NARRATIVE: Organizational Culture  

Proactive Leadership:  The Gwinnett County Department of Water Resources (DWR) is an integral part of 
our growing and thriving community.  Our mission is “Superior Water Services at an Excellent Value.”  
The Services referred to in the mission are more than just delivering clean water and treating 
wastewater.  Our Services help the County and the various communities meet their objective of making 
Gwinnett a great place to live.  Accomplishing this takes a lot of communication and outreach.  All of our 
higher-level management members are active in local Rotary groups.  Our staff participates in meetings 
that are held regularly with the various Cities, Community Improvement Districts, and community 
service organizations, as well as the public school system.  Out of this communication have come several 
important projects that will benefit DWR and the community.  One is the Water Research and Education 
Center that will serve as a hub of innovation for the water industry.  Another project is the Beaver Ruin 
Wetland Project.  This project will provide water quality improvements, community recreation, and 
education, as well as create a link to County and City trail systems.  These projects happen when 
proactive leadership ensures our entire Department works as a partner with the community.     

Collaborative Organization: Our Department has been going through reorganization for the last five 
years.  The goal has been to bring the concept of ‘One Water’ to every level of the organization.  We 
have changed from an organization with silos around the type of water — wastewater, water, 
Stormwater — to one where we are organized around function.  For example, all the engineering and 
construction staff from each ‘water’ area were combined in a single group.  Additionally, the field crews 
from distribution, collection and Stormwater were combined in a group.  This new structure allows the 
sharing of work experiences across traditional department lines, bringing fresh concepts to the newly 
aligned workgroups.  In addition, it has given a greater opportunity for staff advancement within the 
new groups.  

As part of our asset management program, we subject any project over $1 M to a business case 
evaluation (BCE).  This has provided an opportunity for all levels of staff to be involved as a part of a BCE 
team.  We look for ‘out of the box’ thinking, which means we bring in employees who work in areas 
unrelated to the BCE project.  

Our mission states that we will achieve it through education, innovation and personal commitment.  We 
believe that innovation is key to improvement.  To enable this, many of our staff throughout the 
organization are sent to visit other high performing utilities and research programs, or to conferences to 
bring back new ideas.  One example is a recent trip by field operations staff to St. Louis to learn about 
their employee skills development and apprenticeship programs.  In recent years, engineering and 
operating staff made a trip to California, bringing back information to share on innovative biosolids 
treatment projects   

Workforce and Leadership Development – DWR has always had a good leadership-training program 
through the University of Georgia.  In the last few years, the overall training program has taken a giant 
step forward with the hiring of a Training Manager, along with a significant increase in funding for 
training.  Now the staff development program is about to take another leap forward with the 
implementation of an Employee Skills Development Program.  This program is developing the skills, 
knowledge, and ability KSA) necessary for each position.  Employees will have the opportunity to gain 
and demonstrate those KSAs and be promoted through a career ladder without having to wait for 
another employee to vacate a position.  This will provide opportunities for advancement and increased