By Jim Horne — The Utility Management Conference co-chair blogs about this 'go-to' event and new effective utility management resource.

Like many of you, I’ve been coming to the Utility Management Conference (UMC) for a number of years and I’m thrilled, but not surprised, to see how much it has grown. The answer is straightforward: It’s hands down the best conference of its kind in the entire water sector; a truly “go-to” event.

It’s also a statement to the power that organizations such as the Water Environment Federation and the American Water Works Association (AWWA) bring to the table when they collaborate on issues that matter to so many of us. Whether you are a regulator, manager of a utility (large or small), consultant, or academic, this conference really shines like no other because of the outstanding contributions of the presenters.  The range and quality of the information that these presenters bring to the table is simply astounding.

I’ve served on the UMC Planning Committee for the last three years and it’s been a really great experience. It has certainly expanded my knowledge of the management issues utilities face and, more importantly, it’s helped to increase my great appreciation for the essential services our nation’s utilities provide every day. It's also my pleasure to co-chair this conference with Katherine Nutting of AWWA.

As we all know, the face of the water sector is changing rapidly. What once was is no longer. We’re moving into a new era where the kinds of innovative management approaches highlighted at the UMC will only become more important to the long-term sustainability of our precious water resources.

Finally, I wanted to let the audience know of a very important document just completed by a unique coalition of 11 organizations, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, that in many ways is the essence of this conference. The Effective Utility Management Primer, which has been used by utilities across the country, has just been revised, based on the input of utility leaders around the country. EUM, as utility management has come to be known, is the most widely recognized utility management framework in the country and I want to encourage everyone here today to get a copy of the document and use it in your operations.  I think you’ll be really pleased.

So, to my fellow UMCers, let me just say, “Onward and upward!”

(Posted January 26, 2017)

About Jim Horne

EPA Sustainability Program Manager Jim HorneSustainability Program Manager Jim Horne has been with the Office of Water at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency since 1988, and with the Office of Wastewater Management since 1991. During that time, he has concentrated on educating and assisting public entities, including water and wastewater utilities, on the value of using various approaches and tools to sustainably manage their operations.

Some of the major efforts Jim has led for EPA include completing an historic agreement between EPA and six national water-sector associations to promote effective utility management based on a series of Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities and Keys to Management Success and, more recently, a similar project to help managers of rural and small utilities use the EUM framework with the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2007 and 2013; representing EPA on the working group that developed the Utility of the Future Is Now recognition program for wastewater utilities; developing the first ever national policy statement for EPA on Sustainable Water and Water Infrastructure (e.g. EPA’s Sustainability Policy) 2010, and developing a “roadmap” of sustainable and effective practices for water and wastewater utilities based on the EUM Attributes and Keys, 2014.

Jim has earned numerous medals and commendations for outstanding service, including the EPA-wide award for Outstanding Leadership in Collaborative Problem Solving in 2008 and the WEF President’s Award in 2015.

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