Launch Slideshow

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Mission: possible

Mission: possible

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    Developing a strategic plan should be a team effort, with municipal officials, utility managers, staff, and other stakeholders contributing. Photo: Stantec Consulting Inc.

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    Much like a business plan for its future, cities and towns must also look ahead regarding their utilities. Photo: Stantec Consulting Inc.

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    A good strategic plan provides guidance for all stakeholders, from city officials down to operations staff.

A NewWater Plan

Norfolk, Mass., turns its water department upside-down.

A few years ago, the town of Norfolk, Mass., wanted to expand the distribution system of its water utility, which serves 6500 people with only two groundwater supplies. At the same time, the town's water superintendent and his office manager were both retiring. Norfolk's part-time, volunteer Board of Water Commissioners needed a vision of the future to help guide them through these changes. They decided to generate a strategic plan at a cost of $5000 (including preliminary meetings, strategic planning session, report completion, and follow-up).

The plan focused on:

  • Providing for staff transitions
  • Developing additional water supplies
  • Improving operational efficiency
  • Becoming more “customer-focused.”

The results:

  • The agency transitioned from a separate water department to a division of the department of public works.
  • They added another licensed operator and used other department of public works employees to support repair work.
  • They engaged a private contract firm to provide a water system manager to oversee operations and manage the town staff.
  • Town officials began negotiations with neighboring towns for additional water supplies.