Pennoni Perspective Volume 22 • Issue 2 • Summer 2018 - Page 28

“Water is the new oil” is a phrase we’ve seen frequently in the last few years across many media outlets. As people in some parts of the United States are painfully aware, it is a natural resource that comes and goes with shifts in weather patterns and seasons. We appreciate it when we have it – almost to the point of taking it for granted – and then panic when supply appears to be wavering. Water is natural, however, the process of gathering, treating, and delivering it is completely man-made. And that is where future challenges lay. Aging water infrastructure leads to unpredictable results, such as distribution main breaks that halt delivery, flood streets, and communities, and ultimately cause property damage. And even worse? Systems with control failures or malfunctions that deliver water which is less than perfectly potable. Given that the human body i s made up of anywhere from 50- 75 percent water, our constitution literally depends on the reliable delivery of clean water. Putting it in that context truly highlights the critical nature of the infrastructure that supports it. Our aging systems continue to be a major concern, with a high price tag and a public liability which is highlighted by the low grade (D) given by the American Society of Civil Engineers. Asset management is the latest “buzz” meant to represent the system level need and desire to optimize the lifecycle cost of infrastructure assets. Yet asset management can be practiced in many forms, from spreadsheets and databases to full digital integration of the latest management system software. For many years, Pennoni has assisted water utilities in the management of assets using varied and everchanging tools, adopting whatever current technology was available. Until recently, the water industry has had no formally accepted asset management best practices, making it an intimidating and seemingly impossible task for utilities on a tight budget. 28 | P E N N O N I But today, all of that has changed; the timing is right to implement a robust asset management system for several reasons: • The standardization of asset management guidance and best practices make acceptable asset management programs easier to develop and the future of such practices more predictable. We can provide resources for our clients who are wading through these new standardizations and will recommend and assist in implementing the solutions to best fit the assets. • Michigan, Ohio, and New Jersey have adopted legislative requirements for water utility asset management programs, and several more states are considering similar requirements. We are able to help clients in these states understand the necessary requirements. • More states are contemplating requiring an asset management program as a condition to obtain government grants or below market interest rate loans for capital improvements. We are keeping an eye on these developing measures to help our clients adopt asset management systems as quickly and easily as possible to meet these conditions. • Asset management software development has matured and is better able to interact with other management systems technologies. Geographic Information Systems (GIS); customer, maintenance and laboratory management systems; and SCADA programs integrate data for accurately identifying and classifying assets, their criticality, their current condition, and predicting future maintenance and capital costs. 3D Laser Scanning simplifies the identification of building and vertical assets, while also cost-effectively producing better “as-built” records and opportunities for improved operator training and visual simulation of the proper use of vertical assets. Technology for identifying the horizontal and vertical