WaterEUM — Effective Utility Management

Ten Attributes -

Infrastructure Stability

Understands the condition of and costs associated with critical infrastructure assets. Maintains and enhances the condition of all assets over the long-term at the lowest possible life-cycle cost and acceptable risk consistent with customer, community, and regulator-supported service levels, and consistent with anticipated growth and system reliability goals. Assures asset repair, rehabilitation, and replacement efforts are coordinated within the community to minimize disruptions and other negative consequences.

Link to Example Measures 


Asset Management Planning and Reporting Options for Water Utilities
Asset management is the best method for prioritizing short-, medium-, and long-term asset rehabilitation and replacement expenditures of a water utility's pipelines and other infrastructure assets. What tools are available for beginning an asset management program? Is there a point of diminishing returns for your efforts and expenditures in gathering the data needed by an asset management program? This study will help you answer those questions. The purpose of this study is to help any size utility to understand the benefits and drawbacks of various asset management strategies, from basic to high end. It will help you understand the data needs of different asset management programs and the types of information you can expect to get out of such programs. It will help you determine the appropriate performance measures, asset groupings, and evaluation framework for your utility's assets. The included CD-ROM contains deep insights gained by participating utilities in this study. This research report compares side-by-side the reports generated by basic and higher-level asset management programs. Three increasingly sophisticated (and increasingly expensive) asset management strategies are compared side by side. (1) Basic Option, in which major assets are evaluated for service life, to estimate renewal expenditures. (2) High-End Option, in which key performance measures of individual and grouped assets are assigned scores to aid in replacement decision-making. (3) Strategic Option, which combines elements of basic and high-end and adds other performance criteria. 2006 - 160 pp. ISBN 1583214119; Catalog No. 91095 $$ Order Now 

Check Up Program for Small Systems (CUPPS)
CUPSS is a free, easy-to-use, asset management tool for small drinking water and wastewater utilities. CUPSS provides a simple, comprehensive approach based on EPA's highly successful Simple Tools for Effective Performance (STEP) Guide series. Use CUPSS to help you develop a record of your assets, schedule of required tasks, an understanding of your financial situation, and a tailored asset management plan. This Web site is designed for CUPSS users, trainers and all others involved with small drinking water or wastewater utilities. Free Access 

Costs of Infrastructure Failure
When a water main goes down, a utility's direct costs for labor and materials to return that main to service are relatively easy to estimate. But what about the hidden costs resulting from a water infrastructure failure? How can you assign a cost to customer inconvenience, traffic delays, police and emergency services, lost economic activity, diminished fire-fighting capacity, and human injury? Such "social" costs incurred by water infrastructure failure are very real, but because of their nature, they have been impossible to estimate accurately. Until now. This AWWA Research Foundation report and modeling software provides water system managers with the first comprehensive method for quantifying social costs of water infrastructure downtime. For the first time, it is possible to estimate not only the direct utility costs of a water infrastructure failure but also response and recovery costs to other parties or city departments, costs of damage to property, costs of illness caused by the failure, and even the dollar cost of traffic delays and customer inconvenience. 2002 - Softbound - 92 pp. ISBN 1583212647; Catalog No. 90918 $$ Order Now 

Getting the Most Out of Your Infrastructure Assets
This guide provides an overview of the goals, philosophy, principles and practical methods and tools available for asset management. (60 pages, 2002) $$ Order Now 

Get your Assets in Gear
Learn tips from the experts for getting more out of your infrastructure with fewer financial resources. Topics in this disk include: asset valuation, condition assessment, short and long term maintenance strategies, balancing funding and how to meet jurisdictional reporting requirements. (CDROM, 2007) $$ Order Now 

Implementing Asset Management - A Practical Guide
This Practical Guide builds on the popular Managing Public Infrastructure Assets to Minimize Cost and Maximize Performance developed in 2002. The Practical Guide provides a common sense, risk-based approach that any utility can use, regardless of size or how they currently manage their infrastructure assets. This resource is light on theory and heavy on practical insight, utilizing a top-down approach to most effectively and efficiently use existing knowledge and resources to improve a utility's management of their assets. This document provides a short, but thorough overview of everything a utility will need to get started with a new asset management program or reinvigorate their current program. (76 pages, 2007) $$ (NACWA, AMWA, WEF member discounts available) Order Now 

Sewer Maintenance Innovations
Whether they are old or new, combined or separate, sewers need to be properly maintained. This program covers sewer condition assessment, preventative maintenance methods, old and new technologies and how to define good maintenance practices. (CDROM, 2007) $$ Order Now 

Taking Stock of Your Water System: A Simple Asset Inventory Guide for Very Small Drinking Water Systems
EPA has developed a "Simple Tools for Effective Performance" (STEP) Guide to assist very small systems in conducting a simple inventory of infrastructure for capital planning purposes. This STEP Guide is essential in keeping these types of water systems running properly and making sure that the drinking water produced by these systems is reliable, safe and affordable. (October 2004) Free Download 

Water Infrastructure at a Turning Point: The Road to Sustainable Asset Management
This report will give you a foundational knowledge of the issues surrounding our aging water infrastructure and offer you a common sense, affordable approach to managing your own water infrastructure assets. There has been much discussion about the deteriorating physical condition of the US water infrastructure. The expense and effort required to replace is so daunting it seems impossible to accomplish. The water infrastructure is aging and costing more and more each year to maintain. Where does a water utility begin the process of rehabilitation and replacement of an entire water system? Our water and wastewater infrastructure was built over generations and can be rebuilt at an affordable pace if we make smart decisions now. The task for our generation is to initiate and manage a modern, methodical, and sustainable asset renewal process. The book comes with a ready-to-use Microsoft PowerPoint slide presentation on CD. Titled "Water Infrastructure at a Turning Point," the presentation illustrates major points about water infrastructure replacement and asset management in a quick and simple manner. It is perfect for presenting to utility employees, city councils, and other groups who have an interest in city water infrastructure needs. 2006 - Softbound - 52 pp. ISBN 1583214224; Catalog No. 20615 $$ Order Now 

Water Treatment Plant Infrastructure Assessment Manager, Second Edition
This CD-ROM program provides water utility managers a precise method to evaluate the condition of water treatment plant infrastructure and assign priority ratings for capital improvements. This program provides an organized way to gather and record information about the physical condition of the total infrastructure - the systems, subsystems, equipment, and buildings - of a drinking water treatment facility. The software produces numerical scores rating the condition of each treatment plant infrastructure system and component and the vulnerability of the treatment plant relative to the condition of each component. This enables the manager to both evaluate the condition of systems and equipment and prioritize capital improvements. This software puts the manager in control of treatment plant infrastructure, by providing information on the condition of every system, subsystem, and piece of equipment in the treatment plant. It gives managers the information to prioritize infrastructure improvements and make best use of funds. 2003 - CD-ROM ISBN 1583212949; Catalog No. 90843 $$ Order Now 

Upgrading and Retrofitting Water and Wastewater Treatment Plants (Manual of Practice No. 28)
Upgrading and retrofitting represents the largest investment a public or private utility will make. This is an especially difficult procedure because the rest of the plant must continue to operate soundly during the upgrading effort. This Manual of Practice covers the latest upgrading and retrofitting procedures and shows how to avoid common pitfalls, cost overruns, and permit violations. (230 pages, 2005) $$ Order Now 


Asset inventory
This measure gauges a utility's efforts to assess assets and asset conditions, as the first steps towards building a comprehensive asset management program.

Example calculations: 

  • Inventory coverage (percent): 100 X (total number of critical assets inventoried within a reasonable period of time (e.g., 5-10 years) / total number of critical assets). A utility will need to first define what it considers to be a critical asset and a complete inventory will involve understanding the following for each:

    • Age and location;

    • Asset size and/or capacity;

    • Valuation data (e.g., original and replacement cost);

    • Installation date and expected service life;

    • Maintenance and performance history; and

    • Construction materials and recommended maintenance practices.1 

  • Condition assessment coverage (percent): 100 X (total number of critical assets with condition assessed and categorized into condition categories within a reasonable period of time (e.g., 5-10 years) / total number of critical assets). Condition categories could include: unacceptable, improvement needed, adequate, good, and excellent to reflect expected service levels and accepted risks.

Asset (system) renewal/replacement
This measure assesses asset renewal/replacement rates over time. The measure should reflect utility targets, which will vary depending on each utility's determinations of acceptable risks for different asset classes. Decisions on asset replacement typically factor in internally agreed-upon risks and objectives, which may differ by asset class and other considerations. For instance, a utility may decide to run certain assets to failure based on benefit-cost analysis.

Example calculations: 

  • Asset renewal/replacement rate (percent): 100 X (total number of assets replaced per year for each asset class / total number of assets in each asset class). For example, a two percent per year replacement target (50-year renewal) for a particular asset class could be identified as the basis for performance monitoring.
    - or -

  • Asset (system) renewal/replacement rate: 100 X (total actual expenditures or total amount of funds reserved for renewal and replacement for each asset group / total present worth for renewal and replacement needs for each asset group). This is a QualServe Indicator.2 

Water distribution/collection system integrity
For drinking water utilities, this measure quantifies the number of pipeline leaks and breaks. Distribution system integrity has importance for health, customer service, operational, and asset management reasons. For wastewater utilities, this measure examines the frequency of collection system failures. When tracked over time, a utility can evaluate whether its failure rate is decreasing, stable, or increasing. When data are maintained to characterize failures by pipe type and age, type of failure, and cost of repairs, decisions regarding routine maintenance and replacement/renewals can be better made.3 

Example calculation (drinking water utilities): 

  • Leakage and breakage frequency rate (percent): 100 X ((total number of leaks + total number of breaks) / total miles of distribution piping per year). (Note: leaks and breaks are distinctly different events.) This is a QualServe Indicator.4 

Example calculation (wastewater utilities):

  • Collection system failure rate (percent): 100 X (total number of collection system failures / total miles of collection system piping per year). This is a QualServe Indicator.5 

Planned maintenance
Planned maintenance includes both preventive and predictive maintenance. Preventive maintenance is performed according to a predetermined schedule rather than in response to failure. Predictive maintenance is initiated when signals indicate that maintenance is due. All other maintenance is categorized as corrective or reactive.6 

Example calculations:
This measure can be measured in different ways. Calculating costs may be preferable to encourage business decisions based on total cost; however, the reliability of costs is uncertain. Hours are likely to be less variable than costs, but not all utilities track hours. Thus, cost and hours ratios are desirable, where possible.

  • Planned maintenance ratio by hours (percent): 100 X (hours of planned maintenance / (hours of planned + corrective maintenance)). This is a QualServe Indicator.7 

  • Planned maintenance ratio by cost (percent): 100 X (cost of planned maintenance / (cost of planned + corrective maintenance)). This is a QualServe Indicator.8 


[1]  From the U.S. General Accounting Office, Water Infrastructure: Comprehensive Asset Management Has Potential to Help Utilities Better Identify Needs and Plan Future Investments. GAO-04-461. March 2004. available: http://www.gao.gov/new.items/d04461.pdf 

[2] From AWWA and AwwaRF, Selection and Definition of Performance Indicators for Water and Wastewater Utilities, p. 53. 2004. Note: This material is copyrighted and any reprinting must be by permission of the American Water Works Association. 

[3] From AWWA and AwwaRF, Selection and Definition of Performance Indicators for Water and Wastewater Utilities, p. 70. 2004. Note: This material is copyrighted and any reprinting must be by permission of the American Water Works Association. 

[4] Ibid., p. 61. 

[5] Ibid., p. 70. 

[6] Ibid., p. 65. 

[7] Ibid., p. 66. 

[8] From AWWA and AwwaRF, Selection and Definition of Performance Indicators for Water and Wastewater Utilities, p. 66. 2004. Note: This material is copyrighted and any reprinting must be by permission of the American Water Works Association.