A long-standing collaboration with the US Water Research Foundation and a consortium of international utilities is supporting the development of improved risk governance in the sector, so that water utilities can become more resilient to an increasing trend in extrinsic threats to their business and reputation.

At a glance

Progress update

Applied research at Cranfield, together with a network of risk managers from the above consortium, has developed practical guidance on risk management in the water sector over the last 10 years. Our work has informed an analysis of risk management capability; an assessment of practical tools utilities can use to ‘home grow’ risk analysis capability; and guidance to utility executives on engaging their Boards on aspects of risk. Our recent research has encouraged the integration of risk thinking within utility master plans and is supporting the emerging emphasis on resilience within the international water sector.

The desire for resilient water utilities has fast become an international keystone of utility governance. The “Effective Utility Management Steering Group”, a consortium of influential US bodies with strategic interests in utility governance, recently published (2016) its ten attributes of effective utility management in a manifesto: “Taking the Next Step: Findings of the Effective Utility Management Review Steering Group”. Among its recommendations was a call for “enterprise resiliency”, a utility-wide, strategic approach to organisational resilience, such that utility leaders and staff work together internally, and with external partners to anticipate, respond to, and avoid problems; and that they proactively identify, assess, establish tolerance levels for, and effectively manage a full range of business risks (including interdependencies with other services and utilities, legal, regulatory, financial, environmental, safety, physical and cyber security, knowledge loss, and natural disaster-related) in a proactive way, consistent with industry trends and system reliability goals.  Cranfield’s leading research on risk governance in the sector is a key contributor, among many, addressing this need.