9.13.22 Municipal Asset Management

While infrastructure asset management is an enduring topic of interest for municipal professionals, recent federal legislation has prompted a heightened focus on the subject.

With the passage of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the federal government has prioritized investments ranging from modernizing the country’s roads and bridges, water infrastructure, and airports; to creating safer streets and roads; to reconnecting communities divided by transportation infrastructure. This $1.2 trillion investment includes new funding open directly to local governments. Developing a list of projects and costs is a good first step to take advantage of this funding.

A municipal asset-management program can provide insights critical to the development of a funding strategy – as well as funding justification – through the identification of system needs, timing of critical work, and resources required to keep up communities’ owned infrastructure.

Asset management is defined by the Water Environment Federation as:

An integrated set of processes to minimize the lifecycle costs of assets, at an acceptable level of risk, while continuously delivering the intended function, or Level of Service. Assets are the components that make up the infrastructure systems, and effective management comes down to accounting for the entire lifecycle cost of each.

Asset Life Cycle

Credit: Dr. Jon Warner in Assets/Operations, Feb. 12, 2014

While certainly a worthwhile undertaking, building an asset-management program can take years. That’s why CMT offers our clients a streamlined, no-specialized-software-required process that municipalities can perform to get started. This initial step can help municipalities learn what they have, estimate the conditions of those assets, and identify how much funding may be needed to sustain that infrastructure.

CMT’s Desktop Analysis Process: Overview

With the aim of equipping communities with vital foundational knowledge about their assets, CMT’s Desktop Analysis process is driven by information currently available to the owner, such as total pipe length, number of pumping stations, miles of power line, lane miles of roads, etc. Data may come from a variety of sources, including institutional knowledge, paper maps, reports, historic plans, CAD files, and/or GIS. The process builds upon the six-step asset management strategic planning approach outlined in A Guide to Sustainable Asset Management for Canadian Municipalities, published by RVA in 2002.

A Desktop Analysis provides the opportunity for an owner to assess, think about, and discuss the overall system needs and associated costs before implementing a full asset-management program.

Performing a desktop analysis will especially benefit small to mid-sized communities by providing a big-picture assessment of their assets, the asset value, and a path forward – all at a relatively low cost.

Benefits of performing the Desktop Analysis:

  • Quantifies the assets and identifies gaps in data
  • Communicates annual need/cost to maintain, renew, and improve the assets
  • Better defines the magnitude of the challenge
  • Helps with data collection, condition assessment, system valuation, planning, and implementation
  • Supports more informed planning

CMT’s Desktop Analysis Process: 6 Questions to Ask

Following are the six steps of the Desktop Analysis, along with a basic description of each. Note: Performing a desktop analysis requires making some assumptions about the asset(s) to complete the process.

  1. What Do We Have?

Conduct a basic inventory of your infrastructure assets.

  1. What Is It Worth?

Estimate the value of your infrastructure by calculating what it would cost, in today’s dollars, to replace all assets. Some communities may have replacement values already calculated in their annual financial statements.

  1. What Condition Is It In?

Assign a condition to each asset based on the approximate age. If age is not available, it can be estimated.

  1. What Do We Need to Do to It?

Consider what work is needed on the asset. The RVA publication identifies the following categories:

  • Minor maintenance
  • Major maintenance
  • Rehabilitation
  • Replacement
  1. When Do We Need to Do It?

Determine how quickly the assets will deteriorate and reach the end of their service life.

  1. How Much Will It Cost?

Identify the investment required for upkeep and/or retirement of the assets.

How CMT Can Help

CMT is proud of its work assisting communities in the management of their assets. Here’s a look at how our experts can help communities get started with a Desktop Analysis:

  • Developing cost curves for infrastructure replacement
  • Categorizing assets’ condition
  • Correlating age / material type to condition
  • Identifying what is reasonable for minor and major maintenance
  • Identifying appropriate rehabilitation cost guidelines

Furthermore, for those communities looking to advance beyond a Desktop Analysis into a formalized asset management program, CMT is here to help. Our resources include the firm’s in-house asset management experts – including engineers Tim Sumner and Matt Zick – as well as our technology solution, canopy.

To learn how CMT’s experts can support clients in the management of their municipal assets, contact us at questions@cmtengr.com.

R.V. Anderson Associates, Limited. A Guide to Sustainable Asset Management for Canadian Municipalities. Toronto, Ontario, Canada. September 2002.
Water Environment Federation (WEF). Prevention and control of sewer system overflows (FD-17), third edition. Alexandria, VA. 2010.