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So, I am a “car guy”. I recently purchased a new sports car, the most expensive car yet in a series of many cars over my driving life. While I was impressed with the performance, quality, and purchase price,  my interest didn’t stop there. I wanted to know what is the on-going maintenance schedule and costs to assure the vehicle will last as long as possible

There are a couple of approaches you can take with a car. You can pay for your car and then drive it until it breaks, or you can put oil in it and schedule regular maintenance checks. The latter approach will cost you more in the short term but at the end of the day the car will last longer and should cost you less money.

Any organization which is responsible for infrastructure, should take serious their stewardship responsibilities for the long-term sustainability of publicly owned assets. While there is a growing awareness of the infrastructure deficit we face in North America, there continues to be a resistance and ambivalence to the subject. Asset management is a process that puts some structure and rigor around managing publicly owned infrastructure and the services it delivers. The process provides the information for local government to develop a strategy that considers realistic life-cycle projections, replacement costs, and risk analysis to allow for long term organization-wide planning.

An asset management system provides the resiliency required in order to apply informed decisions relating to major capital investment, giving consideration to stakeholder interests, economic conditions and existing asset conditions. It helps to answer, what do we want, what do we have, what do we need and when.

An AMS can be developed over time as a three-phase approach. Phase 1 would include the creation of an asset management policy and framework. These resources will provide a holistic foundation for preparing Asset Management Plans for community water, wastewater, stormwater, road, and community building and facility assets.

Phase 2 would focus on the development of the AMS strategy and financial planning to align with the long-term capital planning process of an organization. This phase would also involve scoping of an Asset Information System and the completion of the specific Asset Management Plans.

Phase 3 would involve finalizing key tools and resources for implementing the AMS over the long term. These would include an Asset Management Handbook, Asset Information System and a Community Awareness Strategy.

Having a good Asset Management System in place will help allocate resources between asset classes based on priorities defined by your community strategic plan and asset management policy. Simply it will help you determine whether a road repair is more critical over a mechanical replacement in one of the City facilities.

There are numerous resources to help an organization thru the process APWA has an Asset Management Task Force which has been researching the topic over the last year. They are researching and developing an asset management road map to provide members an easily understood method to follow in developing their asset management system.  

While the concept of know what you are buying, understanding and budgeting the long term maintenance costs; and undertaking the ongoing maintenance may seem simplistic, following these key steps whether you are owning a sports car of responsible for municipal infrastructure, assures many years of happy motoring!

Dwayne Kalynchuk

Director of Public Works & Engineering City of Victoria



Fairfax County, Va., is subject to the same stormwater problems encountered by municipalities across the nation: aging infrastructure; increasingly stringent regulations; degraded streams; litter; and limited funding.

Faced with these challenges, the county’s Department of Public Works and Environmental Services is developing a comprehensive, sustainable asset management program to effectively operate, maintain, and reinvest in its stormwater conveyance system. The new asset management program helps identify risks before failure occurs, which enables staff to prioritize maintenance and optimize reinvestment.

Prior to developing the program in the Stormwater Infrastructure Branch, service requests were generated from citizen complaints for problems such as sinkholes, blockages, flooding and erosion. “The complaints we receive give us an opportunity to assess the problems particular to stormwater,” said Branch Chief Val Tucker, P.E.

Technicians perform condition assessments through walking surveys and with pole cameras, recording findings in GIS. They’re also using CCTV cameras to obtain videos of defects within the pipes. “We find off-set joints and holes along with intrusions and unauthorized connections that must be removed,” Val said. “We see utility lines in the pipes. There are downspouts, sump pumps, and other plumbing intrusions, and there are break-ins by fence posts, guardrails, and utility poles.”

The three teams (condition assessment, closed system and open system) work together to keep stormwater flowing and to achieve water quality benefits. In addition to sediment and litter, pipe-cleaning crews find animals and tree roots in the pipes.

The county’s asset management program is achieved through:

  1. An inventory of assets (Fairfax County manages 1,300 miles of pipe, more than 62,000 storm structures, and 100 miles of improved channels and outfalls).
  2. A condition assessment of the inventory.
  3. Considering risk and prioritization: Can the operations and management investment be optimized? Is reinvestment needed, necessary or urgent?
  4. Predicting future needs and creating a funding strategy.  

As of October 2017, approximately 75 percent of the county’s pipes have been inspected and assessed. Some are in good shape, about 3 to 5 percent require attention. The remaining 25 percent are scheduled to be assessed within the next two years.

Where possible, rather than replacing pipes, staff renews them using cured-in-place pipe liner techniques, which saves time, money, and trees and disruption to adjacent properties.

Finally, using natural channel design improves water quality by reducing erosion and excess nutrients, which earns the county Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) credit toward compliance with its Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System (MS4) permit. The asset management program allows the stormwater infrastructure team to proactively identify problems before they develop into safety concerns, negatively impact residents or threaten the environment.

Irene Haske
Information Officer
Fairfax County Department of Public Works and Environmental Services