EPCOR is committed to becoming a 'neighbour of choice'. Working together with our stakeholders, we accomplish this goal through open communication and consultation with our customers. We demonstrate a commitment to two-way, transparent communication through face-to-face discussions, open houses and our community advisory panels. In and around our plant sites, EPCOR engages with the community league and residents to ensure we are keeping our neighbours informed of construction activities and are building a positive rapport with community members.
Within the broader community of Edmonton, we engage with our customers and communicate about emerging issues through multiple channels such as our customer newsletter, broadcast media, news media, EPCOR's external website and social media. EPCOR's external communications encourage wise water use, promote environmental stewardship and create a broader awareness of the importance of safe and clean public drinking water.
Online Outage Map
EPCOR added a new online outage map to our website so customers can view outages in near real-time, along with additional information about estimated restoration time. When a work order is created by EPCOR Water's field or dispatch teams, an icon automatically appears on the map. Customers can expand this icon to find information about how our crews are responding and what activity is taking place to restore service; it also helps the public plan their traffic routes accordingly.
Since the tool launched four months ago, the outage pages on our external website have been viewed more than 127,000 times, and EPCOR dispatch has noticed a decrease in call volume. Customers now have up-to-date information when and where they want it most.
Corporate Accountability And Public Transparency
EPCOR keeps its customers informed about what we are doing to ensure a safe and reliable supply of tap water. A number of reports are made available to the public, including customer-friendly water quality reports:
EPCOR staff participated in several community outreach activities in 2014. Two events that were particularly relevant to drinking water treatment included:
- Get Ready in the Park at Hawrelak Park. EPCOR presented an experiment for kids to build their own water filters as EPCOR lab technicians demonstrated the process of water treatment;
- At the Winter & Summer Family Fun Days in the Cameron Heights community we provided water treatment education to event attendees; and
- EPCOR was involved in Highlandia and Gold Bar Events to educate the community on river quality and reinforce what not to flush to protect our river.
Community Advisory Panel
EPCOR places a high priority on obtaining public input into all aspects of water service delivery. Since 1993, a voluntary panel has provided feedback on EPCOR policies and programs impacting customers and the community in general. The panel gathers stakeholder input on emerging issues such as water efficiency, legislative and technological changes, pricing, customer care and watershed management.
The panel includes representatives for the environment, the City of Edmonton, commercial customers, industrial and residential customers. The members meet quarterly and an annual report of activities is posted on EPCOR's website.
The Water Community Advisory Panel (CAP) reviewed the terms of reference for the group to seek input into EPCOR initiatives and provide information sessions on those initiatives, including:
- overview of drinking water flavour profile analysis;
- overview of EPCORs involvement with the City of Edmonton's Stewarding Great Neighbourhoods initiative;
- outline of 2015 on-street construction; and
- overview of Rossdale's new lab building.
A new Community Advisory Panel was assembled late in 2015 and began meeting in 2016. The new group includes members from the City of Edmonton along with commercial, industrial and residential customers.
Consultation With Industry Experts – Water Quality Advisory Committee
The Water Quality and Advisory Committee (WQAC) includes representatives from EPCOR, Alberta Health Services (AHS), Alberta Health and Wellness, Alberta Environment and Parks (the water regulator), the University of Alberta, the City of Edmonton and the Regional Water Customer Group (RWCG) that represents the municipalities supplied directly or indirectly by the EPCOR drinking water system.
The panel shares information, advises on water quality and treatment issues, reviews water quality standards and guidelines and develops joint risk management protocols. Its scope includes drinking water emergency response, watershed issues, home water treatment devices, bottled water and related drinking water health issues.
The Water Quality Advisory Committee met on January 29, 2016 at the Rossdale Water Treatment Plant. The topics discussed included:
- EPCOR 2015 Drinking Water Quality Summary – Trends, Challenges and Focus Areas;
- EPCOR Water Quality Initiatives;
- EPCOR Lead Program - Status Update and Future Direction;
- Drinking Water Emergency Exercise Planning; and
- EPCOR Communications Update.
As a follow-up to the October 2014 "Troubled Waters" Regional Water Contamination Event Exercise, a subcommittee will be set-up in 2016 to develop a 2016-2020 Emergency Exercise plan for the regional water system. The plan will look at various scenarios in which the quality or availability of water is compromised.