A Game Changer

The town of Midland, Ontario had historically hired consultants to provide rate studies, but city Staff felt that their reports did not tell a compelling story which would allow Council to grasp the water systems' financial needs. Staff needed a more dynamic tool that could quickly model different scenarios and shift the conversation to a longer-term horizon.

Customer since 2017 | Population: 17,000

CHALLENGES

Midland needed a more adaptable long-term approach to rate setting. Consultant reports became outdated too quickly.

RESULTS

Staff are able to run different scenarios easily and communicate more effectively with elected officials and the public. Waterworth is now an integral part of Midland’s water system budgeting process.

BENEFITS

  • More adaptable to changing circumstances
  • Easy to learn tool and quick model development
  • Better communication using clear and concise graphics
  • Ability to conduct scenario analysis
“A consultant report is just a snapshot in time that you look at once every five years. It gives you lots of numbers on a page, but it’s really hard to communicate with that.”
Andy Campbell
Director of Water & Wastewater, Midland, ON

BACKGROUND

The Town of Midland, Ontario is home to approximately 17,000 residents. The Town’s management knew an update to water rates was overdue. In the past, they used consultants to do rate reviews but they were looking for a more effective way to demonstrate revenue needs to both elected officials and residents. As Andy Campbell, Director of Water and Wastewater, noted, “A consultant report is just a snapshot in time that you look at once every five years. It gives you lots of numbers on a page, but it’s really hard to communicate with that.”

Midland wanted a solution that would allow them to run different rate scenarios to easily answer “what if” questions from Council. They also wanted something that would provide visual representations of the impact of those rate scenarios over the long term. 

“We were talking about the policy issues right away, not just about the individual numbers. It became a conversation about the longer term.”
Andy Campbell
Director of Water & Wastewater, Midland, ON

QUICK, CONVINCING RESULTS

Midland staff found Waterworth easy to use right from the start. Onboarding templates made uploading data into the software fast and easy. Within 48 hours they had established a preliminary cost recovery model. “We went from zero to 80% in just a couple of days” said Campbell.

Within a week, staff were ready to present to Council. “They had never seen data presented this way before,” said Campbell. “I was able to show them the trends very quickly. We were talking about the policy issues right away, not just about the individual numbers. It became a conversation about the longer term.”

On-call support from Waterworth’s team of experts provided significant additional value, especially in light of Midland’s time pressures. Some minor problems with the model were corrected in a matter of minutes and staff were surprised to find that even on weekends, requests for support would receive a response right away.   

Waterworth allowed staff to demonstrate how Midland’s reserve fund balance would change over the next ten or twenty years under different scenarios. When Council members asked to see a new scenario, the team was able to show the alternatives immediately with visualizations that everyone could understand. There was no need to go back to the consultants and wait. In the end, Midland City Council agreed to a 3.5% rate increase, despite the fact that it was an election year. 

“It’s just easier to advocate for change with Council and the public when you have the knowledge yourself.”
Andy Campbell
Director of Water & Wastewater, Midland, ON

THE ROAD AHEAD

Going forward, Midland plans to use Waterworth to develop their next budget. They plan to add billing and water production data to take the model to the next level and are looking forward to experimenting with additional features. With the election behind them, they also plan to use Waterworth to bring the new Council up to speed. 

For Midland, Waterworth has been a game changer. It provides the team with the ability to do the analysis themselves, look at different scenarios, and to take responsibility for what the numbers look like. Campbell adds, “It’s just easier to advocate for change with Council and the public when you have the knowledge yourself.”

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