Since there were no more questions from the participants and the one-hour webinar was nearing ending, Heather asked Ross for his final thoughts regarding asset management.
I’m just thinking about that simple asset management diagram while you were discussing. So this was the diagram that I used last June and it’s quite topical around the place.
And it’s the core of asset management planning. Of course, there’s life cycle asset management when you’re looking at your operational planning, maintenance, renewals and replacements, new capital, disposal of assets, optimizing all those programs.
The feed into that is what service are you providing? What demand for that service is going on?
And I think that was again, coming back to Flint, one of the problems there because of, they obviously lost economy and population out of Flint from maybe two or three decades ago.
And it was around affordability of infrastructure, it’s the hardest scenario to manage when you’ve got economy and population moving out of an area because you’ve got lots of assets for the previous demand for that, but not so much to pay for it.
And then “Risk” and then you’ve got that two sides of financials, expenditure, and revenue. See you could produce a plan that shows you need to spend lots and lots of money but somebody’s got to pay for it.
And so we still find this diagram very helpful and just understanding the whole of that asset management process. What isn’t on this diagram because I tried to produce it for maximum simplicity is inventory.
It’s just assumed that you will have an inventory before you start trying to make the rest of those decisions.
But one final thought on the inventory piece is again sort of tying it back to Flint. When Flint happened, a logical question that started being asked all around the country is, do we have the same problem?
Is there lead service lines in our system? And many utilities didn’t know the answer to that question.
So one of the reasons we want to do inventories and understand what our assets are is if we can’t answer that question, then we don’t know if we have the same kinds of risk.
Again, sort of that hidden risk because there are hidden risks that if something changes in our water quality, would we have the same problem, would we have the same issues?
And so really understanding your assets, what you have, what condition they’re in, where they are located, can help you in so many ways.
It’s a very hard question for a lot of utilities to ask or to answer was, do we have the same potential problem.
And many utilities are out there looking right now to see if they have lead service lines anymore. So hopefully in the future, if we have more inventories we will be able to answer the question right away.
If something else happens somewhere we can say well we don’t have it or we do. So the more you know about your facilities, it can only help you. So knowing things is never a bad thing. It’s always a good thing. It can always help you.
Ross: It helps manage that risk, doesn’t it? And also in the delivery of service.
PHOTO CREDIT: U.S. 83 Overpass, Minot, North Dakota by J. Stephen Conn via Flickr Creative Commons License.