July 1, 2014
Depersonalize the Dialogue
It is all too easy for the staff of water and wastewater utilities to assume that policy decisions are being made based on politics, personal gain, or political ideologies. And it's equally easy for policy makers or the public to assume that staff is proposing a course of action based on personal opinions or beliefs. One way to head off these often erroneous preconceptions is to make sure that the dialogue centers around standards. So, any discussion related to an investment proposal or policy decision should begin with a review of the relevant standards. It is perfectly reasonable for someone to disagree with a standard. In fact, a debate about standards is the most meaningful and transparent discussion that a utility can have with its community. This is because standards determine both value and level of investment. Finally, a dialogue about standards is less personal. This reduces the likelihood of unproductive conflict, and provides the best chance that policy decisions will be aligned with the best interests of the community.