Saturday, August 06, 2011

Knowledge Management and Workforce Issues for Water Utilities

Over the last few years, KM has been gaining traction for addressing workforce issues in the water industry. The American Water Works Association and the Rocky Mountain Section of AWWA have both formed knowledge management committees. The August 2011 edition of the Journal of AWWA featured the KM committee report.
A recent survey of water treatment operators in Colorado showed:
  • 90% ranked KM as important or very important.
  • Less than 10% of the respondents had a formal KM
  • 65% have a program under development or are just
    getting started.
  • The top issues were ensuring that operators had the information they need to do their job, followed by the loss of knowledge from retiring employees.
  • The top challenge was resources
In talking with utilities, there is substantial concern over impending retirements. I heard from a system the other day that 80% of their operators are eligible for retirement. In others, this number is over the next five years. No matter what figure you use, concerns over potential knowledge loss
are well justified.

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