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Four Keys to Leadership in Wastewater Management

By Andrew Vitaterna, VP Operations Business Development
Published in WEAO Influents Winter 2019

 

What does it take to thrive in the field of wastewater management? We learned the answer to this question while building Clearford into a wastewater leader. Headquartered in Ottawa, Clearford has offices and staff across Ontario, and is active in India as well. As one of the largest operators of private water and wastewater systems in Ontario, with over 170 sites across the province, our diverse team includes licensed engineers, operators, and project managers. Our objective is to provide innovative solutions to meet the water management needs of owners, property managers, and communities.

To increase our collective knowledge and enhance innovation, two elements of leadership in the water/wastewater industry, Clearford established a new business plan which seeks out partnerships to deliver decentralized water solutions that are critical to small and rural communities and businesses. The first step was the acquisition of Koester Canada and its Team Aquatic operations group in late 2017. The company expedited its business plan in May 2019 with the integration of ASI Water. The firms’ complementary expertise and similar vision for leading in the wastewater sector equipped Clearford with the resources needed to provide end-to-end services to customers.

Here, we distil our insights into four keys to leadership in wastewater management.

1. KNOWLEDGE SHARING IS CRITICAL

Wastewater projects can be complex with diverse regulatory, operational, and business considerations to factor into a project’s planning and execution. For this to succeed, knowledge-sharing and open communication are crucial. All parties, from business development teams and project planners to design engineers and plant operators – not to mention customers and regulators – must be on the same page regarding project objectives, technical parameters, and performance expectations. Organizations that operate in silos will suffer when key information fails to reach all stakeholders involved in a project. This is why the design-build-operate (DBO) model has proven to be the most successful approach to service delivery in our experience. Having our construction and operations team involved early in the design
stage ensures a facility design that is constructible and, equally important, that is easily operated and maintained with reliable equipment. We have found that this approach reduces the unnecessary claims for extras often seen in the traditional model of separate design, build, and operate contracts.

2. END-TO-END CAPABILITIES DELIVER VALUE

Successful wastewater management requires many skillsets to carry out feasibility studies, design and manufacture plants, secure agency approvals, construct and commission facilities, and carry out long-term operations. Some organizations concentrate on specific aspects of the wastewater management sector and build up specialized skills in these areas. While this niche approach can result in focused expertise, it can also become costly when customers need to bring in multiple specialized partners to carry out a project. On the other hand, organizations that develop end-to-end capabilities are often better equipped to lead wastewater projects in a time- and cost-efficient manner by leveraging their comprehensive in-house expertise. Acting as a full-service contractor for turnkey wastewater solutions creates opportunities for better managing risk and uncovering optimizations throughout the project cycle.

3. PROXIMITY MATTERS

When properly built and maintained, wastewater plants generally run smoothly and predictably. However, if problems arise, they need to be mitigated immediately to minimize the potential for negative outcomes and liability issues. This means having operators on call and within close proximity to plant sites speeds up the response time when something goes wrong. For wastewater management firms providing services to decentralized sites spanning a large geographic area, implementing a model of dispersed service hubs represents a best practice to ensure operators can rapidly attend to emergencies in a cost-effective manner. Over the past several months, our management team has been busy integrating the Clearford Waterworks and ASI Water operations teams and business support systems to provide a targeted one-hour response time to all sites across a service area over 100,000 square kilometres, taking into consideration everything from staff workload and travel times to opportunities for integrating remote-control technologies that reduce the need for staff to make unscheduled site visits.

4. INNOVATION OPENS DOORS

The wastewater sector is well established, but innovation nonetheless plays an important and ongoing role in finding better ways to manage wastewater. Technological innovation, such as developing more effective membrane filters or building smarter systems for UV water disinfection, are obvious examples of this. However, it is equally important to innovate in areas such as rethinking business processes and identifying new market opportunities. For example, there is currently increasing demand in Ontario for licensed wastewater operators to operate or oversee sewer bypass systems for contractors undertaking sewer replacement or rehabilitation work for municipalities. While this may fall outside the scope of their existing services, organizations that are flexible and responsive are more likely to capitalize on such opportunities.

Ultimately, any organization that aims to thrive in the wastewater sector must be open to change – by pursuing and sharing new knowledge, by developing new capabilities, by expanding its operational footprint, and by embracing innovation. By definition, not every organization can lead in wastewater management, but those of us in the industry know it is worth striving to be at the forefront of this field to maximize the environmental, social, and economic benefits to communities.

About Clearford Water Systems Inc.
Clearford Water Systems Inc. (TSX-V: CLI) is a provider of unified water management solutions for the design, build, finance, operation and maintenance of water and wastewater infrastructure systems. The Company’s technology-based water solutions include Clearford One® wastewater infrastructure systems, Clearford M-brane™ packaged treatment solutions, and a full range of UV Pure® water disinfection products. Clearford is the winner of the Frost & Sullivan 2017 Enabling Technology Leadership Award for Global Decentralized Water & Wastewater Treatment. For more information on Clearford Water Systems, please visit www.clearford.com.

Forward Looking Statements
This news release contains certain statements that constitute forward-looking statements as they relate to the Company and its management. Forward-looking statements are not historical facts but represent management’s current expectation of future events, and can be identified by words such as “believe”, “expects”, “will”, “intends”, “plans”, “projects”, “anticipates”, “estimates”, “continues” and similar expressions. Although management believes that the expectations represented in such forward-looking statements are reasonable, there can be no assurance that they will prove to be correct.

By their nature, forward-looking statements include assumptions and are subject to inherent risks and uncertainties that could cause actual future results, conditions, actions or events to differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements. If and when forward-looking statements are set out in this news release, Clearford will also set out the material risk factors or assumptions used to develop the forward-looking statements. Except as expressly required by applicable securities law, the Company assumes no obligation to update or revise any forward looking statements. The future outcomes that relate to forward-looking statements may be influenced by many factors, including, but not limited to: industry cyclicality; the ability to secure third party agreements; successful integration of Clearford’s system with third party technology; competition; reduction in demand for products; collection from customers; relationships with suppliers; product liability; intellectual property; reliance on key personnel; environmental; interest rates; uninsured and underinsured losses; operating hazards; risks of future legal proceedings; income tax matters; credit facilities; availability and terms of financing; distribution of securities; restrictions on potential growth; effect of market interest rates on price of securities; and potential dilution.

For more information contact:
Kevin Loiselle, President & CEO
Clearford Water Systems Inc.
Phone: 613 599 6474 ext. 303
www.clearford.com

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