As owner, operator or decision maker for a water supply, you have the obligation not only to ensure there is adequate water for homes and businesses, but to be sure that your customers trust the water is safe and the water system is run in a fair and ethical manner. Operating a water system that meets regulatory requirements, customer needs and is financially sustainable takes good governance.
But what is governance?
Governance includes the policies, job descriptions and procedures that your water system follows, so it can make good decisions.
For disclosure and transparency purposes, these policies should be clearly documented and shared with internal and external stakeholders.
Write policies and procedures as your business develops and don’t forget to review those documents periodically to see if they are still relevant.
Writing Governance Documents
If you are considering writing documents that identify your business rules, the Province of BC has some helpful advice as to what to include in their Small Water Systems Guidebook (Chapter 8, Business Structure & Governance):
- Identify up front the policies, decision-making processes, and roles and responsibilities.
- Define the principles that must be considered when making decisions.
- Ensure all decisions in the day-to-day operations (i.e., management of operations) of the water supply system – including finances, asset management, communications and mechanical operations – are made in accordance with the governance framework.
- Make certain the people undertaking these responsibilities have, or are willing to acquire, the knowledge and skills they need to perform their duties (and have the freedom and support to do so).
Within First Nation communities, it is a responsibility of the elected officials to provide proper governance over their systems.