Your primary obligation as an owner, operator or other decision maker for a water supply system is to ensure there is adequate water for homes and businesses. This includes ensuring that your customers trust that the water is safe and that the system is run in a fair and ethical manner. Operating a water system that meets regulatory requirements, customer needs, and that is financially sustainable takes good governance.
Governance includes the business/ownership structure, job descriptions, policies and procedures that your water system follows in order to make informed and consistent decisions.
For disclosure and transparency purposes, these policies and procedures should be clearly documented and shared with internal and external stakeholders. Writing policies and procedures as your business develops is important, but be sure to review those documents periodically to see if they are current and 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.
Ensure 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 these communities, it is a responsibility of the elected officials to provide proper governance over their water systems.