When we construct conceptual process flow diagrams for risk assessments, one question I always ask is:
“To whom do you supply products and services, what water quality requirements do you have at those supply or handover points and what is being monitored to ensure compliance with the requirements?”
Many utilities know this information well but for some, it is often the first time they have properly stopped to think about what they are actually supplying, to whom, at what water quality handover point (HOP) and at what quality. Understanding your water quality handover point is a key component of understanding and managing your water quality risks and therefore, of fulfilling your formal risk assessment and management compliance requirements.
Here we’re going to have a look at some easy ways of capturing information for those starting on the HOP journey. It’s also not a bad idea for a bit of reflection for those utilities that are a bit more HOP-mature, to see if you have captured all your products and services.
What is a water quality handover point?
A HOP is a point at which responsibility for something changes i.e. when the responsibility for that product is no longer yours. For water utilities, there might be multiple water supply system HOPs, such as:
- Receipt of treated water from one party to another.
- Provision of treated water from one party to another.
- Receipt and provision of treated water between parties.
- Extraction of raw water from the environment.
- Discharge of waste stream to the environment.
For each of the water quality handover points, and depending on the context, there will (or should be) a range of agreements or conditions that help govern the interaction at the water quality handover point. But in a complex system, how can you keep track of all the parties, water quality handover points, and water quality requirements? The first step in this understanding is developing the conceptual process flow diagram, but I believe that it’s also useful to capture the information in a more formal way – enter stage right, the Governagram!
The role of the ‘Governagram’™!
There seems to be a word for everything these days so here’s mine – governagram! So what is a governagram? A governagram is a way of identifying key interacting parties, to whom you supply water quality products and services, on one diagram (Figure 1). It allows you to conceptually represent the governance of your water supply system in a simple way. For more completeness, you can partner the governagram with a governance table or register (Table 1). The register should clearly show the party, the role of the party, the main operating context, formal agreements in place and the expected water quality at the handover point. It’s also important to record the monitoring point as, quite often, we have found that this is not always the same as the water quality handover point, and it could leave you exposed i.e. you may find that you are receiving water into your system without knowing the quality of that water before you receive it. In fact, you may wish to reconsider the water quality monitoring point to ensure that it is aligned with the water quality handover point. In an ideal world, the verified GPS coordinates for the monitoring and handover point would be specified, for more complete information. The monitoring frequency and timing for each water quality parameter should also be specified e.g. parameter X < Y mg/L for Z% of the time.
What if I’ve already got this information in other documents?
Some utilities already have some of the water quality governance information within other documents such as their stakeholder/compliance registers and/or their flow diagrams. So, if you feel that you have already got water quality handover point governance covered, don’t double up because it just creates problems for information maintenance and currency. For those that haven’t, or would benefit from seeing the information presented in a different way, take a look at the examples in this document to see if they might work for you.
Undertaking such a formal process for your HOPs may help you to identify gaps which need to be filled to help protect both you, and your customers. The goal is to help you better understand your water supply system and achieve your outcome of consistent, public health protection.
Need help? Risk Edge and D2K Information profoundly know water. We can assist you with system assessment, auditing, handover point identification and monitoring technology and water quality information, tailored for your context. Our aim is to provide well-designed and executed water quality monitoring, information and system optimisation solutions. Learn more here.
Annette Davison, Director and Principal, Risk Edge Pty Ltd; Director and Chief Risk and Product Officer, D2K Information Pty Ltd
#catchmenttotap #waterqualitymanagementservices #watersupplygovernance #sourcetoendpoint #handoverpoint