Asset Management: Getting the most from your infrastructure

April 11, 2013

By James R. Hegarty, P.E., Barbara Marczak, P.E., and Brian Vilmont, P.E.

Our infrastructure provides the foundation on which our communities are built: the roads that enable our transportation, the watermains that provide our drinking water, the sewers and treatment plants that put clean water back into our environment, and the buildings upon which our communities depend for services and support. All the assets that make up our infrastructure systems must be managed in order to maintain their value to our communities. Without asset management, our limited funds will continue to be depleted with reactionary repairs instead of leveraged to maximize the value of each dollar spent.

Asset management is not a new concept. The old Aesop fable of the grasshopper, who sings during summer instead of preparing for winter, and the ant, who stores up food for winter during the summer, ended with this lesson: “It is best to prepare for the days of necessity.”  We know that our assets will not last forever, but we can get the most value from them if we invest in their management and maintenance. Like the ant, it is important that we do our work now and not wait for the proverbial winter for our assets to fail. To be able to choose from the many tools available for asset management, it is important to understand the fundamentals first.

How asset management works

The goal of asset management is to provide the desired level of service from our assets at the lowest, long–term costs. Proactive asset management can reduce short–term reactionary expenditures and make the most out of the available funding. To accomplish this, we need to follow these basic steps:

1. Appraisal

  • Identify Assets
  • Document System History & Concerns
  • Determine Existing & Proposed Level of Service
  • Select Desired Management System
  • Develop Work Plan *
    *Required to apply for SAW Grant Funding

2. Inventory

  • Mapping
  • Criticality Review

3. Assessment

  • Condition: Physical  & Capacity
  • Risk
  • Cost: Maintenance & Rehabilitation/Replacement

4. Asset Management Plan

  • Maintenance Strategies
  • Capital Improvement Plan
  • Funding Alternatives & Strategies

5. Implementation

  • Public Education
  • Culture: Staff & Community Investment
  • Funding: Internal & External Sources
  • Tracking & Reporting: Community Dashboard

Grants Available

The State of Michigan is moving forward with funding of asset management plan development for municipalities through  the Stormwater, Asset Management, and Wastewater (SAW) Grants. Later this summer, MDEQ will accept grant applications for this program, providing up to $2,000,000 in grant funding per municipality. SAW Grants will be awarded on a first–come, first–served basis. For more information about Asset Management Plans and MDEQ SAW Grants, contact Jim Hegarty, P.E.,  Brian Vilmont, P.E. at (616) 364–8491, or Barbara Marczack, P.E. at (231) 798-0101.


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