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Since its formation in 1997, Seattle Public Utilities has prepared and implemented three strategic business plans. The most recent one incorporates a number of intiatives, principles and practices that are directly and visibly impacting the infrastructure, environment and service the customer sees. This presentation will describe how strategic plans and an asset management program have redirected capital and maintenance investment, achieved life cycle cost savings, and enhanced environmental and customer service levels.

The results of these efforts has been a reduction of 200 million in CIP and 10 percent operation and maintenance savings to the customer. Much of this has been achieved through a rigorous evaluation and decision-making process that extends throughout the utility. It involves a “triple bottom line business analysis approach,” meaning that before any implementation or budget is expended on projects and programs, an evaluation must be made of economic, environmental and social costs vs. benefits and associated options. The resulting decisions have produced tangible outcomes to the community. One of these has been the creation of a new “Green Streets” approach to surface water runoff and water quality in neighborhoods. With the goal of controlling storm water flow and resulting water quality contamination of water bodies, the conventional curb-gutter-sidewalk and street design has been cast aside in favor of a new approach. in several neighborhoods. Swales, street landscape and pervious surfaces have changed the function and appearance of street corridors; new water quality and flow control objectives have been achieved; property values have increased; life cycle costs have been reduced; and a new paradym has been created.

This paper and presentation will also cover other outcomes that involve interagency collaboration with City functions: Restore Our Waters (ROW) and Sustainable Building Programs. By applying asset management principles and triple bottom line analysis, which looks outside the usual utility box, greater community benefits are being achieved. This impacts other utility functions and city-wide programs. Examples will illustrate how opportunities exist to not only meet utility goals but also provide services for broader general government functions. This can be achieved, in most instances, without taking on the associated financial burden.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2005-01-01

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