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With the advent of strict new water regulations in Canada, municipal water providers are seeking new ways to protect the drinking water and the infrastructure that houses it. Currently the degenerate state of much of the infrastructure and the enormous costs associated with rehabilitation or replacement is forcing many municipalities to reevaluate the way they have historically planned both financially and logistically for future development.

Asset Management is the new buzzword in the Water and Wastewater industry…but what is Asset Management? For some municipal utilities it means a major structural change in the way they conduct their business. It is a business process, which must be built on an enterprise model to in order to manage the many mission critical applications, and determine the current and future needs of infrastructure assets.

In anticipation of pending legislation, the Region of Peel initiated a proactive approach to maintaining their water and wastewater assets including plants, pumping stations, and the linear systems that are needed to support a public sector utility. The Region decided that Asset Management for them wasn't a piece of software or technology; it was a better way of doing business. They recognized the need to automate their many asset management related business processes including capital planning and budget decision making, preparation of master plans and development cost charges. And, as a result, they decided to move forward with a strategy to enhance their existing asset management processes and develop a comprehensive business plan around the management of their water and wastewater assets

The key to the project's success was the need for extensive communication amongst all stakeholders, as this study would impact the way the Region of Peel conducts its business processes and manages information. This meant pulling together the engineering, operations and maintenance, information technology, and finance divisions to ensure everyone was aware of the project, understood its objectives, and would agree with the projects conclusions.

The first objective of the project was to construct a plan to automate the decision making process as much as possible, while identifying any “gaps” in their current asset management processes. Using the “Six What's of Asset Management” – What do you own? What is it worth? What is its condition? What is the remaining service life? What/ when do we need it? and, What is the impact on rates?, the gaps between the current situation in the Region of Peel and their Asset Management “Utopia” were identified and a plan to address the shortfalls is currently being developed. The plan will ensure that a fully functional, automated asset management system, can be specified and implemented. and ultimately become an indispensable tool in infrastructure choices.

Peel currently has a robust asset management business model for their water and wastewater assets. On the linear side, Peel has business processes and information all working together that cover the full spectrum of managing these assets. From tracking, maintaining , optimizing, planning and financially supporting these valuable assets. As an example, capital planning was previously was a lengthy manual process that looked at approximately 500 assets. Now, the Region performs the process of looking at every single linear asset, more than 65,000 pipes, with the click of a button.

For the Region of Peel, Asset Management has, thus far, enabled them to automate the time consuming but critical processes necessary for making sound business decisions. They now have an extensive plan for developing complete asset management practices for water and wastewater assets, including treatment facilities. Asset Management will provide them with the authority to make defensible choices about infrastructure, the very backbone of every municipality, without the enormous burden on both financial and human resources. It will give them the freedom they need to allocate those resources towards developing for its citizens, a better community and a sustainable future.

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: 2006-01-01

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