Strategic Asset Management Planning: Changing Regulations and Opportunities

strategic asset management

In water and wastewater systems, an asset is a component of a facility with an independent physical and functional identity and age (e.g., pump, motor, sedimentation tank, main). In 1977, 72% of capital investment in water and wastewater infrastructure was federally funded; by 2010 that dwindled to a mere 17%, with the balance generated from state and local funding, grants, and loans.

On April 30 in Livonia, MI, OHM Advisors and its partners from the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ), City of Livonia and Assetic hosted Capital Improvement Planning: Changing Regulations and Opportunities – the latest in its Lunch & Learn workshop series – to a packed room of concerned public employees and local authority representatives.

The renewal and replacement of the assets that make up our nation’s water infrastructure is a constant and ongoing task. To efficiently manage this important part of a utility’s business, many have turned to asset management to maximize the value of capital as well as operations and maintenance expenditures.

Bob Schneider and Jaclyn Merchant, from the MDEQ Revolving Loans Division, addressed upcoming changes in asset management planning, federal-mandated changes to State Revolving Funding (SRF) program, and changes to asset management requirements and revolving loans – effecting AMP, SAW, SRF and Water Resources Reform and Development Act programs.

Tom Wilson, from City of Livonia Department of Public Works, along with OHM Advisors’ Murat Ulasir, shared best practices to address municipal asset management challenges. They also emphasized the importance of utilizing a well-planned and well-developed geographic information system (GIS) – and smart technologies – to significantly improve the decision-making and planning efforts for infrastructure maintenance and replacement.

Brad Campbell from Assetic educated guests about the utilization of strategic asset management tools to meet the required level of service in the most cost-effective manner. The infrastructure gap presents three challenges:
1)    Locate more funds – e.g. grants, low interest loans
2)    Raise taxes and rates – while often necessary, this is never popular
3)    Reduce level of service – equally as unpopular

However, strategic asset management provides a unique, viable option: to optimize current limited spending to achieve the biggest return on investment. Significant improvements in smart technology – optimization software, robots, water analytics like H20metrics, smart sensors, and more – have aided the identification of the biggest areas of opportunity. Brad exhibited specific technologies and tools that help develop realistic, long-term operation and maintenance strategies and Capital Improvement Plans (CIP).

One thing is certain in this changing landscape: with funding increasingly difficult to obtain and regulations altering the asset management scene, using smart technology to strategically manage the repair, maintenance and even replacement of assets is the way of the future.

Want more information from last week’s topic? Questions or thoughts on infrastructure asset planning, management, and related smart technology tools? We’d love to hear from you!

Be sure to subscribe to our blog, as we’re soon launching an exciting new podcast audio streaming series featuring relevant topics for advancing communities – with infrastructure asset planning and management the first subject we’ll cover.


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