CASE STUDIES AND VALUE OF RESEARCH
Infrastructure Decision Making:
Expanding Performance Criteria
Matt Smith, Philadelphia Water Department
The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) needs to make decisions about drinking water infrastructure for
replacement and renewal, maintaining water quality, and smart abandonment of redundant mains. PWD also wants
to coordinate drinking water, sewer, and storm water infrastructure projects to minimize construction costs. PWD is
exploring additional data and criteria to be considered for these decisions.
PWD has an established process for both facility and street-side capital planning. High priority projects are readily
identified and routine time related intervals for capital projects for facilities are scheduled in the 3–5 year horizon based
on previous experience of facility and design staff. Planning for street-side capital improvements is achieved through a
PWD developed scoring system, which feeds projects to the design branch.
Capital facilities inspection protocols were developed for condition assessment of unit processes to assist facility
managers in planning capital projects. The internally developed scoring system addresses street-side infrastructure
capital planning, but could be improved upon with the consideration of more performance criteria.
The tools were in place for planning capital expenditures for its assets; however, PWD was managing its assets instead of
“doing” asset management. The concept of asset management can be a daunting task. The Water Research Foundation
report, Asset Management Planning and Reporting Options for Water Utilities (AMPRO), (order #91095/
project #2848) was helpful because it compiled utility experiences on managing assets and added the concept of
“building blocks” for developing a program. The publication offered 3 different approaches to determining asset condition
and planning renewal and replacements. The Basic approach used traditional concepts of valuation and service life. The
High-End approach used key performance measures to assess asset condition. The Strategic approach incorporated
elements of Basic and High-End approaches plus some additional features. The High-End and Strategic approaches
screened nearly 50 performance measures, narrowing them down to 7 performance measures including:
1. service reliability-interruptions
2. service reliability-main breaks
3. water quality
4. R&R status
5. maintenance activity
6. preventive maintenance
7. age vs. service life
The participating utilities favored the Strategic approach, followed by the High-End and Basic approaches, noting that
any approach is better than nothing. The research team found that setting system-specific weights to the performance
criteria and system-specific scales in assigning value points was valuable in addressing likely decision-maker and
stakeholder interests. Data management was acknowledged to be a greater challenge for the High-End and Strategic
approach. Data presentation objectives were shown for consideration by utilities depending on the audience.
Overall, AMPRO is a valuable publication for utilities to utilize whether they are just beginning an asset management
program or have pieces in place, and offers suggestions to further the development of their program.
Matichich, M., R. Booth, J. Rogers, E. Rothstein, E. Speranza, C. Stranger, E. Wagner, and P. Gruenwald. 2005. Asset
Management Planning and Reporting Options for Water Utilities, order #91095/project #2848. Denver, CO:
Awwa Research Foundation.