Water utilities are part of the organisational structure for water supply in towns and cities. The water utilities have a duty to provide the water supply (and sewerage services) promptly, at appropriate cost, and with a high quality.
A water utility may have several departments (Figure 6.2):
- The Planning Department plans for the growth in services provided.
- The Commercial and Customer Care Department handles queries and complaints from commercial and domestic customers.
- The Engineering Department is responsible for major engineering works, such as refurbishment or expansion of facilities.
- The Corporate Affairs Department takes care of public relations and communications such as publicity campaigns to encourage efficient use of water.
- The Rural Water Supply Department ensures that water supply is extended to cover the rural population.
- The Operation and Maintenance Department ensures the smooth running of the water treatment and supply system.
- The Water Quality Assurance Department monitors the quality of delivered water to ensure that it is up to standard.
- The Human Resource Management Department looks after the recruitment and training of staff.
- The Finance Department manages the water utility’s budget and makes sure that all financial transactions are recorded, and that revenue is collected for water supplied.
- Finally, if relevant, the Sewerage Department looks after the sewer network and sewage treatment. (Note that sewage is the water-carried faecal waste from toilets, sewers are the pipes carrying this waste and sewerage refers to the infrastructure that conveys sewage. It encompasses components such as receiving drains, manholes, pumping stations and screens.)
While all the above departments are important, an effective and efficient Operation and Maintenance Department is vital to ensure that people receive good-quality water continuously each day. This function will be the focus of the next section.