Best practices in water infrastructure asset management
Mounting evidence internationally suggests that the integrity of drinking water and wastewater infrastructure is at risk without a concerted effort to improve the management of key assets – pipelines, treatment plants, and other facilities – and a significant investment in maintaining, rehabilitating, and replacing these assets. For example, in the USA, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates that projected investment needs range from $485 billion to nearly $1 200 billion, and in South Africa the Government estimates that $100 billion will need to be spent on all infrastructures over the next few years. The severity of this situation is now being taken seriously by many national administrations.
Water supply and wastewater utilities where physical infrastructure assets are critical areas in achieving business objectives will be in a position to draw lessons from different countries on strategic initiatives, as highlighted in a report commissioned by the Global Water Research Coalition.
According to Jay Bhagwan, the Water Research Commission Director who spearheaded the compilation of asset management best practices publication, recognising asset management as a fruitful area for research is relatively new. Asset management covers a broad area and has roots in many disciplines. The application of asset management principles in the global water industry is of particular interest at the present time due to pressures from governments, regulators, shareholders and consumer groups in many countries to provide cost-effective and sustainable water services at the lowest cost to customers and the environment .Recognising that the application of good science and innovation to this new area of importance was rapidly on the increase, it was deemed necessary to capture the novel and creative applications, techniques and processes that were emerging.
“I have had the privilege and a huge leap in learning through compiling this publication on best practices, since it demonstrates the advancements and progress being made in applying innovative and novel techniques and processes in the management of water and sanitation infrastructure” says Mr Bhagwan.
The cases highlight examples in different countries of strategic initiatives at the highest level, from the development of policy and legislation towards ensuring that asset management becomes a legal requirement for all water services providers to innovative techniques for infrastructure risk assessment; decision- making techniques for capital investments; studies on the implementation of asset management in utility practice, the use of GIS (Geographic information systems) and information technology, and the various techniques of meter replacement, pressure management, continuous leak detection and rehabilitation of infrastructure.
“This tapestry of best practice from around the globe demonstrates the giant strides the sector is taking in ensuring that the good principles of Strategic Asset Management are implemented, applied and built on” explains Mr Bhagwan.
This wealth of information is just a small taste of many initiatives which are taking place and is encouraging in realizing that professionals around the world are taking asset management seriously. According to Mr Bhagwan “Strategic Asset Management is growing and will shape how we provide water services into the future. For now, we must learn, absorb knowledge and put good practice to use, because things will not get better if we do nothing.”
Click here to download a copy of the report commissioned by the Global Water Research Coalition .
For further information contact
Mr Jay Bhagwan
WRC Director -Water Use and Waste Management
Tel: 012 330 9042