Benchmarking

The Benchmarking Program

Benchmarking utility performance indicators are an essential element of continuous improvement, allowing utilities to track their own performance, compare their results to peers, and identify areas that could be strengthened or improved. 

The AWWA Utility Benchmarking Program provides objective performance measures for utility leaders to track their organizational performance. Review the complete list of performance indicators.

If your utility is interested in participating in the 2024 Utility Benchmarking Survey, please review information below on How To Participate.

If you need any additional information, please contact benchmarking@awwa.org.


Get the Report

2023 AWWA Utility Benchmarking Publication
is now available.

The 2024 Survey is CLOSED

See information below on How to Participate.

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Tools For Benchmarking Success


 
How to Participate

Are you a Current Benchmarking Program participant?

Follow the link to access the AWWA Utility Benchmarking Program:

 

Log in using your awwa.org credentials.  You will be redirected to the Benchmarking data collection portal.  If you need to reset your AWWA password or forgot username for AWWA log-in, please visit www.awwa.org; access MY Account in upper right-hand corner and follow steps to reset.

Are You New to the AWWA Utility Benchmarking Program?

If you wish to participate in the current AWWA Utility Benchmarking Survey, you will need two items:

  1. Individual AWWA log-in credentials
    • Individuals working on the Benchmarking program will be linked to the Benchmarking portal using their individual AWWA.org log-in credentials. 
    • FIRST, please verify if you have an individual AWWA.org login; go to www.awwa.org; click on My Account in upper-right hand corner and follow links to either reset password, or to reset username.  Only after checking, if you do not have a login, please create a new individual account (membership is not required.
  2. Access to Benchmarking portal
    • For NEW Utility Participants:
      • Please designate who will be the Benchmarking Point of Contact (POC): this required position will be the recipient of all Benchmarking correspondence, responsible for assigning contributor access, manages data collection, and submittal of final report. POC will have the ability to print individual participant reports. Only one POC can be designated per utility.
      • Request new Utility Access, send Utility Name and Point of Contact (POC) to AWWA Benchmarking. Benchmarking staff will ensure utility access is completed and a confirmation email will be sent to the POC as soon as possible.
    •  Existing Utility Participants:
      • POC is responsible for adding any utility Contributors
        • Contributors: (optional) collect data, enter data, and review specific sections for completion. Multiple contributors from each utility can be assigned.
      • All contributors must also have an individual AWWA login, (membership is not required).  Please verify first at www.awwa.org; My Account your individual log-in credentials. 
      • Contributor’s access will not be complete until POC has assigned survey sections AND has started the current survey

Data You Will Need to Participate in the Benchmarking Survey

Decision-makers interested in improving performance should begin by determining which measures are most relevant to their utility and complete the corresponding data collection sections. Utility contacts will input into the online platform their fiscal year performance data based on a series of utility operations questions. Not all sections are required to be completed to participate in the AWWA Utility Benchmarking program, however, we encourage utilities to provide as many data points as possible.

All individual utility data is kept confidential. Only aggregated quartile ranges are reported in the Participant Report as well as Final Publication.

Utility data is collected in the following Benchmarking Survey sections:

  • Demographics
  • General Information
  • Water Stats
  • Wastewater Stats 
  • Staffing
  • Organizational Development
  • Financial Information
  • Billing
  • Call Center
  
  • Customer Service 
  • Service Disruptions
  • Maintenance
  • Energy Consumption
  • Water Supply Planning
  • Wastewater Operations
  • Stakeholder Outreach 
  • Triple Bottom Line
  • Sustainability

Following submission of performance data, relevant reports are posted to the Utility's online dashboard.

See the complete list of Performance Indicators that will be reported for 2022 participants.

AWWA’s Utility Benchmarking Program is a valuable tool for utilities of all sizes to track their performance to identify areas for improvements. Responding to the complete list of more than 110 individual metrics, and resulting 58 performance indicators, can be time-consuming for small systems or new participating utilities. Therefore, the following list was identified as an abbreviated set of performance measures to focus utility’s efforts and serve as a starting point for participation. 

The KEY UTILITY MEASURES represent those performance indicators tracked by a well-run utility. Provide performance data for the highlighted survey questions (-- Key Utility Measure –) to participate in this subset of data. Additional guidance is provided in the User Instructions document. 

Likewise, new utility participants can opt to start with the AWWA Utility Benchmarking Program by completing the KEY UTILITY MEASURES during their initial year of participation, with the goal of adding more performance measures in subsequent years of participation.

KEY UTILITY MEASURES
Organizational Development
  • Training (hours per employee)
  • Customer Accounts (accounts/FTE)
  • Employee Health & Safety Severity Rate
Business Operations
  • Debt Ratio (%)
  • Debt Service Coverage Ratio
  • Operation Ratio (%)
  • System Renewal/Replacement (% of funds allocated)
Customer Service
  • Technical Service Complaints/1,000 accounts
  • Billing Accuracy (errors/10,000 billings)
  • Average time to address Unplanned disruptions - Water
  • Average time to address Unplanned disruptions - Wastewater
Water Operations
  • Regulatory Compliance - Water (%)
  • Available Water Supply (years)
  • Water Distribution System Integrity Leaks & Breaks/100 miles of pipe
  • O&M Costs for Water Services ($/account)
  • O&M Costs for Water Services ($/MG)
  • Maintenance - Planned maintenance ratios (%) [Overall, Linear, Vertical]
Wastewater Operations
  • Wastewater compliance rate 
  • Collection System Integrity (failures/100 miles of pipe)
  • O&M Costs for Wastewater Service ($/account)
  • O&M Costs for Wastewater Service ($/MG)
  • Maintenance - Planned maintenance (%) [Overall, Linear, Vertical]

The list was developed in coordination with the AWWA Benchmarking Advisory Committee and subject to change as needed for alignment with the complete AWWA Utility Benchmarking Survey.

If you work for a water, wastewater, or combined utility that may be interested in participating in future benchmarking efforts, please contact AWWA at benchmarking@awwa.org for questions on the AWWA Utility Benchmarking Program.

Frank Roth
Utility Benchmarking Program Manager

Linkage Between Utility Benchmarking and Effective Utility Management

Effective Utility Management (EUM) provides a framework based on the Ten Attributes and Five Keys to Management Success as shown in the figure below.  The EUM framework helps utility executives, governing boards, and policymakers improve performance through planning, measurement, monitoring, and implementation using the framework provided by the Ten Attributes.  Utilities can use EUM principles and the results of the AWWA Utility Benchmarking Survey (UBS) to pinpoint areas for improvement, establish priorities, and implement necessary changes. By participating in the Benchmarking survey, utilities can track their performance now to set realistic targets for the future. 

One of the five Keys to Management Success, Measurement is critical to improvement efforts highlighted in the AWWA Benchmarking Survey as it focuses attention on key issues, clarifies expectations, facilitates decision-making, establishes and maintains accountability, and facilitates effective communications to all stakeholders. Likewise, benchmarking is part of a continuous improvement process to advance utility management capabilities and accountability with all stakeholders which is aligned to a second key – Continual Improvement Management. By evaluating how a utility performs relative to the Ten Attributes, utility leaders will gain a more balanced and comprehensive picture of their organization.

To learn more about EUM and tie to Benchmarking review the EUM primer Effective Utility Management - A Primer for Water and Wastewater Utilities (2017) (https://www.epa.gov/sites/default/files/2017-01/documents/eum_primer_final_508-january2017.pdf), and the EPA’s Effective Water Utility Management Practices (https://www.epa.gov/sustainable-water-infrastructure/effective-water-utility-management-practices).

The Ten Attributes of Effectively Managed Utilities and Five Keys To Management Success

 

 

EUM and AWWA Utility Benchmarking have been connected for some time with the EUM Measures influenced by the original AWWA Benchmarking indicators. The current linkage is displayed in the table below showing the five core areas of the survey on the vertical axis and the 10 attributes on the horizontal axis.

 

 

Videos

Getting Started with Benchmarking


AWWA Manuals

 

AWWA Utility Management Standards

 

AWWA Connections Article

 

Opflow | JournalAWWA | AWWA Water Science

To read the full text, click on the article links below, then login following the “Login with AWWA” button. You must be a current member to read the full text.

 

Set a Course to Improve Your Utility

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1

Participate in the Benchmarking Survey

Participation in the program survey let's your utility begin to track your utility's performance so you can set realistic targets for the future.

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2

Review Your Individualized Report

Survey Participants receive a free report that showcases your utility's performance on each performance indicator relative to the industry.

Benchmarking Book

3

Save on Additional Data Metrics

Get detailed information on all performance indicators and access historical trends. Participants save 30% on the full publication.

 

Program Case Studies

Hundreds of utilities have participated in the AWWA Utility Benchmarking Survey over the decade and have found benefit from yearly participation. Check out AWWA's report showcasing how five outstanding utilities have established goals, and utilized their benchmarking data results to track continuous improvement.

Read Case Studies

 

  

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