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Interval vs. External Goals


Level of service goals should be a combination of goals that are of concern to the system (internal) and goals that are of concern to customers (external). Internal goals define a system’s operation but are not easily understood by the community it serves. They are derived from the technical knowledge, experience, professional standards and training of system staff. It is best to involve a cross-section of personnel from elected officials to those in the field to management when setting internal goals to ensure they are feasible. 

Examples of internal goal topics:

      • Maintenance scheduling
      • Safety and security
      • Soil management (pH, microbial population, moisture levels etc.)
      • Number of pipe breaks per mile
      • Compliance with stream protection ordinance
      • Staff certification
      • Effectiveness of local stormwater management programs

External goals are items that directly impact the community. When setting external goals, a system should ask themselves “what does my community want or expect?” This question can only be answered effectively by engaging in a conversation with the community. This type of conversation should be conducted in any way that is feasible and practical for the system and its community. For example, a small system with less than 100 customers may be able to go door to door and ask for feedback. A system that holds annual meetings may be able to get feedback from the annual meeting. A larger system may wish to hold focus groups with randomly selected customers. If a customer call/complaint log is kept at the utility, the information obtained from these phone calls/logs can be examined and used to create external goals. Involving stakeholders in goal development can help ensure that residents and property owners, particularly those in disadvantaged communities, understand and support the goals.

Examples of external goal topics:

      • Response time for water outages or sewer back-ups
      • Response time for customer complaints
      • Stormwater volume reduction
      • Cost of service/rates
      • Water volume reduction due to water conservation programs
      • Restoration of a stream corridor
      • Water savings from water conservation