Helping Utilities Manage Their Assets
For most water and wastewater utilities, the basic mission is to provide high-quality
service at an affordable cost; however, costs tend to rise as infrastructure ages. North
American water and wastewater utilities are funded, for the most part, by user fees in
the form of rates and charges. With rare exceptions, these rates and charges do not
recover the full, true cost of asset ownership.
As a result, drivers such as aging infrastructure, growth, shifting population patterns
and water usage, and changing regulatory requirements place increasing importance
on implementing the most cost-effective means of infrastructure and system ownership
and operations. Increasingly, the set of practices and tools applied to these problems is
characterized as “asset management.”
The Water Research Foundation has been conducting research on drinking water assets since we were formed over 40 years
ago. Recognizing the global nature of the issue of asset management, the Foundation’s research has been characterized by
collaboration and partnership. We have worked with a number of groups both nationally and internationally on this issue,
including the Water Environment Research Foundation, National Research Council of Canada, United Kingdom Water Industry
Research, Global Water Research Coalition, Water Services Association of Australia, and others.
The Foundation, seeing a need to do an updated review of asset management as it relates to drinking water infrastructure,
commissioned the Asset Management Research Needs Roadmap in 2006. To develop this Roadmap, we convened and
organized an asset management experts workshop of around 50 participants representing water and wastewater utilities,
non-governmental research organizations, international experts, professional consultants, academics, and regulators.
The workshop came up with 12 high-priority projects and 23 other ideas. The Foundation has since funded eight projects
worth $1,675,000 towards the high-priority ideas. Seven other projects relating to asset management have also been funded
in the last few years.
Much has been accomplished in researching infrastructure asset management topics, and considerable work remains to be
done. Because infrastructure asset management involves several aspects of utility operations, our research program addresses
all components of those operations, most of which are highlighted for you in this issue of Drinking Water Research.
Roy L. Wolfe, PhD
Chair, Board of Trustees
Robert C. Renner, PE, DEE
The Water Research Foundation is a member-supported, international, nonprofit organization that sponsors research to enable water utilities, public health agencies, and other professionals
to provide safe and affordable drinking water to consumers.
Editor: editor@ WaterResearchFoundation.org; Contributing editor: Adam Lang; Art director: Cheri Dougherty
Drinking Water Research (ISSN 1055-9140) is published quarterly for $40 a year in North America ($50 elsewhere) by the Water Research Foundation,
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The Water Research Foundation provides contracts for studies of problems in the water supply industry. The Foundation assumes no responsibility for the content of the research studies reported or for the opinions or statements of fact expressed by contributors in this publication. The mention of tradenames or commercial products does not represent or imply the Foundation’s approval or endorsement. Drinking Water
Research is published for general information purposes only.