Core infrastructure such as water and wastewater systems provide essential services to communities. Nevertheless, municipalities sometimes struggle to make the necessary investments to keep the physical assets in an adequate condition and operating efficiently.

The transformative tools of asset management can change the water industry by creating a new mindset for capital investments. Canadian municipalities, especially in Ontario, have understood how asset management can positively impact business and are strongly adopting this practice.

The need for direction

New asset management regulations and guidelines are constantly being released in Canada, but there is little information on how municipalities are implementing these practices. For this reason, University of Waterloo graduate student Anelisa Schmidt and her supervisor Dr. Mark Knight have developed an Asset Management Readiness survey to better understand and benchmark current water and wastewater infrastructure asset management practices in Ontario. This Master thesis research project is developed with financial support provided by the Centre for Advancement of Trenchless Technology (CATT) and the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC).

By collecting information on how municipalities are assimilating asset management practices, the goal is to provide direction and support for the development of policies and guidelines, while placing the respondents in a readiness scale.

Furthermore, CATT expects to complete the survey annually to keep track of how the readiness level is evolving over time. This information is extremely valuable to further advance infrastructure asset management and to help closing the infrastructure gap on the water and wastewater sector.

Benefits and target audience

One important step on the asset management journey is to monitor the readiness level an organization is currently in. Hence, the main benefit for survey participants is the opportunity to benchmark the organization’s Asset Management Readiness Score against the aggregated responses from water utilities of similar size. The survey is intended to be completed by asset managers in water and wastewater utilities, answering questions that were designed to be as simple and jargon-free as possible.

Bigger picture

According to the CIRC 2016, municipalities own 57% of the core public infrastructure in Canada, while provinces and territories own 41%. Information about asset management practices in Ontario will help municipalities to asses themselves and to plan their next steps, as the province’s asset management requirements are implemented, and funding allocations are determined. We must know where we are to be able to efficiently plan for the future and move forward.

We invite municipal asset management practitioners to fill out the Water and Wastewater Asset Management Readiness survey. It should take 30 minutes to 1 hour to complete it, and once all the results are analyzed, you will receive the complete report with your results benchmarked against your peers’ results.