By DEQ Grants and Loans Program

DEQ's Grants and Loans Program conducted a kaizen in May 2016 to streamline environmental reviews and reduce applicant costs. Since then, the program and its grant and loan recipients have seen a successful impact on the application process for DEQ-funded water and wastewater projects.

A kaizen is an effort to make continuous and incremental improvements by evaluating working practices and efficiency to improve productivity or performance. Under the new streamlined process, applicants have noticed rapid turnaround time for project reviews, which has resulted in early project completion and significant cost savings.

Southside Water and Sewer District's drinking water project is a great example. As a direct result of the kaizen process, the entire project planning process, including environmental work, was completed in just under 18 months, compared to the average 26 months. In addition, $13,643 remained of the $40,100 grant, a 34% savings in grant funds.

The kaizen methodology has built bridges between consultants, DEQ, and communities, achieving the primary goal of becoming as efficient as possible while eliminating duplicative steps and reducing process time.