In this paper the author sets out the experience gained while undertaking two milestone performance benchmark studies in the US water industry: Performance Benchmarking for Water Utilities, funded by the AWWARF (American Water Works Research Foundation); and Benchmarking Wastewater Treatment Plant Operations, funded by the WERF (Water Environment Research Foundation)

The paper identifies two separate, but complementary components, to benchmarking, i.e. metric benchmarking and process benchmarking. The former comprises a range of quantitative assessments and comparisons including performance ratios and performance models. The latter focuses on how to make improvements in existing work processes by mapping current activities and then comparing to similar activities in ‘best in class’ service providers.

The paper concludes with a summary of the key results from the two studies, including the presentation of performance ratios, performance models and good management practices.

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