The City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (DWM) Strategic Plan 2022

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City of Atlanta Department of

Watershed Management

Strategic Plan 2022: A One Water Vision TABLE OF CONTENTS 3 Opening Thoughts From the Mayor 4 From the Commissioner 5 Introduction 6 Departmental Overview 11 Industry Trends and Water Sector Utility Challenges 12 Vision|Mission|Values 14 The Effective Utility Management

16 SWOT Analysis 19 Service Delivery 23 Infrastructure Reliability 27 Workforce Development 31 Operational Efficiency 35 Financial Resiliency 39 Compliance 43 Smart Utility

(EUM) Initiative 15 Strategic Direction

47 Safety and Security 50 Looking Ahead: Implementation


Keisha Lance bottoms MAYOR

October 27, 2018 Each day, more than one million residents and visitors in Atlanta depend on the availability of clean drinking water. Our many businesses require an uninterrupted flow of water to operate efficiently. The need for a comprehensive plan to ensure our public water service is essential. That is why I am proud to introduce the City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management’s Strategic Plan 2022: One Water Vision. This innovative approach to addressing and managing our city’s water supply will enhance our sustainability, strengthen our water infrastructure and ensure its viability for future generations of Atlantans. Clean water is a basic necessity. As you will see with this plan, the City of Atlanta is committed to providing and protecting this natural resource for all our residents, visitors and businesses.

Thank you,

Keisha Lance Bottoms

FROM THE COMMISSIONER Though the water system serving Atlanta dates back to 1875, the Department of Watershed Management is just 16 years old. Largely established to manage the responsibilities of two wet weather consent decrees, and consolidation of water and wastewater operations, we’ve grown from $246M to over $600M in annual water and sewer revenue to support an annual operating budget of $617M, a 5-YR capital program of $1.26B and management of assets valued at more than $5B. I count it an honor and privilege to lead the Department at what we believe is a pivotal point in our history. For the first time, the Department will have a strategic plan that will serve as a roadmap to achieve our vision of being a leading utility in innovation, service and value. To achieve this vision, it will require us to prioritize the allocation of our resources, become more disciplined and strategic in our decision making and focus on executing programs and initiatives that are shaping the future of our utility. Following the engagement of more than 150 inspired and motivated team members, and incorporating two years of customer and stakeholder feedback, we are honored to present Strategic Plan 2022: A One Water Vision, which sets out our plan for 2019 to 2022. SP 2022 defines the core services of the Department and eight strategic priorities that will lead to operational efficiencies and improved customer service. Most importantly, it establishes our core values as one team. This plan builds on the transformation in service level achievement that we are proud to deliver to our customers. Our list of strategic priorities, goals and initiatives have not only been shaped by the input of our customers and employees, but also the Ten Attributes of an Effectively Managed Utility – a framework of best practices that is meant to guide performance improvement for water sector utilities. In 2017, the Department developed a process of performance management and accountability that keeps us focused on the outcomes that our customers and stakeholders care about the most. These outcomes have been tied to key performance indicators (KPIs) that are monitored on a continuous basis and compared to industry benchmarks. This roadmap will inform how we address key challenges from climate change to infrastructure adequacy, while leveraging opportunities in workforce development, integrated planning and stakeholder engagement. In order to adapt to emerging issues, the Department is adopting a sustainable business approach. One where we continue to be good stewards of the environment and the resources under our care to meet our customer and stakeholder needs now and well into the future. SP 2022 is a plan that delivers for our customers, for Atlanta and the region we serve. The utility is on its way to achieving our vision because of the hard work and dedication of our employees and the support of our Mayor. Over the course of 16 years, the Department of Watershed Management has matured into a regional public water utility. We have been recognized as a Leading Utility of the World and honored with a Sustainable Water Utility Management Award, but nothing beats assuring the trust of our 1.2 million customers. On behalf of Team Watershed, thank you for allowing us to serve. Yours in Service, Kishia L. Powell, Commissioner City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management

INTRODUCTION The City of Atlanta Department of Watershed Management (DWM or Department) has developed a strategic plan that will inform our decisions, guide our actions and inspire us to build on the legacy of a water system that dates back to the 1870s. The ultimate goals for our strategic plan are to meet the needs of our customers by ensuring access to safe, clean drinking water while investing in infrastructure to improve our resilience, make operations more efficient and facilitate the continued growth and economic prosperity of the City of Atlanta and the region we serve.


OVERVIEW DWM is comprised of six major offices which carry out the core functions of the utility; in addition, there are seven administrative divisions for support services. The Office of Financial Administration is responsible for all aspects of financial management, including financial planning and budgeting capital program financial management, determination of rates, fees, and charges, inter-jurisdictional billing, accounting, collections, and tracking expenditures. DWM’s procurement planning division is under the Office of Financial Administration as well as the sale of meters and the Department’s affordability program, Care and Conserve. The Office of Customer Care and Billing Services is responsible for customer service operations including customer relations, meter field operations, and billing services. DWM’s Customer Assurance and Satisfaction Team (or CAST) handles escalated service requests by interfacing with the customer and the operating units to ensure the work is completed and the customer is satisfied with the resolution. This Office is also responsible for reviewing billing adjustment requests and any requests for scheduling a Water and Sewer Appeals Board hearing. The Office of Water Treatment and Reclamation is responsible for drinking water production and wastewater treatment. Drinking water production includes the operation and maintenance of water supply


intakes, two drinking water treatment plants, drinking water storage (both raw water and finished water), and pumping stations. Wastewater treatment includes the operation and maintenance of three permitted wastewater treatment (reclamation) facilities, six combined sewer (including water quality control) facilities, and sixteen sewage pumping stations. This Office leads our coordination for the Tom Lowe AtlantaFulton County Water Treatment Plant that is operated and maintained under a separate contract and jointly owned with Fulton County. The Office of Linear Infrastructure Operations (“OLIO”) is responsible for operating, maintaining, and repairing the City’s 2,790 miles of water distribution lines, 2,150 miles of wastewater collection system sewers, and system appurtenances, including maintaining system reliability and compliance. In the event of asset failure, OLIO provides rapid response to minimize impacts to the community and the environment. OLIO’s operations include managing a work order system to schedule, track, and report on work in response to technical customer service requests and linear infrastructure emergency maintenance needs including water main breaks and sanitary sewer failures. The OLIO team also coordinates with the Department of Public Works to provide for cleaning and clearing the City’s separate storm sewer system to prevent or relieve flooding. New meter installations are performed by OLIO.


The Office of Watershed Protection has primary responsibility for oversight of the City’s stormwater management program including Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit compliance and other functions that support the improvement and protection of surface water quality in the City’s waterways including the Fats, Oils and Grease (FOG) program; Industrial Pretreatment Program; Development Services (stormwater management, erosion and sediment control, and site plan reviews); and Watershed Management (flow monitoring, water quality monitoring and stream walks). This Office serves as DWM’s oversight of all compliance programs to ensure a comprehensive and cohesive approach for permit and regulatory compliance including monitoring, tracking and reporting measures. Watershed Protection is also engaged in regional planning coordination and implementation of water conservation measures. This Office provides laboratory services through our EPA certified facility to test and monitor raw water, drinking water and wastewater quality on a continuous basis. Watershed Protection coordinates design, construction, operations, and maintenance of stormwater


management assets including green infrastructure measures. The Office of Engineering Services is responsible for development and implementation of water and wastewater masterplans that serve as a basis for DWM’s five-year Capital Improvement Program. The Office has oversight of the City’s drinking water, wastewater, and combined sewer systems capital program implementation from planning and design through construction. Engineering Services also provides project management support for implementation of capital projects for watershed protection, green infrastructure and stormwater management. In addition to capital program management, this Office is responsible for DWM’s asset management program, water and sewer system reviews for development services, technical support for the water and wastewater facilities and linear infrastructure operations as well as geographic information systems.


SERVICE AREA DWM provides drinking water for up to 1.2 million people each day. The water service area includes the City of Atlanta, several cities outside of Atlanta and parts of unincorporated Fulton County. DWM provides collection and treatment of wastewater in accordance with State and Federal regulations including the strict requirements of two federal consent decrees that have been

in place since the late 1990s. The wastewater service area includes the City of Atlanta, Northwest DeKalb County, a small portion of Clayton County, and parts of North and South Fulton County. DWM provides stormwater services to the entire City through a system of 500 miles of pipe and over 50,000 inlets and outfall structures.

City of Atlanta

Drinking Water 2 Water Treatment Plants located within City limits Serving 1.2 million people each day 2,790 miles of water mains in distribution system

WTP Retail Wholesale



City of Atlanta

Wastewater Collection Service Area 3 permitted water Reclamation Centers (WRCs) 2,150 miles of sewers

City of Atlanta

Watershed Basins 10 watershed basins 35% of stormwater infrastructure within City of Atlanta is the responsibility of municipal government



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WATER SECTOR UTILITY CHALLENGES The American Water Works Association (AWWA) produces an annual State of the Water Industry (SOTWI) Report, which is a deep dive into the issues facing the sector and a roadmap for water professionals as they navigate the challenges of the future. Since the report began in 2004, more than 25,000 responses have highlighted the trends and concerns that impact the sector. The results of the 2018 survey revealed that industry leaders are still having many of the same challenges identified in 2004, particularly aging infrastructure, financing for capital improvements, and long-term water supply availability. The survey also takes a closer look at topics such as resource management, planning, data management, innovation, and – in an unprecedented year of hurricanes, floods, and fires -- emergency preparedness. The highlights of challenges and trends identified in the 2018 SOTWI report include: • Renewal and replacement of infrastructure and financing for capital improvements; • 25 percent of respondents reporting difficulty in covering the full cost of providing services;

• Aging workforce and talent retention concerns. In addition to the industry trends and water sector challenges identified in the SOTWI report, DWM has identified the following immediate issues: • Aging infrastructure • Regulatory and funding uncertainties • Compliance challenges • Impacts of climate change • Risk management planning • Knowledge management and retention • An aging workforce – 48% retirement eligibility over next 5 to 10 years With advances in technology; data management and analytics; sustainable and energy-efficient resource utilization and recovery; a more skilled, diverse and innovative workforce; and a renewed emphasis on meaningful engagement with customers and stakeholders, DWM’s SP 2022 is the roadmap needed to address current and future challenges and set us on the path of being a Utility of the Future.

• Non-point source pollution as a top regulatory concern, followed by disinfection by-products; • Cybersecurity risks; and


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VISION To distinguish ourselves as leaders in innovation, service and value.

MISSION • Delivering excellent customer service through a motivated, skilled, and empowered Workforce • Ensuring treatment and delivery of high quality drinking water, as well as collection and reclamation of wastewater to a high standard, while implementing innovative solutions for resource recovery • Sustainable stormwater management, integrated planning and mitigation of the adverse impacts of flooding, while leveraging partnerships to protect, restore and enhance our watersheds • Building the capacity to be a strong partner in the resilience of our City

VALUES Teamwork: focusing our collective strengths to deliver service Integrity: adhering to high ethical standards; doing the right thing, at the right time, for the right reasons Customer Centric: understanding needs and delivering on our promises Accountability: accepting responsibility for our actions Employee Commitment: valuing our employees as our most valuable resource

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The Effective Utility Management (EUM) Initiative, launched in 2007, has been used by a growing number of utilities across the U.S. to improve operational performance. EUM has been recognized by the collaborating water sector organizations as the best way to promote sustainable water and wastewater systems.

Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities The EUM Initiative identifies Ten Attributes of effectively managed water sector utilities, which describe desired outcomes that are applicable to all water and wastewater utilities. The attributes provide an indication of where effectively managed utilities focus and what they strive to achieve. The attributes emerged from an extensive analysis by

Service Delivery

collaborating organizations of current utility management practices and discussions with leaders in the utility industry regarding what they viewed as promising developments in utility management efforts. These attributes served as the discussion points for the development of this strategic plan.


Product Quality


Infrastructure Reliability

Customer Satisfaction


Workforce Development

Employee and Leadership Development


Operational Optimization

Operational Efficiency


Financial Viability

Financial Resiliency


Infrastructure Strategy and Performance


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Smart Utility


Safety & Security


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Enterprise Resiliency

Community Sustainability

Water Resource Adequacy

Stakeholder Understanding and Support



DIRECTION SP 2022: A ONE WATER VISION This plan conveys DWM’s vision, mission, and values, as well as the goals, objectives, and initiatives to help ensure continued success in operations and management of the utility. The plan also represents intra-departmental collaboration. It is designed as a lasting framework that will undergo updates as goals, objectives and initiatives are realized, and the organization moves forward and circumstances change. The vision describes the desired future state and guides the organization toward the Utility of the Future; while the mission describes the purpose of the organization and its role within the service area. Values articulate the deeply-held beliefs, norms, and qualities of the Department, and are the basis from which each team member should operate. As part of the SP 2022 planning process, over 150 DWM team members contributed to the development of this plan, participating in facilitated work sessions to review DWM’s activities, assess strengths and weaknesses, understand and discuss industry trends, review ‘best practice’ guidance from the Effective Utility Management Primer (published by water and wastewater associations and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)), and then formulate priority goals, objectives and initiatives.


The team’s assessment of the organization’s Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats (SWOT) was an internal selfassessment, and was used in the strategic planning process to identify areas of focus. The strategic priorities, objectives and initiatives presented later in this plan were tailored specifically to address weaknesses, to defend against threats, and to leverage the Department’s strengths and opportunities. The strategic planning process yielded eight strategic priority areas for the Department’s focus over the coming months and years. These strategic priorities represent the areas that we believe are essential for a leading water and wastewater utility. The eight priority areas are: • Service Delivery • Infrastructure Reliability • Workforce Development • Operational Efficiency • Financial Resiliency • Compliance • Smart Utility • Safety and Security This plan presents goals and objectives for each of the eight strategic priority areas; as well as the associated initiatives. Efforts are underway to launch these strategic initiatives, as the Department strives to distinguish ourselves as leaders in innovation, service and value.

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ANALYSIS As part of DWM’s strategic planning process, the Watershed Team identified the internal and external factors that have an impact on delivering the core services and achieving the mission of our utility. A SWOT Analysis is a study undertaken by an organization to identify it’s strengths, and weakenesses, as well as it’s opportunities and threats.

· Financial stability · Expertise · Strong leadership team · Rapid growth · Great employee benefits · Engaged informed stakeholders · Motivated workforce · Exciting/ innovative projects · Strong bond rating · Compliance · Strong identity · Investment in assets · Deliver clean water consistently · Customer confidence in the safety of the water · Quality product · Diverse workforce

· Aging infrastructure · Inefficient & redundant systems · Ineffective use of technology · Internal & external customer service · Procurement process · Communication · Aging workforce · Inconsistent processes · Employee retention · Public perception · Stagnant wages

· Embracing new technology · Capital improvements · Improve internal & external communication · Total rewards program (compensation, benefits, other rewards for hard work) · Energized leadership · Growing community outreach program · Career path · Employee development · Business opportunities · Collaboration with unions · Growing city · Possibility of establishing a stormwater utility

· Cyber attacks · Growing regulatory pressures · Resistance to change · Retirement eligibility rate · Limited funding · Political pressures · Terrorism · Physical security threats


Deliver highly-effective customer service and outreach to all classes of customers through the use of technology and proactive communications.

Many organizations, including utilities, have a renewed focus on service delivery. In recent years, utilities have become acutely focused on incorporating and improving customer initiatives to enhance the overall customer experience. The Effective Utility Management framework lists customer satisfaction as a key attribute for success, specifically understanding customer needs and expectations. Service delivery intersects with every aspect of the utility, from product

quality to financial viability. Water utilities experience challenges with customer perception of value versus cost of providing safe drinking water, implementing capital improvements, deploying technology for accuracy and customer convenience, and workforce development. It is the Department’s goal to deliver highly-effective customer service and outreach to all classes of customers through the use of technology and proactive communication.

SERVICE DELIVERY OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Improve responsiveness and resolution of issues

Utilize customer experience mapping to identify gaps in business processes and opportunities for improvement throughout the Department. Develop and implement a service delivery improvement action plan to reduce turnaround time for responding to or completing repairs for customers. Identify Customer Experience Champions within each office. Establish a rapid response team with dedicated investigators. Provide annual staff training on workflow protocols and customer service to educate staff involved in responding to customer issues.

Improve access to billing information and consumption trends

Implement technology system enhancements and upgrades to service-related software platforms (Service Order Management, enQuesta, etc.) Develop and implement customer conveniences such as selfservice options via web, mobile app, kiosk, and additional service locations. Transition to Automated Metering Infrastructure, smart meters, and other innovations which will provide greater access to billing and consumption detail.

Improve communications to all stakeholders focused on the value of DWM’s core services and DWM’s role as an anchor institution in the community

Enhance DWM’s ability for two-way customer communication, including webforms on the website, responding to customer issues via social media, and enrolling customers on DWM’s mailing list at community events. Launch campaign for customers to update their contact information to ensure accuracy of records and improve outreach and emergency communication. Create a “Welcome Package” for new customers to educate on DWM’s core services, plus provide contact information, helpful tips, process for establishing service, bill payment options, and other frequently asked questions. Develop and share DWM’s Customer Commitment Policy to clearly articulate the service levels customers can expect from the Department.

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OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Increase customer engagement and recognition of DWM’s mission, values, and priorities


Develop communications that include community and stakeholder outreach activities to demonstrate DWM’s mission, values, and priorities. Provide quarterly training for Public Information Officers (PIO) assigned to project communications to ensure consistency in communication protocols.

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Plan for and sufficiently invest in our infrastructure assets to facilitate full compliance with regulatory requirements, including the public health needs of our stakeholders and protection of our environmental resources.

In past years, much of the Department’s focus has been on consent decree compliance. With the time extension of Atlanta’s consent decree, the Department has renewed it’s focus to address deferred maintenance at the water/wastewater facilities and further increase investments in the water distribution system. The Department’s goal is to plan for and sufficiently invest in infrastructure assets to protect public health and the environment, comply with regulatory requirements, and

provide reliable and sustainable services to customers. The Department has completed the initial consent decree and continues to make progress on the remaining first amended consent decree. This priority is aimed at improving the reliability of infrastructure following the framework laid out in DWM’s Asset Management Program for water, sewer, and stormwater assets, as well as the implementation of the Department’s five-year Capital Improvement Program.

INFRASTRUCTURE RELIABILITY OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Minimize the number and duration of service disruptions, and impacts of infrastructure failures and inadequacies

Increase the investment in water and stormwater infrastructure. Deploy laptops and smart devices with mobile apps to field crews for access to centralized asset and equipment information in the field. Operational efficiency for real-time responses and effective resolutions. Identify and implement plans for critical, short-term maintenance requirements. Maintain an appropriate inventory of parts and equipment to complete preventive maintenance activities and to address emergency maintenance.

Deliver the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) on time, within budget, and in compliance with performance criteria

Conduct annual reviews and re-prioritization of the Capital Improvement Program (CIP) alignment with the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Integrated Planning Framework and DWM’s Triple Bottom Line criteria. Develop and maintain a cost-loaded master CIP schedule with semi-annual updates to CIP book and Smart H2O dashboard.

Execute all CIP projects using DWM’s Project Delivery System governance program and e-Builder as the repository for all project data and reporting.

Monitor capital program implementation including scope, schedule and budget.

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OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Maintain updated master plans to inform equitable infrastructure investments that are aligned with anticipated growth, community needs, and resilience

Optimize the use of green infrastructure for capacity relief, reduction of flooding and climate change adaptation in a manner that is equitable and that protects the fabric of the community. Prepare updates to the water, wastewater and watershed protection masterplans to incorporate strategies from the Resilient Atlanta Plan, the Atlanta City Design Plan and in alignment with the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Resources Management Plan. Implement a strategy to capture community needs that require public infrastructure investment. Prioritize future capital expenditures in alignment with the current 2022 Strategic Priorities and DWM’s Integrated Utility Plan (IUP); also include economic, environmental, social, and sustainability goals and ensure compliance with new requirements of the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District.

Using an adaptive management approach, implement the Department’s new Asset Management Plan to deliver an optimum level of service at the lowest lifecycle costs

Utilize data analytics and optimization tools to define and prioritize asset repair, rehabilitation, and replacement projects to maximize useful life at the lowest possible life-cycle cost. Implement DWM’s comprehensive Asset Management Program, including preventive maintenance programs and projects to optimize the life-cycle of all infrastructure assets. Develop an asset risk and criticality assessment for prioritization of needed repairs and rehabilitation and to mitigate failure of system components. Establish a comprehensive infrastructure plan that includes an asset inventory, capacity analysis, preventive maintenance strategies, renewal and replacement criteria; and other measures for decision making. Incorporate asset management-based project delivery strategies as part of capital planning and implementation.


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Build a pipeline of highly skilled workers and leverage the skills of current employees to meet our business demands and customer expectations.

DWM, like other utilities, face the challenges of an aging Workforce, limited availability of qualified experienced candidates, and the impacts of technology. DWM currently has more than 1400 employees with 48 percent of those employees eligible for retirement in the next five to ten years. The Department’s goal is to develop a pipeline to recruit highly skilled workers while leveraging the skills of current employees to meet DWM’s business demands and customer expectations. To effectively address Workforce challenges, the Department is focused on recruiting

qualified staff for vacant positions in addition to training, developing, and retaining existing employees. The Department has worked with other leaders and industry professionals to elevate this issue to Congress, collaborating with local technical colleges to develop water and wastewater curriculum and programs, and implementing the Department’s Workforce Development Program (StreamWork). The overall goal of StreamWork is to serve as the framework for all departmental recruitment, retention, and training efforts.

WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Recruit and retain a competent, diverse, and skilled workforce

Partner with local schools, community groups, and industry affiliates, including restructuring DWM’s current K-12 program, to increase participation and knowledge of water sector careers. Coordinate with the City’s Department of Human Resources to develop a sourcing plan that creates partnerships with local nonprofits, workforce development agencies, and technical schools. Develop an apprenticeship program to improve DWM’s ability to recruit and retain highly qualified candidates possessing the necessary technical skills. Review compensation plans to ensure internal equity and comparable pay relative to other utilities in the region.

Develop and implement strategies that prepare and align existing employees with available and emerging career opportunities; building core competencies to effectively achieve the utility’s mission

Develop a matrix to communicate required certifications and education for each operational classification utilized in DWM. Improve implementation of the City’s performance management tools to assess performance across the organization. Engage employees in employment experience mapping to improve employment-related processes.

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OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Develop and Implement Succession Plans for key departmental position to improve knowledge management

Engage with best-in-class peer utilities to share knowledge and implement best practices in knowledge retention. Develop a succession plan for mission critical and hard to fill positions. Develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) per operational job task.

Identify all related training and credentialing requirements to address current and future workforce needs


Identify mission-critical classifications and develop a technical training program that enables employees to obtain required skills. Establish a training committee to help maintain visibility to ongoing compliance and training needs.

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Efficient delivery of core services to customers through ongoing, timely, cost-effective, and sustainable improvements in all facets of operations.

Operational efficiency is a core tenant for the Department of Watershed Management. With a service population greater than one million individuals and the responsibility for millions of dollars in revenue and billions in assets, it is critical the Department meets its goal to deliver superior performance and service to customers through ongoing, timely, cost-effective, and sustainable improvements in all facets of operations. To optimize limited resources, the Department

will continue to explore opportunities to gain greater efficiencies within its enterprise operation through performance evaluations and improvements. This includes continued focus on workflow process technology and information management improvements. The Department will continue its use of data to drive management decisions and operational improvements as well as transition to a smart utility.

OPERATIONAL EFFICIENCY OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Perform continuous work process reviews to identify and implement efficiency improvements

Develop and implement SOPs based on industry best practices for organizational and critical functional areas and record them in a central, accessible area to be shared, reviewed, and adjusted periodically. Examine operation and maintenance budget reduction opportunities to maximize cash-financed maintenance projects and minimize interest payments. Consistently conduct performance reviews of key organizational areas and critical functions to identify key performance indicators (KPIs), assess performance, and recommend improvements. Implement capital improvements that will result in reductions of operation and maintenance expenditures (e.g., energy conservation projects).

Identify and support sustainable performance improvements using data management and reporting to stakeholders

Expand the ‘WaterStat’ program to develop and report on additional operational performance measures for all DWM operations. Implement performance reporting and dashboards to assist in making operational decisions. Identify and catalog all data sources and formats and create standardized processes and centralized repositories for data collection and reporting. Implement mobile apps to make information available to internal stakeholders.

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OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Implement organization development strategies to improve day-to-day operations

Implement planned change management approach to adopt a culture of efficiency and continuous improvement.

Identify smart solutions to improve operations

Implementation of initiatives under the Smart Utility strategy.


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Responsibly manage the full life-cycle costs of the utility; establishing and maintaining an effective balance between long-term debt, asset value, operating revenues and operational and maintenance expenditures; resulting in predictable rates consistent with community and regulatory expectations to adequately invest in current and future needs.

As an enterprise operation of the City, the Department of Watershed Management must be fully self-sustaining to fund the cost of service for operation and maintenance, and investment in capital improvements. The financial health of the utility depends upon sustainable funding and financial resiliency. To attain financial resiliency, the Department must responsibly manage the full life-cycle costs of the utility. DWM must establish and maintain an effective balance between long-term debt, asset value, operating revenues, and operational and maintenance expenditures that results in predictable rates consistent with community and regulatory expectations to invest in current and future needs. For the Department to provide the highest level of service, limited funds must

be allocated where they are most effective. This priority seeks to ensure that financial, physical, and labor resources are responsibly and cost-effectively allocated to fulfill the Department’s mission. To achieve this, the Department must connect its budgeting processes with risk-based asset management priorities and long-term watershed management priorities. Specifically, the Department will continue the use of its Strategic Financial model that predicts long-term revenue collection and debt management to enable data-driven financial decision making related to budgeting, reporting, project planning, and resource allocation. This effort will improve operational efficiencies.

FINANCIAL RESILIENCY OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Assure efficient and cost effective access to the capital markets

Initiate annual rating agency outreach to communicate results of financial planning process.

Annually evaluate market conditions for project financing or debt refunding opportunities to determine potential cost savings.

Identify and pursue additional revenue and funding sources

Submit annual requests for low-interest loans from Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA). Pursue state and federal funding sources including Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA), US Army Corps of Engineers, and philanthropic funding and grants to increase the percentage of external funds used to fund capital improvements. Evaluate and assess other service charges to determine if charges reflect cost of service (i.e., sludge disposal, grease management inspections, meter charges/tap fees, large meter installations, multi-check fees, meter fees for corporations, and meter resets/reestablishments). Assess and evaluate existing rates and charges (Intergovernmental Jurisdictional rates). Identify new revenue streams (biosolids, stormwater utility, monetizing data, grease recycling and cogen/receiving facilities).

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OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Optimize the current customer affordability programs to adequately address affordability issues

Assess both Care and Conserve and Senior Citizen Discount programs for possible expansion.

Engage in the national discussion on affordability.

Implementation of outcomebased budgeting


Establish an outcome-based budgeting process tied to KPIs to prioritize funding allocation.

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Fulfill our compliance and resilience requirements by focusing on the triple bottom line of fiscal responsibility, environmental stewardship, and social betterment.

Federal, state and local governments, as well as individual citizens recognize there is a need to provide safe and reliable access to clean water. The City of Atlanta understands these responsibilities are not just related to the individual services and functions provided, but are highly interdependent, and the effects are not just local, but regional. For these reasons, the City established the Department of Watershed Management, rather than a typical water/sewer authority, to reflect the integrated natural systems that affect and are affected by public health needs and environmental protection. DWM is responsible for ensuring the City

is compliant with the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Clean Water Act, including the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) stormwater requirements. Through the Department’s Clean Water Atlanta program, the program focused on compliance and implementation of the federal consent decrees, DWM continues to make progress to improve surface water quality and the condition of the sewer system. The Department’s goal of compliance encompasses the triple bottom line of fiscal responsibility, environmental stewardship, and social betterment.

COMPLIANCE OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Focus resources on meeting, or exceeding environmental and water quality compliance commitments by prioritizing asset management and triple bottom line principals

Continue implementation strategies and processes that will enable the City to complete its commitments under the first amended consent decree within the current schedule.

Implement operational and capital improvements to reduce fines and penalties associated with non-compliance. Develop and implement an integrated strategy for management and reduction of waste products associated with providing safe drinking water, treating wastewater, and managing facilities.

Improve work processes to effectively monitor permit compliance measures.

Establish and implement programs and practices to the benefit of land, air, and water to protect the public’s health, welfare, and the environment

Develop and implement operational initiatives to reduce (volume of and repeat) sanitary sewer overflows (SSO) to meet reduction targets.

Establish and maintain a safe and reliable 30-day emergency water supply.

Consolidate and implement water loss prevention programs to minimize the amount of annual water loss.

Using an integrated planning approach, continue implementation of DWM’s Green Infrastructure Strategic Action Plan, in close collaboration with the Clean Water Atlanta Consent Decree compliance program.

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OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Provide educational and informational resources and opportunities for public participation by interested parties

Develop and implement a program to ensure participation of external stakeholders within the compliance planning process.

Cultivate collaborative relationships with the regulatory community to facilitate effective communications

Continue regular communications with regulators and other stakeholders.

Develop and implement an environmental compliance communication plan to include website updates, social media updates, community meetings, newsletters, etc.

Establish regular meetings with regulators to continuously review compliance measures and progress in meeting required milestones and permit requirements. Review state and federal agency priorities for compliance enforcement measures.


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Leverage innovation, information technology, operational technology, and process technology to optimize the use and management of investment and human capital to improve financial, operational, and customer service performance and resiliency.

Due to the emergence and proliferation of innovative technologies and readily available data, the way utilities operate is constantly evolving. While utilities have benefitted from technology and information systems advancements in recent years, many have struggled to effectively and sustainably develop and capitalize on these types of investments. To become “smart�, utilities must fully leverage the opportunities of digital and process technologies in a strategic and prioritized way to delight their customers, optimize their workforce and business activities, upgrade and

maintain critical infrastructure, and deploy or conserve limited resources. Properly designing and merging enterprise systems and operational technologies promotes greater business insight, decision making, and operational resilience across the entire Department through the integration and analysis of information and data. Considering and appropriately incorporating process technology advancements such as renewable energy technologies into capital investments will also positively impact operations and overall utility resilience.

SMART UTILITY OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Develop and promote a sustainable plan to effectively integrate information technology and operational technology and associated data in day-today operations of the utility

Conduct an innovation maturity assessment to define DWM’s innovation goals and future state, including identification of best practices in smart utilities. Evaluate alternatives and solutions for successfully delivering the future state, and develop a smart utility implementation plan to put in place prioritized changes to ensure the organization, culture, and programs are set-up for success. Develop and outline a governance process for the smart utility implementation plan that result in significant buy-in from staff and ensure alignment with the Department’s overall business objectives. Develop a risk management/cyber security plan to manage access to information technology systems and protect data.

Implement key information and/or operational technology priorities aimed at real-time situational awareness of utility systems and operations

Develop and implement a Smart H2O platform with predictive analytics, to assist in monitoring performance and promote greater business and operations insight and better decision making. Develop a SCADA Master Plan, including Engineering Guidelines, to outline a vision for an integrated and standardized monitoring and control system at DWM facilities. Evaluate and pilot advanced metering infrastructure/smart meters/MDM to facilitate better system data management and communication between the Department and customers. Implement a Maximo Mobile Platform at water treatment plants and water reclamation facilities to improve the timeliness and accuracy of data management in systems O&M. Develop and implement a public facing data-sharing resource to communicate on conditions or developments impacting our stakeholders.

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OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Become a Smart Utility through strategic investment in people and processes to hone technical acumen, foster a culture of innovation, and ensure effective and lasting adoption of systems and technologies

In conjunction with workforce development goals and objectives, develop a digital workforce plan identifying required information technology training and resources for the various roles within the organization.

Proactively assess ways to incorporate process and / or equipment technology advancements into all areas of operations to bolster financial and operational performance and resilience

Implement renewable energy technologies such as solar or biogas applications to reduce energy consumption and diversify energy sources, and to benefit from available alternative funding sources for these technologies


Conduct basic technology and digital training for all employees, emphasizing the workforce of the future. Develop a communication and change management plan for each new information or operational technology introduction.

Establish a process and equipment technology review board to find innovative and cost-effective opportunities to improve operational and financial performance (see page 44).

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Develop, implement, and communicate comprehensive policies and processes aimed at protecting the health, well-being, and security of our employees, our assets, and the communities we serve; ensuring the effective management and continuity of generations in the face of vulnerabilities.

People are the most valuable resource of the Department, and protecting them through an effective safety program is an absolute imperative. Meanwhile, the community relies on the Department to keep the City of Atlanta’s most valuable resource, the water supply, safe and secure. As an effectively managed utility, DWM understands the impact that injuries, illnesses, and asset damage or failures has on operations and the bottom line. The Department’s safety and security goal is to develop, implement, and communicate comprehensive policies and processes aimed at protecting the health, well-being, and safety of DWM’s employees and the community, while ensuring the security of assets, and making this a part of the DWM’s culture. In addition, we will continue to preserve a high level of

readiness to face not only the known, but the unknown emergencies impacting the Department’s ability to serve customers. DWM will ensure the continuity of operations by maintaining an extensive Emergency Management Plan in accordance with Title IV of the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act, and Public Law 107-18. To reach and maintain a high level of safety and security in the Workforce, it takes the concerted effort of every team member. This priority serves as an invitation for every employee to pursue an active role in protecting each other and DWM’s service to its customers. The Department is committed to promoting safe working practices and protecting its assets, inventory, and water supply.

SAFETY & SECURITY OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Increase the availability of training opportunities resulting in improved staff knowledge of safety and security protocols

Review job classifications and implement required safety training for all departmental positions.

Review and enhance existing training courses, and develop new classes, for staff safety training, including the National Incident Management System (NIMS) and Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) training.

Develop a Safety First culture where all employees understand, recognize and report hazards to migrate issues immediately.

Provide consistent messaging to DWM staff focusing on safety, security, and emergency management to reduce employee incidents

Continue posting weekly safety and security messages to DWM staff via all departmental communication outlets, emphasizing recent trends and results.

Continue hosting monthly town hall safety and security meetings, emphasizing positive and negative trends identified in the ongoing daily safety inspections.

Implement a mandatory program for participation in the departmental Defensive Drivers course.

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OBJECTIVES INITIATIVES Improve effectiveness of Departmental response under emergency situations; ensure continuity of operations

Annually review and update all Emergency Action Plans, Emergency Response Plans and Continuity of Operations Plans.

Conduct periodic audits of processes, procedures and documentation to improve preparedness strategies and emergency response measures.

Continue conducting post-incident reviews and implementing improvements based on the results.

Maintain updated vulnerability assessments that impact operational continuity.

Assure compliance with appropriate Department of Homeland Security (DHS) regulations and water sector specific guidelines

Complete vulnerability assessment, and implement prioritized improvements to meet Department of Homeland Security (DHS) requirements. Complete and adopt security guidelines based on DHS guidelines. Conduct inspections necessary to protect the public water supply by identifying vulnerabilities, developing mitigation plans, and coordinating response activities.


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IMPLEMENTATION The Department of Watershed Management developed goals, objectives and initiatives for eight (8) strategic priority areas. This section outlines a framework to serve as the springboard for implementation, planning and monitoring, the next step in achieving A One Water Vision. WORKSHOP FOR STRATEGIC GOAL CHAMPIONS Appointed DWM Champions shall conduct workshop(s) to: • Identify and resolve any overlap and/or gaps among the priority areas (goals, objectives, initiatives) • Develop a common format for assignments, reporting and monitoring • Identify the resources necessary to implement initiatives under the eight priority areas IMPLEMENTATION ACTIVITIES Each Priority Area Champion shall: • Develop overall schedule for implementation of each initiative • Assure that each initiative has the necessary SMART (Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Relevant, and Time-bound) metrics • Designate assignments for implementation of each initiative • Coordinate the necessary resources to implement each initiative

MONITORING AND REPORTING Each Priority Area Champion shall: • Monitor each assigned initiative to assure progress is consistent with the scheduled implementation, and take corrective actions as necessary to assure successful completion • Coordinate reporting of progress consistent with reporting schedules (see graphic below) REFLECT AND ADJUST Strategic planning is a dynamic process and should remain flexible. At regular 6-month intervals, DWM should reflect on the progress toward the goals set forth in each of the eight priority areas, compare against the overall strategic direction, and determine if adjustments are necessary, accounting for any changes in DWM operating context or outside influences (regulatory, stakeholders, customers, etc).
















Goal & Initiative Champion progress work sessions

DWM Committee reports

Updates in Department of Watershed Sessions



Initiative Champion driven

SEMI-ANNUAL PROGRESS REPORT Report to DWM Strategic Planning Committee

Goal & Initiative Champions set key milestones

Communicate updates to external stakeholders in Annual Report