LABOR RESOURCES FOR UTILITY MANAGERS

  • All the rage in the private sector, ‘lean’ principles — smoothing out processes to remove non-value-add parts — can also bring greater efficiency to utility operations.

  • Dr. Rachel Sederberg didn’t mince words when describing the seriousness of the labor shortage in the United States. It’s long been a problem, and now it’s getting (much) worse. When the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in February of 2020, there were 7 million job openings and 5.9 million unemployed people in the U.S. Two years into the pandemic, the statistics paint a dire picture of the workforce landscape as it stands presently.

  • During the pandemic, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released the 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. Of the 17 categories, three were dedicated to water. Drinking Water, Stormwater, and Wastewater received grades of C-, D, and D+, respectively. ASCE’s accompanying Failure to Act study summarized that by 2029, funding for the three combined categories needed to be $1.045 trillion. As a reminder, $611 billion is currently funded, leaving a gap of $434 billion. The recent Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) helped that gap a little more, with $55 billion in funding. Unfortunately, that still leaves a gap of $379 billion in additional funding needed by 2029.

  • Water industry brain drain is here. As of last year, half of U.S. adults aged 55 or older had retired, according to Pew Research Center. Furthermore, by 2030, the Water Environment Federation predicts that a third of the water workforce will be retirement eligible.

  • ASCE has been a premier civil engineering body for over 170 years when we were compelled to design civil structures strong enough to survive new threats — two world wars, seismic loads, floods, environmental pollution, and epidemics, to name a few. We have been fortunate that we had the trust of the public behind us in our pursuits. When a sewer line is designed and built in town, during the unveiling of the sewer no member of the public would ever dare to ask, “What is the return on the public investment into the new sewer?”

  • Almost two years ago to the day, I contributed my first article after achieving the honor of joining the WWEMA Board of Directors. At that time, I could say I’d seen a lot in my 25-plus years in the workforce and was at a point in my career where I found myself thinking, but not saying out loud, “I’ve seen this before” with a bit more regularity.

  • Improving diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) has become one of the most important topics in the workplace, let alone the water sector. The business case for diversity has been made, but because DEI has not been a regular discussion topic, some organizations are struggling with how to define what their DEI initiatives should be.

  • Why does our industry not seem to attract both a large number and highly skilled new talent like other industries do? I contend that as an industry we must do everything possible to sell ourselves and the important mission we fulfill, and what better way to do this than to wave the technology flag?

  • Public works operations and water utility personnel are now using AI-enabled insight to better serve their communities and save money.

  • Technological advancement enables intrinsically safe headlamps to improve safety and operator performance more cost effectively.

LABOR SOLUTIONS

  • AccuGrid Surface Grating

    AccuGrid protective grating provides a strong, interlocking, non-skid surface on top of tube settler and trickling filter media. As a cost-effective alternative to other walkway systems, it covers the entire media surface for complete access to the distribution system. AccuGrid also improves safety by eliminating trip hazards through its surefoot tread design and locking tabs that maintain panel alignment.

  • Process Design Assistance

    Brentwood’s full staff of technical designers and skilled engineers take each project from concept to realization. Our designers provide installation and layout drawings while working in conjunction with our engineers to perform process analyses and optimize systems for each application.

    The experience of our engineers is a key factor in product improvement and new product development. Feedback from customers and knowledge gained from installations are assimilated into the design process to ensure that Polychem products and systems address every customer need.

  • Vacuum Sewer Truck: Optimize Cleaning Performance With The Right Accessories

    Selecting the correct accessories will maximize cleaning while minimizing water use, tank refills, labor, and headaches.

  • CASE Program

    The Component Analysis and System Evaluation (CASE) program, developed by Brentwood, helps customers to prevent problems with their chain and flight equipment and to extend the lifetime of their installations. The specialized tools and software provide facilities with cost-effective recommendations for budgeting future capital expenditures, maintaining inventory levels, and scheduling preventative maintenance.

  • Installation Support

    Brentwood’s systems and components are engineered not only for performance, but for ease of installation. With a dedicated team of site technicians who have assisted in countless installations, you can be assured not only that the system will run properly, but that your employees will be educated and prepared to operate the system. Additionally, Brentwood’s process team is available for consultation throughout the lifetime of your system to provide maintenance advice and to ensure continued performance results.

UTILITY MANAGEMENT VIDEOS

After cutting her teeth in the news business as a journalist and news anchor, Andrea Hay now helps shape the story of the water industry as the Director of Communications for Green Bay Water Utility.