Glen Gerads, Director, Water Treatment and Distribution
Services at City of Minneapolis, recently sat down with
the Water Research Foundation ( WRF) to discuss how
project #4232, Forecasting the Future: Progress, Changes,
and Predictions for the Water Sector, helped his organization create a strategic plan for the City of Minneapolis.
Forecasting the Future identified and analyzed trends
that are expected to influence the water sector over
the next 20 years. The research ultimately developed
a conceptual blueprint of what the water sector may
look like in 10 to 20 years so subscribers can begin to
adapt. Under Gerads’ direction, the City of Minneapolis
used the document to help frame their strategic plan.
Water Research Foundation: What triggered the City
of Minneapolis to use the Futures project in your
strategic planning process?
Glen Gerads: The Forecasting the Future project is an update of
an older scanning of the industry. So, I was acquainted with the
older document and the new research came across my desk at
the right time, as we were prepar-
ing to update our strategic plan.
Our organization used the
research to determine what future
trends are significant or relevant to
Minneapolis and used that information to start framing our strategic
What trends did the
Forecasting the Future docu-
ment identify that your
organization found useful?
This shouldn’t be surprising to those in the drinking water industry, but the crux
of what we looked at was infrastructure and technology, especially how we can use technology to make
better infrastructure reinvestment decisions.
However, the Futures document touched on other key components on our strategic planning radar including customer relations, partnerships, and labor workforce issues.
Did anyone else inside or outside of your organiza-
tion make use of Forecasting the Future?
The City of Minneapolis underwent a robust, broad strategic planning effort. So when putting together our plan,
we went beyond the primary actors at the water utility.
As Forecasting the Future recommends, we put together a preliminary workshop that included our wholesale customers, and
others beyond the nucleus of our drinking water professionals
including a broad representation inside and outside of the public
works realm. The original discussions and workshops were facilitated by EMA of St. Paul Minnesota, to help frame the findings of
the report and select which ones are most relevant to our utility.
Overall, when reviewing workshop materials we found a lot of
helpful statements and nuggets of information from individuals
outside utility operations. It was a useful exercise.
Q&A with Glen Gerads
Director, Water Treatment and Distribution Services, City of Minneapolis
‘Futures’ Project Helps Minneapolis Develop a Strategic Plan