Public Utilities
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Public Utilities

Management Challenges for the 21st Century

David E. McNabb

An introduction to the current issues and challenges facing managers and administrators in the investor and publicly owned utility industry, this engaging volume addresses management concerns in three sectors of the utility industry: electric power, natural gas, and water and wastewater systems. Beginning with a brief overview of the historical development of the industry, the author looks at policy issues and discusses management ethics. He then examines a number of the major challenges in these organizational functions: management and leadership, planning, marketing, accounting and finance, information technology, governance, and human resources. In the final section of the volume he looks at issues specific to each of the three industry sectors.
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Chapter 15: Challenges in the Water and Wastewater Industries

David E. McNabb


Water is one of life’s absolute necessities. Without a steady supply of clean, fresh water, cities could never have been invented, let alone thrived. When the water source went bad, disease and death followed. Because of this, some of the earliest civil engineering feats were the building of aqueducts to bring clean water from its distant source to where it was needed by town dwellers. The development of these water systems is what made the world’s early civilizations possible. The societies that evolved in such locations as India, Mesopotamia, and the Western Hemisphere were often founded on huge, communal water collection, transmission, and distribution systems for irrigation, human consumption, and, equally important, for flood control. Water and wastewater systems are the sine qua non of all modern civilizations. The early water systems in the U.S. were developed because existing town and private wells where most people drew their water were either (1) inadequate to meet the needs of a growing population, (2) subject to periodic pollution and carriers of many water-borne fatal diseases, or (3) unable to supply enough water for fire suppression, or for all three reasons. The first water system in Colonial America was established in Boston in 1654 and was used for both fire protection and domestic use (Glaeser 1957). The system drew its supply water from several springs, but these eventually proved to be inadequate to meet the needs of the growing city. In 1796, when the population of Boston passed 20 000, a private system...

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