IN 2005, THE Government Finance Officers Association adopted strategic planning as a recom-
mended best practice, remarking that “strategic planning is about influencing the future rather
than simply preparing or adapting to it.”
The Water Research Foundation ( WRF) has been conducting research on strategic planning for
water utilities for decades. As highlighted in the Q&A in this issue of AWR, the City of Minneapolis
recently applied WRF research to develop their strategic plan. Glen Gerads, Director, Water
Now WRF has also taken an important step internally to address the present and future research needs of water utilities. At our
January meeting, the WRF’s Board of Trustees approved a three-year strategic plan that aims to secure WRF’s position as the leader
in research that supports the effective management of water from all sources to meet economic, social, and environmental needs.
The plan will help ensure that WRF remains relevant and invaluable to its subscribers. Key initiatives related to expanding research
and communications efforts, enhancing organizational infrastructure, and ensuring a sustainable revenue model will be priorities
in the coming three years.
Remaining at the core of WRF’s value to subscribers are three distinct research programs: the Focus Area Program, Tailored
Collaboration Program, and Emerging Opportunities Program. At the January meeting, the Board approved $5.24 million to fund
these three research programs in 2014. The Board also voted to maintain all ten existing focus areas within that program while
adding one new focus area, Integrated Water Management: Planning for Future Water Supplies.
The new focus area is intended to help subscribers respond to increasing water supply pressures due to factors such as population
growth, increased hydrologic and climate variability and uncertainty, decreasing availability of high quality water sources, decreasing
quality of existing sources, and increasing water demands from other sectors like energy and agriculture. Projects funded within
this focus area are expected to provide water utilities with innovative tools and approaches to overcome the numerous financial,
social, environmental, technical, regulatory, and institutional challenges to diversifying water supply portfolios.
WRF’s three research programs and the BOT’s funding decisions allow WRF to continue to comprehensively solve our subscribers’ most pressing problems. WRF’s broad research agenda and highly regarded project development and management processes
are designed to ensure that we continue to provide the highly credible research our subscribing utilities expect and rely on. And
the strategic plan will ensure that the organization will continue to evolve to ensure financial viability and the ability to support a
research agenda that addresses the full spectrum of “one water” research needs.
Chair, Board of Trustees
Robert C. Renner, PE, BCEE