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Level of Service


Level of Service (LoS) defines the types and amounts of service the system wants their assets to provide to their customers relative to the capabilities and limitations of the assets. Additionally, Level of Service indicates how a system will operate and maintain its assets to meet customer expectations. The level of service provided depends on the purpose of the system. Drinking water, wastewater and stormwater systems have levels of service specific to the outcomes desired by the customers (e.g., safe, reliable delivery of drinking water, consistent removal of wastewater treated and disposed in an environmentally protective manner, or stormwater handling that prevents flooding and protects the waterways.) Each system, or department within a system, should create a mission statement to define their overall purpose. The mission statement will guide the system in determining the services they provide.

With a mission statement in place, staff need to create Level of Service goals which will help inform policies and procedures. The goals need to be developed within the context of the mission statement. Green assets often complement gray assets and contribute to meeting targeted level of service goals. Implementing level of service goals provides many benefits including:

  • Providing a means of assessing overall system performance
  • Providing a direct link between costs and service
  • Serving as an internal guide for system staff
  • Communicating with customers

Goals should match community needs and may vary depending on the community’s characteristics, such as whether it is rural, suburban, or urban; whether it is growing or losing population; and whether it has combined or separate storm sewers. The same basic approach to developing and applying level of service goals applies to both gray and green assets. Regardless of the characteristics, it is important for these goals to be meaningful, consistent, useful, unique, and most importantly measurable. System staff will need to work together to set key performance indicators for goals as a way to determine their level of success. System staff should keep in mind that data collection and analysis will likely be required to track the performance of most goals. The goals need to be reviewed and revised annually or as regulations, funding, and asset conditions significantly change. This ability to meet the level of service goals in different ways using green and gray assets is at the heart of optimizing Asset Management.

Systems should consider regularly communicating their goals with their community and advertise when they successfully meet key performance indicators. The more transparent the operation is, the more likely a system is to get community support as a result of increased understanding. Publicizing how well a system is delivering the services or values the community wants will make it easier to change rates and fees or attract community participation. Overall, level of service goals shape management, operations and investment decisions at each level of the system.

Your whole program is based on service – Larry Covington, President, Picacho Mutual Domestic Water Association, Las Cruces, NM