About AWI - Our Nation's Aging Water Infrastructure Dilemma

  


When it comes to aging water infrastructure, the age-old adage of "if it is not broke, don't fix it" no longer holds true. So far, our inclination to leave well enough alone (often an excuse for shoving seemingly insurmountable issues under the rug) has far from served us well.

One look at the various hot spots all over the US is all it takes to grasp the gravity of this trillion dollar issue. Cities across the nation are starting to experience the effects of water service loss and sewer overflow events. It may not be completely broken yet, but our aging water, wastewater and storm drainage infrastructure certainly needs our attention. Now.

Poorly managed aging water infrastructure results in:

  • Water main breaks that require expensive repairs
  • Corrosion issues that ultimately lead to pipe failure
  • Poor water quality, putting all of us at risk


The Wet Infrastructure Resource Solution Center
This website was created to offer visitors a “big picture” perspective regarding aging water infrastructure (AWI).
Right now, the water industry is dangerously segmented, with engineering in one corner, politics in the other and financing somewhere in between.


My hope is that my personal website's articles and resource center will bring these isolated elements together and allow us come one step closer to making sustainable and affordable water infrastructure a reality.

I encourage you to use this resource center to:

  • Be Proactive and share research and provide solutions
  • Consider the big picture surrounding aging water infrastructure 
  • Bridge gaps within the water industry (Politics-Engineering-Operations-Maintenance-Finance)
  • Learn about and implement best practices to become a more cost effective utility 
  • Strike a balance between sustainability and affordability

Adopting a Proactive Approach
Historically, we’ve relied on a reactive approach for managing our water infrastructure. When something breaks, we fix it. What we need to implement is a proactive mentality–we need to stop letting things break, or at least not as quickly as they have been.

If we apply a proactive approach to asset management, by repairing a utility before it has a chance to fail, we stretch out the life of our water infrastructure, improving the environment and, ultimately, saving resources and money.

Resource Allocation & Risk Management
The key to proactive asset management is knowing when to address any particular issue. If we replace an asset too early, we’ve wasted money. On the other hand, if we replace an asset too late, we end up spending too much. What we need to aim for is a balance between sustainability and affordability—stretching out the life of our assets and understanding where and when it’s possible to save money.

For more information about our nation's AWI dilemma or to learn about my writing and research, please feel free to contact me.


Gregory M Baird


 

Best Practices

Implement Best Practices for Sustainable & Affordable Water Services

Every utility is at some point of change and advancement. As a utility proactively engages in industry best practices, additional cost efficiencies will accrue to the bottom line leading to a more effective, sustainable and affordable water service organization.

  1. Focus on Transmission and Distribution Repair and Replacement (60% of total costs)
  2. Invest in an (ESRI) GIS-Centric Approach for the Asset Registry, CMMS and Decision Analytics Software
  3. Apply Hydraulic Model Optimization Technologies into Operations and Capital Planning
  4. Evaluate Valve and Pipe Criticality to prioritize investments while reducing Risk
  5. Maintain a high degree of Point Control Valve Operability
  6. Conduct Cyclical Asset Condition Assessments
  7. Annualize Water Loss Reporting and Water Audits
  8. Establish Asset Monitoring and Preventative Maintenance Programs
  9. Pursue Open Procurement Practices and Policies
  10. Utilize Alternative Project Delivery Methods like Design Build
  11. Employ Trenchless Technologies like Sliplining, Pipe Bursting, Horizontal Directional Drilling
  12. Replace older pipe materials with durable, safe, corrosion free materials like PVC
  13. Provide for Fixed-Asset Accounting adjustments based on updated asset inventory and valuations
  14. Incorporate Long-Term Infrastructure Financial Planning to develop rate, debt, reserve financing strategies.


 

About the Author


Gregory M Baird, creator of the Wet Infrastructure Resource Solution Center, is an expert in infrastructure asset management and finance. Greg is an experienced municipal utility finance  professional having served in California and Colorado.

Greg is a critical resource for general managers, engineering managers and finance directors seeking consulting services—including confidential reviews and support concerning asset management and related financial issues. His efforts are focused on identifying and educating innovative ways to  balance risk with cost and sustainability with affordability.

Greg is the Water Asset Management committee chair for The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) UESI Asset Management and the Underground Technology committee chair and Asset Management committee liaison with American Public Works Association (APWA). 


Greg currently is a member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and is the chair of the Sustainable Infrastructure committee and a member of the Asset Management and Rates and Charges Committee and Conservation/Affordability Subcommittee.  He is the founding author of the Money Matters column in the AWWA Journal researching and reporting on the financial issues of the water, wastewater, and storm drain industry.


Greg also contributes to the ISO TC251 committee developing the ISO standard 55010 on the integration of Finance and Asset Management.


He was the adviser for several years to the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) Economic Development and Capital Planning Committee for the US and Canada. Greg is the founder and lead of the GFOA Utility Finance Forum developed to meet the training and educational sharing needs of finance officers over utility services including training in infrastructure asset management practices. 

Greg also served as the Chair of Affordability for Win-Colorado, a coalition focused on addressing the infrastructure funding gap for the state.

Beyond research, writing and presentations, 


Greg coherently works as an independent executive management consultant.

  • Finance Department Management
  • RFP/RFQ Support
  • Project Management/System Implementations
  • Confidential Financial Reviews
  • Regionalization and Consolidations
  • Affordability Assessments
  • Public Outreach

Utility Financial Consulting

  • Capital Project Planning
  • Capital Project Finance and Auditing
  • Rate and Fee Studies
  • Rate Design and Implementation
  • Bond Due Diligence
  • Debt Issuance Support
  • Credit Agency Relations/Presentations
  • Financial Modeling/Financial Plans

Asset Management
 

  • Comprehensive Asset Management Programs and Planning
  • CMMS/Business Process Reviews
  • Asset Registry/Hierarchy Development
  • Asset Valuation
  • Capital Asset Accounting: Fixed Asset Database Synchronization
  • Asset Management Plan –Funding Plans
  • Rate and Fee Justification
  • Costs Savings Projections and Tracking
  • Service Level Risks and Costs Tied to Rate Discussions

Industry Research and Business Development


These services are provided either directly or with a service partner.

Gregory M Baird focuses on strategies for constructing a united front out of the now largely disparate facets of the water industry. By bringing together the decision makers like elected officers, city management, engineering and finance, he works to meet the complex needs of water and sewer capacity, current operational requirements and aging water infrastructure repair and replacement.

Greg has researched and published extensively nationally and internationally on the practical application of asset management practices and financial principles. 

Once we have a good grasp of the issues and the condition of our critical infrastructure assets, we can start making better decisions on how to address the problem. -Best regards- Greg

 
My LinkedIn Profile:

linkedin.com/in/gregory-m-baird-9kplus-372b6954