NARRATIVE: Martin Luther King, Jr. said, "We are not makers of history. We are made by history." 
Paradoxically, this quote about history is also the basis for Utilities of the Future. Utilities were formed 
to provide a public good—to benefit public health and the environment, while also improving the 
economy. These are the same foundational roots of the Utilities of the Future. 

Avon Lake Regional Water was founded 90 years ago and has historically employed people with the 
classic, small-town, Midwestern value of neighbors helping neighbors. This is still the case today, 
regardless of whether it is our distribution and collection crew responding to a basement backup, our 
customer service staff answering a customer's question on the phone, our engineering staff designing a 
replacement sewer, or our communications personnel posting information to Facebook. 

With a 40-person staff that reports to an independently elected Board of Municipal Utilities, the 
organization has always tried to provide a high level of service to our customers. Now, in the midst of 
$100 million in capital expenditures to replace aging infrastructure and separate combined sewers, staff 
is focused on providing the best value to customers. In 2015, executive staff worked with the Board and 
a facilitator to develop the organization's Mission, Vision, and Guiding Principles. Senior staff then 
worked together to establish the organization's major initiatives, which were then approved by the 
Board. By aligning around these initiatives, staff is able to focus resources on the most pressing issues. 

The chief executive works closely with internal and external stakeholders to help better the community 
and the organization. A major focus is the current investment in combined sewer separations and our 
wastewater plant's rehabilitation to help prepare for its transformation into a water resource recovery 
facility. With these major initiatives, we have reached out to the community in many ways to help build 
support. In 2013, we launched our Water Warriors program, through which we provide tours of our 
water and wastewater facilities for the fifth graders in Avon Lake and conduct lab experiments with 
them to help them gain a better understanding about how we impact Lake Erie and are impacted by it. 
In 2014, we expanded our outreach even more by hosting the first annual Lake Erie WaterFest—a party 
with a purpose to help inform people about our lake, how we impact it, and how we can enjoy it. This 
festival has historically been completed in conjunction with a local non-profit called Friends of the Parks 
and the partnership has been expanded in 2016 to include Ohio State University's Stone Laboratory and 
Ohio Sea Grant. In 2015, the outreach efforts were folded under an umbrella, called our Love Your Lake 
campaign, which helps our customers further strengthen their affinity for the lake and support the 
things we do to protect it. 

One area where we have had great success engaging with the community is through social media. We 
have presence on Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook and regularly interact with 
customer groups through email. Each outlet attracts a different type of follower, and we have had the 
best luck on Facebook for direct interaction with customers. Our following exploded when we 
experienced an icing event in 2014 on the intakes of our water plant, and our following has continued to 
grow steadily. We provide information about projects and events, as well as pictures and items about 
Lake Erie and other topics of interest. 

As we have been separating sewers in neighborhoods, we have made use of email groups to provide 
regular updates about the projects. Interested parties sign up to be on a specific distribution list for a 
particular project. Through that list, we send regular updates regarding project status and what to 
expect. People can "reply" to the emails if they have specific questions or concerns. The lists have