Regional Collaboration by Water Utilities

AWWA Policy Statement on Regional Collaboration by Water Utilities

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) believes that regional collaboration is a valuable approach that can help utilities provide safe and reliable water, wastewater and water reuse services to their customers on a sustainable basis.

Depending on the parties involved and the nature of the agreement, examples of the benefits of regional collaboration include: sharing knowledge, training and workforce development, technology innovations, improved ability to respond in times of emergency, and source water protection. Benefits should have the overall effect of maintaining public health protection, increasing efficiency and effectiveness, minimizing life cycle costs, optimizing capital expenditures, enhancing system resiliency and sustainability, and providing rate stability.

Regional collaboration can take many forms: sharing of water supplies and infrastructure; treatment and water resource allocation agreements; advocacy for water policy issues and legislation; emergency response roles and responsibilities; joint procurement and bidding; alignment of organization policies and procedures; shared use of infrastructure; resources and personnel; joint governance and leadership; public-private partnerships; and restructuring and/or consolidation/acquisition.

AWWA recognizes that any regional collaboration must support local needs and be consistent with contemporary management practices. At the same time, AWWA emphasizes the need for utilities to operate as self‐sustaining organizations whose management practices and structures are sensitive to local conditions. Successful regional collaborations should be structured to enhance service to customers, establish a workable balance between responsibility and authority, and equitably address the needs of all the parties and stakeholders involved, whether public or private.

Practices specified in this policy statement are consistent with all other pertinent AWWA policy statements.

Adopted by the Board of Directors June 15, 1980, reaffirmed Jan. 25, 1987, and revised Jan. 31, 1993, and June 21, 1998, and Jan. 18, 2004, and Jan. 25, 2009, and Jan. 25, 2015, and April 19, 2019.