How to Implement an Asset Management Program

At the No-Dig Show, municipalities and engineers discuss different ways utilities can start assessing their water and sewer systems in order to prioritize future work

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Large and small municipal water and sewer departments realize the need to assess the condition of their systems and have a way to monitor them to determine when repairs are needed.

“The utility that I work for is trying to set up an asset management program, but we had no real idea where to start,” says Nicolas Larsen, an engineer for a municipality in northern California. “Attending some of the sessions this week have helped give us some ideas of what we should be doing.”

Larsen and two others from his small department are attending the No-Dig Show in Palm Springs, California, this week. The three sat in on several educational sessions Monday afternoon that focused on asset management.

“You’re hearing case studies from other departments on what they’ve done and what they’ve learned along the way,” Larsen says. “Both good and bad things. So it’s extremely valuable.”

The Regional Municipality of York, which stretches north from Toronto to Lake Simcoe in Ontario, is one of the municipalities that discussed its asset management program at the show.

“Our project started with the field investigations with CCTV inspection of various storm sewer pipe segments, maintenance holes, ditch inlets and catch basins,” says Lauren Young, a project engineer with Stantec Consulting, which was hired to assist the municipality with the work. “This was the region’s first storm sewer condition assessment program, so prior to this, there hadn’t been any other CCTV investigations and very minimal cleaning and flushing of the storm sewers.”

As a result of no prior work being done, the engineers and contractors encountered a significant amount of debris and flooding in the pipe.

“We found this to be a result of a large number of their outfalls being completely buried or flooded,” Young says. “We did attempt to clean and flush as many storm sewers as possible to try and complete the inspections.”

In total, about 76 percent of the pipes were inspected and 93 percent of the structures — such as treatment plants — were inspected.

“The reason we were unsuccessful on inspecting all the pipes was because of all the flooding and debris,” Young says.

As the inspection crews ran across emergency repairs or defects such as pipe collapses or cross bores, those were reported to York officials immediately.

To complete the inspections, Stantec and contractors used a program called Virtual Project Manager on field investigations. Virtual Project Manager is a tool that provided Stantec with access to the region’s GIS data. That data was then used for forecasting future work, generating progress reports, field maps and site-specific theories.

“It essentially uses the GIS data as a base layer and then we used it as a tracking tool to track the inspection process of each individual asset,” Young says. “York liked it because they could track how and where the inspection process was at.”

The inspection pinpointed areas of concern and provided York an idea of what was the exact issue whether it be cracks, breaks, collapses, or other defects. Having the data now gives York an idea of what repairs are needed, including everything from CIPP repairs to open-cut replacement of assets.

Out of 815 pipes inspected, 28 were found to be failed — collapsed or significantly deformed — and 96 pipes were recommended for rehab.

Johnson County Wastewater, from Missouri, also highlighted its collections system asset management program, which was used for rehab decisions and the development of a prioritization model. Johnson County officials described how they use the model to assess risk and plan, execute, and manage the utility’s trenchless renewal program.

“It’s really quite impressive hearing what other utilities are doing and getting ideas for where we need to start,” Larsen says. “Some are further ahead in this area than others, but we’re all giving each other ideas here.”

COLE Publishing staff will be at the No-Dig Show throughout the week attending the sessions and will be in the exhibit hall (Booth 368). To reach us, email


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