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For more than 20 years, the Fairfax County, Va. Department of Public Works and Environmental Services has had an active financial planning and management program in place to ensure that the County's Integrated Sewer System's (the System) financial needs are met. From its inception, the financial management program has focused on providing managers with the information necessary to optimize financial decisions and maintaining significant cash reserves to provide flexibility to optimize capital project funding source selection.

The County, like many utilities, has planned for capacity needs going well into the future. However, with much of the necessary infrastructure in place and ready to serve its customers, the County is transitioning from a Capital Improvement Plan (CIP) that included a number of upgrade/expansion projects to a CIP that is focused on Renewal and Replacement (R&R) projects designed to maintain the System's performance. Historically, large CIP projects have served as a vehicle for identifying and funding R&R projects, especially at the County's treatment facility. With the anticipated reduction of large CIP projects over the next several years, it was necessary for the Wastewater Management Program (WWM) to develop a new process for identifying and budgeting R&R projects to ensure the System's financial performance, level of service, and environmental compliance are maintained on an ongoing basis.

WWM selected a condition-based approach for the R&R program to support the Asset Management Program's goal of implementing a formal condition management program for all System assets. WWM's initial goals were to quickly implement the R&R program and accurately assess the System's future funding needs based on asset condition. Because it was not practical or cost effective to begin a full-scale condition assessment program for all System assets, the WWM chose to first focus on “Critical” System assets, prioritizing the asset condition assessments based on the consequence of the asset's failure. Based on carefully selected criteria that reflected and supported the overlying Asset Management Program Goals, the prioritization included measures based on level of service, environment impacts, public and employee health, life and safety, and estimated cost of replacement. This paper outlines the process implemented by WWM for determining an asset's criticality.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2005-01-01

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