Committee Spotlight: Utility Management

Check out this article on Asset Management submitted by the PNCWA Utility Management Committee.

Asset management is the practice of managing infrastructure capital assets to minimize the total cost of owning and operating those assets while delivering the service level customers desire. Asset management can be a valuable process to gain knowledge about the condition of system components when they need to be repaired and replaced, and costs over time. This can be useful for decision-making, budgeting, capital improvements planning, and funding for projects to sustain utilities. 

Asset management is an important facet of EPA programs including the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 (AWIA). The Clean Water State Revolving Fund program requires certification of a fiscal sustainability plan including an inventory of critical assets for funding treatment works projects. The CWSRF, which also requires an evaluation of water conservation and energy efficiency measures for fiscal sustainability, has a green project reserve fund. There are several resources to consider for asset management. 

EPA’s website on Sustainable Water Infrastructure, Asset Management for Water, and Wastewater Utilities provides information, tools, and guidance on asset management and conducting an asset inventory. The EPA also promoted Effective Utility Management (EUM), which is a business model detailing 10 elements to effectively manage systems, ranging from customer satisfaction, water resources, financial viability, and operational resiliency to infrastructure stability involving asset management. The Check-Up Program for Small Systems (CUPSS), a software application the EPA developed more than 10 years ago, is no longer supported.

Computer Maintenance Management Systems (CMMS) are software tools with a database of maintenance activities that provide comprehensive management functions for utilities. In October 2019, the Pacific Northwest Clean Water Association conducted a survey on how Pacific Northwest utilities are using Computer Maintenance Management Systems. The survey had 29 responses from Oregon and Washington. Findings include the following:

  • Most survey respondents represent larger utilities with more than 80% serving populations of 10,000 or more, and 37% serving 50,000 or more.

  • CMMS are used for asset inventories, planning, and management, as well as for a wide range of activities to improve management processes.

  • Two utilities responded to questions regarding reporting assets in disrepair using CMMS. Remember, education for decision-makers about the condition of assets, the need for replacement and costs is important for system sustainability!

  • The benefits of CMMS include increased customer satisfaction and efficiencies.

  • Barriers to using CMMS include lack of funding, lack of support from senior management and decision-makers, and lack of preparedness by the operations staff. 

  • Survey respondents indicated they are using CMMS programs like Lucity, Cityworks, TabWare, Maintenance Connection, Antero, Maximo, CMS, Bee Hive, and Mainsaver.

More information on resources for asset management can be provided by PNCWA. For more information related to this article, contact Chris Marko. 

Chris Marko, Clean Water State Revolving Fund Program Analyst
Oregon Department of Environmental Quality 
[email protected]

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