Public water systems in Ohio must have an asset management program plan in place by October—it’s time to ‘plan the work’ and ‘work the plan’
Have you ever played the telephone game where you line up five people, present a saying to the first person, and by the time you get to the end, what was stated at the beginning of the line is different but similar at the end? I have found that the same holds true when asking individuals what they think asset management is and what is fully involved.
In Ohio, the Ohio EPA is developing a mandate within Ohio Senate Bill 2 (SB 2) for water organizations to develop an asset management program by October 1, 2018.
SB 2 addresses recurring asset management problems seen at some public water systems, including deferred maintenance, lack of management oversight, and inadequate historical records of water lines or maps of service areas. These issues too often result in extended periods of water-use restrictions or having no water at all available for system users.
As part of their water system CIP prioritization, the City of Upper Arlington enacted a water line replacement project. A City that previously only repaired breaks and was reactionary, now includes water line replacement in their budget every year.
Addressing the SB 2 requirements can seem like a rather daunting task, especially to have those items in place by October. However, through my involvement with the Ohio American Water Works Association (OAWWA) Asset Management Committee and discussions with Ohio EPA, I feel that we can provide an appropriate and valid approach for organizations to move in the right direction of developing an asset management program and mitigate the “telephone game.”
Many organizations may not be fully aware of what is required for an asset management program, what the breadth of tasks are involved in the development of a program, and a legitimate timeframe and budget to develop such a program. It is also important to understand that one size does not fill all organizations.
We have followed a successful framework for developing or enhancing asset management practices within the public-sector environment. The framework reflects a philosophy of asset management that emphasizes a comprehensive view of the operation of an organization. Asset management is not simply a system an organization can buy off the shelf. It is a structured approach to managing infrastructure assets that improves decisions about how and when to acquire, maintain, operate, renew, and dispose of assets.
The philosophy that supports the framework is based on the notion that both asset capabilities (condition, capacity, and performance) and organizational capabilities (people, process, and technology) are needed for successful outcomes. Asset management is made up of many processes, is integrated throughout the organization, and involves most, if not all, staff. Asset management is a business discipline and culture that is enabled by people, business processes, data, and technology that produce tangible performance results that benefit customers.
In our involvement on OAWWA’s Asset Management Committee, as well as our monitoring and discussions with Ohio EPA, we feel this is the most logical and successful approach that organizations need to take as they look to develop their Asset Management Programs that, in turn, will also satisfy the requirements for SB 2.
Our approach for organizations on how to develop their asset management program.
Plan the work; work the plan
Based on our proven framework, we can divide Asset Management Program Development into two specific phases—“Planning the Work” and “Working the Plan.” We have found too often that organizations start right into implementation activities, albeit with good intentions; however, those activities more times than not do not provide anticipated results that are tied to organizational business needs or business processes. I fully believe that the most appropriate approach is through the development of an “Asset Management Implementation Road Map.”
This approach aligns well with the requirements of SB 2, mainly because organizations are going to need to understand what they have first before even moving forward with any development. Therefore, our defined approach allows organizations to gain a full understanding of what is already in place (needs assessment/current state review), what is needed to progress toward the requirements of SB 2 and an Asset Management Program (gap analysis), and the recommendations/tasks required to proceed (road map). This model, which relates to the “Assessment” component of our defined framework, has served as a proven framework for our clients to assess, develop, and enhance their current asset management practices.
Plan the work
Each task will strengthen foundations built from previous activities, providing an organization a comprehensive framework for developing their Asset Management Program.
- Task 1 is focused on conducting a needs assessment/current state review to assess organization needs relative to both asset management best practices as well as the requirements for Ohio Senate Bill 2.
- Task 2 consists of developing a gap analysis, defining what the organization needs to accomplish to meet those best practices and requirements based on their current state.
- Task 3 is focused on the development of the asset management program implementation “road map” and benefits the will occur with such an implementation.
Work the plan
Once your road map is in place, your organization is ready for implementation based on the recommendations defined within the road map. For organizations looking to develop their assist management program, Ohio Senate Bill 2 is that opportunity to move forward. And with public water systems ranging in size, funding ability, and organizational structure, there is a scalable, practical asset management solution for every type.
About the author
Andrew Faley has been working in the water industry for 24 years and in asset management for 10 years. He is an active member of the Ohio Section American Water Works Association Asset Management Committee and is in Stantec’s Columbus, Ohio, office.
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