Customer Complaint Surveillance Updates and Tools – Vendor Integration and Establishing Thresholds

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American Water Works Association
Water Security Congress, St. Louis, MO
September 10, 2012

Author: CAPT Nelson Mix, PE, CHMM, US Public Health Service Officer
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Water Security Division

Co-author: Brian Pickard, PE, BCEE, MBA
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Water Security Division

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Water Security Initiative contamination warning system pilot utilities have slightly varied approaches in implementing the Customer Complaint Surveillance (CCS) component. CCS is a key component of a contamination warning system that includes technology and procedures used for real-time detection, timely response to water quality calls, and the ensuing work management aspect of complaints indicative of contamination in water distribution systems. CCS technology (call and work management systems) relies heavily on the software vendors and integrators who enable water utilities to respond to customer and system needs on a daily basis. CCS also relies on establishing thresholds that generate alerts when unusual call volumes are reached, while still achieving a manageable number of alerts that are acceptable to utilities. Capturing call data in specific complaint categories is essential for accurate and sustainable surveillance.

This manuscript will explain how utilities can take their existing data and software and integrate a CCS approach for the purposes of water security. This manuscript will report out on decisions and feedback from participants at the AWWA and EPA hosted Vendor Integration Forum, held in conjunction with the 2011 AWWA Customer Service / Information Management Technology Conference. The status update will also cover a jointly hosted AWWA / EPA webinar in June 2011, and related work with an AWWA Taste and Odor committee. This manuscript will also demonstrate EPA-developed tools and techniques for establishing thresholds and categories of complaints related to water quality complaints that could be indicative of contamination.

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