About the Initiative


Beginnings: The Benchmarking Initiative was launched in 1997 as a pilot project that included four participating cities as well as team members from AECOM and the National Research Council. It has since grown to serve as the national standard for water and wastewater utility benchmarking in Canada.

Who Participates: The partnership represents 43 of Canada’s leading municipalities and regional districts from coast to coast with a service population greater than 50,000. Their combined service population represents over 60% of the Canadian population. The APWA Award winning project focuses on wastewater collection and treatment systems, water treatment, supply and distribution systems and stormwater management systems.

Project Objectives: Benchmarking can help utility managers to achieve continuous performance improvement towards the utility's goals. The objective of the benchmarking project is thus to develop a high-level tool or model that the majority of Canadian Water and Wastewater Utilities can use for managing and monitoring their performance. The tool provides an ability to compare utilities' norms and standards. But benchmarking and the data collection process alone will not provide performance improvement; it is the cycle of monitoring, variance calculation, goal setting and implementation of action plans that closes the gap towards performance improvement. By monitoring trends with benchmarked data in key business functions, managers can take proactive steps to avoid and resolve issues in the operating environment.

Unique Nature: A key distinguishing factor of our benchmarking project is the way the data is collected, through on-site visits by qualified and trained staff in close association with key utility staff. This ensures the quality of all utility information and "apples-to-apples" comparison.

The Utility Management Model and the Benchmarking Methodology developed provides infrastructure managers with the means to link their goals, strategies, performance measures and performance monitoring/reporting. In turn, this approach provides managers with the basis on which to strive for superior performance through continuous improvement.