Safe and reliable water and wastewater facilities are among the most valuable physical assets in any city or metropolitan area.  Vast water distribution networks, potable water treatment facilities, sanitary sewer systems, and wastewater treatment/water reclamation plants have a tremendous positive effect on public health and the environment.  Much of this infrastructure is physically buried and/or hidden from view.  To the general public it may be almost invisible.  But when any significant failure takes place, the importance of clean water supplies and reliable wastewater service quickly becomes very evident.  Service outages and emergency repairs can become very costly and disruptive for the utilities, customers, and the overall community.

The USEPA has estimated that more than $600 billion of capital improvements will be needed for America’s aging water and wastewater infrastructure over the next 20 years.  As our infrastructure continues to age, it is becoming increasingly important for system managers to have a practical and transparent system for prioritizing expensive long-term replacement and repair projects.  For many utilities, it can be particularly helpful to divide the system into key functional segments, and to estimate the Capacity, Condition, Criticality, and Cost for each segment.

Part of the “art” in asset management is to choose the most useful asset subdivisions and categories – not so broad that they would lose their usefulness, but not so fine that they would become a nightmare to track.  With the help of a practical asset system, the manager can better identify and evaluate alterative project options. This helps the manager and his/her governing board to create realistic capital improvement plans that are flexible, sustainable, and cost effective.

To learn more about practical asset management practices for your water or wastewater system, contact:

Ned Paschke, PE, DEE


Capacity, Condition, Cost, and Criticality:

Asset Management for Water and Wastewater Infrastructure