Milestone Accomplishments Add-up at DC Water – A Half-Decade in Review

CEO David Gadis speaks with an employee at her desk.
November 07, 2023

Since joining DC Water five years ago, I have witnessed tremendous growth across the entirety of the organization. From innovative leadership initiatives to employee training, engagement and beyond, the Authority continues to raise the bar each year, strengthening our hall-of-fame-level professional staff, and building closer ties to the important community we serve.

Here’s a brief look back at some of the milestone accomplishments we’ve made over the past half-decade to get to where we are today.

When I began work in 2018, the existing strategic plan (The Blueprint) was helping to concentrate our resources and energy to achieve our goals. It pushed our organization to operate more effectively both internally with our workforce and externally with our community. However, as DC Water became increasingly results-driven, we knew that we needed to expand upon this plan to maintain and improve vital services for our customers. Our goal at the time was to leverage our operational excellence and innovative culture, to become even more of an industry leader across a wide spectrum of issues, and to tackle new operational challenges.  

These efforts to self-examine and improve DC Water kickstarted the development of what is now referred to as Blueprint 2.0 – a broad-based strategic plan inspired by the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and crafted with five key organizational imperatives in mind: “Healthy, Safe and Well,” “Reliable,” “Resilient,” “Sustainable” and “Equitable.” These five imperatives have influenced all of our initiatives since finalizing this plan and have been instrumental in providing a clear path for how we should approach any challenge or opportunity that comes our way. It has enabled us to think more globally and innovatively about how we approach operations to ensure we achieve success now, and in the years to come.

In launching Blueprint 2.0, DC Water took the Authority’s industry stature from respected to revered within the water and wastewater industry. It provided a framework for our leadership team to focus on larger drivers of change, accelerating the organization’s rise to the next level of performance and service, as we now had a stronger foundation to build a more resilient, reliable, sustainable and equitable enterprise. One of the major outcomes of the new strategic plan was the creation of our Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) report. In 2021, DC Water became the first - and only - municipal water utility to publish an ESG report to foster greater transparency with key stakeholders and the community and hold ourselves accountable to ensure a brighter future. DC Water’s annual ESG report is hugely valuable to our success, providing access to detailed data and progress on our initiatives to better prepare for a sustainable future. While we may be impacted by obstacles and challenges beyond our control, the ESG report represents our commitment to having a positive impact on our employees, customers, and community.

Our 2022 ESG report, which focuses on the progress made across the past year, includes a bonus section that focuses specifically on resilience (+R) to demonstrate the authority’s commitment to ensuring our operations can prepare for, adapt to and succeed against water sector challenges. By including this new section in our ESG reports moving forward, we can more effectively track, manage and allocate resources toward activities that support DC Water’s resilience and our ability to overcome obstacles that may have otherwise disrupted our services.

The tremendous progress detailed in the annual ESG+R reports is due to the superb workforce and leadership teams that I am consistently in awe of, as their dedication, commitment and passion to produce service that goes above and beyond never waivers.

The above sentiment is further demonstrated by the results of our latest “Voice of the Customer” survey, in which DC Water customers identified “reliability of service,” as a top strength of the organization. It’s a direct reflection of the great people we employ across all segments of the Authority and a strength we will always prioritize. Each member of our team is exceptional and, working together, our employees lay the foundation for our success.

With this in mind, I made it a priority from day one of my time at DC Water to emphasize the importance of what I call the three Ps: People, Place and Pay. Our dedicated workforce is our greatest asset and the key to our advancement and innovation and should be treated as such. We have implemented a wide array of initiatives throughout the last five years to show our employees this commitment, including creating a leadership team that resembles the diverse communities we serve, correcting identified gaps in pay equity between male and female employees, launching the One Water Council that is comprised of staff who work together to improve equity for DC Water employees, and many more.  

Looking ahead, the leadership team at DC Water will continue to improve how we self-monitor and evaluate our operations and implement sustainable and more equitable ways to meet our objectives.

I look forward to providing more updates on the great work we have planned. I give my sincerest thanks to my incredible workforce, colleagues, customers and community members for helping to make DC Water what it is today.