconvenient to customers, they can also be dangerous, as evidenced by the November 2016 water main break in Boston, Massachusetts that caused manhole fires and forced evacuation of the area. Maintaining and updating our distribution systems is critical to the health and safety of our nation, its people, and the economy. But with limited budgets and resources, where do we start?

Tata & Howard provided design, bidding, and construction administration for a water main replacement in Milford, Massachusetts, identified in a Capital Efficiency Plan.

Strategically prioritizing improvements is imperative to today’s water systems, as the rehabilitation and replacement of our nation’s buried infrastructure is an ongoing task. Asset management provides a roadmap for utilities, allowing them to maximize their limited infrastructure dollars by planning for the replacement of critical infrastructure over time. Tata & Howard’s Capital Efficiency Plan™ (CEP) methodology takes it one step further by combining the concepts of asset management, hydraulic modeling, and system criticality into a single comprehensive report. The final report provides utilities with a database and Geographic Information System (GIS) representation for each pipe segment within their underground piping system, prioritizes water distribution system piping improvements, and provides estimated costs for water main replacement and rehabilitation.

Tata & Howard provided water system distribution evaluation as well as design, bidding, and construction administration for a water tank replacement project in Paxton, MA.

Since the firm’s inception in 1992, Tata & Howard has remained a niche firm with deep experience and expertise in the water environment, and has provided CEP and hydraulic modeling services for countless municipalities throughout New England. Tata & Howard has one of the largest pipe asset management databases of any consulting engineering firm in New England. In fact, we have data on over 5,000 miles of New England pipe, providing utilities with critical information about their systems such as condition and probability of failure of certain pipe cohorts.

In Conclusion

Water distribution systems have come a long way since the days of hollowed out logs providing fire protection to colonial Bostonians. The underground network of distribution pipes has grown astronomically and now incorporates safer, stronger, and more cost-effective materials. As distribution systems are updated and expanded, it is critical that accurate, up-to-date information is available to water systems so that they may invest their limited capital wisely.

Canada’s Infrastructure – Investing in the Future

Maple leaf on water with other leaves.It is widely known that America’s infrastructure is in desperate need of repair, rehabilitation, and replacement, and that the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gave water and wastewater infrastructure a “D” grade in its 2013 report card. Contributing to the decline of our buried infrastructure is a combination of aging assets, increasing demand, and decreasing funding. However, America is not alone. Our neighbors to the north are also experiencing an infrastructure crisis and, like the United States, are working together to develop short-term and long-term strategies to ensure that its critical infrastructure continues to successfully function well into the future.

The 2016 Canadian Infrastructure Report Card

Four organizations — the Canadian Construction Association (CCA), the Canadian Public Works Association (CPWA), the Canadian Society for Civil Engineering (CSCE), and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) — came together to assess the health of Canada’s infrastructure. The resulting report, Informing the Future: The 2016 Canadian Infrastructure Report Card (2016 CIRC), provides information to policymakers and stakeholders regarding the state of Canada’s infrastructure and what is needed to maintain and improve it. Additional support for the project came from the Canadian Urban Transit Association, the Federal-Provincial/Territorial Sport, Physical Activity and Recreation Committee, and the Canadian Parks and Recreation Association. One of the overarching goals of the assessment is to ensure the sustainability of the high quality of life that infrastructure brings to the Canadian people. Infrastructure evaluated included water, wastewater, and stormwater infrastructure as well as roads and bridges, buildings, public transit, and recreational facilities.

A key finding in the 2016 CIRC is that over one-third of Canada’s municipal infrastructure is in fair, poor, or very poor condition, and at risk of rapid decline. To prevent this deterioration, investment in the maintenance and repair of failing infrastructure is critical in the short-term. The report also noted that despite the efforts of municipal governments, reinvestment rates in municipal infrastructure are falling behind — a trend which will cause an exponential increase in the overall cost for infrastructure repair and rehabilitation if left unchecked.

Toronto, Ontario, Canada skyline

Because resources are limited, strategic investment into those assets most in need of repair or replacement is paramount. However, a surprising number of Canadian municipalities, particularly smaller systems, lack any type of formal asset management plan. The 2016 CIRC survey results indicate that 62% of large municipalities, 56% of mid-sized municipalities, and only 35% of small municipalities reported having a formal asset management plan in place. And while all communities benefit from an asset management plan that prioritizes capital investment, small municipalities that admittedly have the least amount of resources would likely benefit the most. Additional findings of the report indicate that climate change is not consistently being factored into the decision-making processes of municipalities, and that most municipalities also do not utilize computer-based information to manage and maintain their assets.

The Federal Gas Tax Fund

As part of the New Building Canada Plan, the renewed federal Gas Tax Fund (GTF) was announced in the Economic Action Plan 2013 as a long-term, stable source of funding for municipal infrastructure. Implemented as a means of addressing the infrastructure funding gap, the Gas Tax Fund will provide $10.4 billion to Canada’s municipalities between 2014 and 2018. Because Canada recognizes the criticality of an up-to-date asset management plan, the renewed GTF prioritizes long-term capital planning and asset management. For example, Ontario municipalities will receive $3.8 billion from the GTF between 2014 and 2018, more than any other province; the Association of Municipalities Ontario (AMO) has made the receipt of those funds contingent upon adherence to a new policy. Ontario municipalities are required to develop and implement an asset management plan by December 31, 2016 in order to continue to receive federal GTF payments.

Investing in Canada

Fortunately, Canadians recognize the importance of infrastructure to their way of life and are committed to investing in infrastructure and bridging the infrastructure gap both now and in the future. Budget 2016 saw the newly elected Canadian government, focused on strengthening the middle class, show its firm commitment to Canada’s future growth by making an immediate investment of $11.9 billion into green and social infrastructure as well as public transit. The Fall Economic Statement, released on November 1, 2016, further strengthens that commitment by promising an additional $81.2 billion investment into Canadian infrastructure over 11 years, as follows:

  • Toronto Transit Commission public transit bus in Toronto, Ontario, Canada
    Toronto Transit Commission public transit bus in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

    Public Transit: Faster Commutes and Innovative Communities—$25.3 Billion
    Public transit infrastructure investments will have a greater focus on new, transformative construction and expansion projects that build the transit systems of the 21st century.

  • Green infrastructure: Clean Air, Clean Water—$21.9 Billion
    The federal government will work with its provincial, territorial, municipal, and Indigenous partners to evaluate, select, and fund the green infrastructure projects that will deliver the best outcomes for Canadians.
  • Social Infrastructure: Better Neighborhoods for Our Kids—$21.9 Billion
    Investments in social infrastructure will focus on affordable housing and homelessness prevention, early learning and child care, and cultural and recreational infrastructure.
  • Getting Canadian Products to Global Markets—$10.1 Billion
    The government will make strategic investments in trade and transportation projects that build stronger, more efficient transportation corridors to international markets and help Canadian businesses to compete, grow, and create more jobs for Canada’s middle class.
  • Rural and Northern Communities—$2 Billion
    Through Investing in Canada, the government will provide up to $2 billion to support small, rural, and northern communities with a wide range of infrastructure needs.

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada
Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada

Considering existing infrastructure programs, new investments made in Budget 2016, and the additional investments detailed in the Fall Economic Statement, the Canadian government has committed to investing over $180 billion into its critical infrastructure over the next decade.

The Canada Infrastructure Bank

The Canadian government has also announced that it is launching the new Canada Infrastructure Bank to provide low-cost financing and small capital contributions for necessary infrastructure projects. $35 billion has been earmarked for large infrastructure projects that directly contribute to economic growth, $15 billion of which will be sourced from the previously announced funding for green and social infrastructure, public transit, trade and transportation, and rural and northern communities. The remaining $20 billion will be available to the Bank for investments that result in the Bank holding assets in the form of equity or debt, and will therefore have no fiscal impact on the government.

In Conclusion

Much of Canada’s infrastructure, like our own here in America, is reaching the end of its useful life and is in desperate need of repair or replacement. The Canadian people and government recognize that infrastructure plays a critical role in maintaining the high quality of life to which Canadians are accustomed. Through increased asset management, targeted investment, a committed government, and a long-term, sustainable plan, Canada is well positioning itself for future growth and prosperity.


Why Water and Wastewater Utilities Must Practice Operational Efficiency

Efficiency-300x209Water and wastewater utilities across the country face common challenges. These include rising costs, aging infrastructure, increasingly stringent regulatory requirements, population changes, and a rapidly changing workforce. While many utilities find themselves turning from one urgent priority to the next, others have implemented effective operational efficiency initiatives that have helped them enhance the stewardship of their infrastructure, improve performance in many critical areas, and respond to current and future demands. Improved efficiency is not just beneficial to a utility’s bottom line – it benefits everyone in a community.

Infrastructure Stability

Utilities who implement operational efficiency understand the condition of and costs associated with critical infrastructure assets. This allows them to maintain and enhance the condition of their infrastructure over the long-term at the lowest possible life-cycle cost consistent with customer, community, anticipated growth, and system reliability goals. Efficient utility management assures infrastructure repair, rehabilitation, and replacement projects are coordinated in order to minimize disruptions in service or other negative consequences.

Enhanced Employee Leadership Development

teamwork-300x181A common problem facing many utilities today is a retiring work force. By implementing operational efficiency now, utilities can recruit and retain a workforce that is competent, adaptive, and correctly trained to take on leadership roles of their own. Through communication and effective training, utility owners and operators can create an organization focused on continual learning and improvement. This ensures employee knowledge is retained and improved upon. Over time, senior knowledge and best practices will be passed along to promote a well-coordinated senior leadership team who understands their system and the needs of its customers.

When employees or operators of water and wastewater systems are knowledgeable enough to solve problems themselves, it allows managers to focus more on the entire utility versus consistently fixing small problems. Managers are then free to focus on internal operations, better management practices, improving water and effluent quality, and other areas of priority.

Managing Reliable Data through Operational Efficiency

Coupled with excellent communication throughout utility staff, data collection is an area of operational efficiency that helps utilities meet demand and plan for the future. With the collection of accurate, reliable data and the tools to analyze the information, utilities can prioritize actions and capitalize on their efforts. This allows them to understand the demands of their service areas and ensure sufficient supply is available. By more efficiently identifying contributors to non-revenue water, such as system leaks, aging assets, and unauthorized usage, utilities can reduce operational expenses and uncover new revenue streams. They can also provide their customers with access to that same set of information, making it possible for them to understand and manage their consumption. This delivers benefits to the entire organization, including billing, customer service, operations, engineering, and distribution, and empowers utilities to address conservation and revenue opportunities.

Reduced Vulnerability to Climate Changes

solution-chalkboard-concept-300x200Some practices that utilities are implementing greatly help to improve resiliency and reduce vulnerability to an ever changing climate. Internal practices and initiatives such as energy conservation, solar energy, and utilizing heat transformed into energy from sewage and digestion have helped utilities rely less on the grid and more on their own operations. This is especially beneficial considering the ever-increasing price of energy. Reducing energy use significantly lowers operational costs for utilities – freeing up dollars for future initiatives or infrastructure improvements. Utilities who practice operational efficiency understand that making internal practices more efficient results in the entire distribution system becoming more efficient.

All Around Flexibility for Utilities

Practicing operational efficiency can greatly improve all around flexibility for water and wastewater systems. Knowing your distribution system and operating it to your specific community’s needs is a huge advantage in dealing with costly dilemmas that occur with infrastructure. In places that see seasonal spikes in water usage, operational efficiency allows a utility to adjust and operate more effectively during peak times as well as during the “off-season.” Practicing operational efficiency also allows a utility to better deal with issues in their distribution system without disrupting service to customers.

In Conclusion

To meet continually increasing challenges, utilities must become more efficient in the way they manage their resources, address demands on their infrastructure, and monitor data throughout their systems. The implementation of improved operational efficiency helps utilities ensure ongoing, timely, cost-effective, reliable, and sustainable performance improvements in all facets of its operations.