One Water Program Management: A Knowledge Base and Guidance Manual

Julie Labonte and Scott Aurit on project site

One Water Program Management: A Knowledge Base and Guidance Manual

The Water Industry’s First Research Project of its Kind on Program Management (WRF #5196)

HDR is partnering with the Water Research Foundation and the City of Los Angeles to advance the water industry’s state of knowledge on program management. The two-year project, which was initiated in October 2022, aims to provide foundational guidance on the planning and delivery of water infrastructure programs. Underlying project objectives include:

  • Increasing the adoption of a program management approach within the industry to help utilities and consultants improve a larger number of assets more effectively and achieve benefits and control not available by managing projects individually.
  • Building high-performance, integrated program teams by improving coordination and collaboration across multiple program partners, including utilities, consultants and construction contractors.

Background and Project Rationale

The American Society of Civil Engineering 2021 report cards assigned the nation’s drinking water, stormwater and wastewater infrastructure grades of C-minus, D and D-plus respectively. At the same time, water utilities are facing unprecedented challenges, including staff shortages amplified by a tight labor market and economic uncertainty fueled by inflationary pressures, material cost variability and supply chain issues. The need to upgrade our water infrastructure is undeniable. Other industry drivers substantiating the call for implementing large-scale capital improvement programs include:

  • The need for regional and large-scale initiatives to address water supply deficiencies, the degradation of various water bodies, future natural disasters and others.
  • Schedule requirements associated with regulatory compliance, grant conditions, legislative mandates, aging infrastructure and others.
  • Increased demand and need for one water, integrated solutions.

Approach and Outcome

The best program management practices to be developed as part of this project will draw on the outcome of a comprehensive literature review of diverse publications, a detailed survey of U.S. and international utilities with program management experience, and workshops with participating utilities. The guidance developed as part of the study will be tested using a case study focused on Los Angeles’ Operations NEXT program. 

The outcome of the research project will consist of the following:

  • Program Implementation Framework that can be adapted to various program needs.
  • Maturity Assessment Methodology to identify the gaps in an organization’s program management capabilities.
  • Management Toolkit comprised of guidelines, best practices, processes and tools to optimize the various phases of water programs.
  • Performance Metrics to track and assess program delivery and promote continuous improvement.
  • Chartering Model for creating high-performance program teams and facilitating coordination and collaboration across multiple program partners.

Project Partners and Agency Participants

Project Partners: City of Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and City of Los Angeles Sanitation & Environment.

Agency Participants: Aguas de Portugal Internacional/AdP Valor Grupo Aguas de Portugal, City of San Diego Public Utilities Department, City of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, Hampton Roads Sanitation District, High Speed 2, Indian River County, Johnson County Wastewater, Los Angeles World Airports, Metropolitan Water District of Southern CA, Miami-Dade Water & Sewer Department, Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission, Philadelphia Water Department, Region of Peel Water & Wastewater.

Julie Labonte and Scott Aurit on project site
The Water Research Foundation in partnership with Los Angeles Department of Water & Power (LADWP) and Los Angeles Sanitation & Environment (LASAN)

Denver, CO
United States