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Five Years of Asset Management at Seattle Public Utilities

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As are many U.S. water and wastewater utilities, Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is challenged to ensure cost effective delivery of services to customers in a changing regulatory environment, where rate pressures and public scrutiny are paramount, infrastructure is aging, and environmental sensitivity is essential.

In 2002, SPU began implementation of a comprehensive asset management program, and although full operationalization of our asset management concepts is years away, major advances have been achieved that have resulted in benefits to customers throughout the Seattle area. When deciding to implement an asset management program, SPU executive leaders sought best practices and made a deliberate decision to launch into what it terms an “early gains approach”. They felt that starting off by conducting a comprehensive gap analysis and implementing a massive program initially would “drown” progress. Instead, they chose to establish a core philosophy, implement key asset management elements, and focus on early gains to build staff confidence. This approach has proven to be successful.

Keys to success so far have been the strong executive leadership, the clarity of process and examples of successes we have obtained from Australian organizations practicing asset management, and a committed employee base at SPU open to new ideas and ways of providing exceptional services to customers.

This paper introduces SPU's asset management philosophy and vision, describes the ten most significant corporate decisions that have been made over the past five years, discusses the culture change initiatives underway, and provides a general description of SPU's accomplishments to date.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2008-01-01

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