Infrastructure Asset Management practices are well-recognized in Canada for enabling municipalities to make strategic investment decisions. The Province of Ontario has required municipalities to develop asset management plans in order to receive Provincial funding. This has resulted in over 90 percent of municipalities to have council approved asset management plans. In addition, the Municipal Asset Management Program is a $50 million capacity-building fund entrusted to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) by Infrastructure Canada (INFC) to enable the adoption and improvement of asset management practices across Canada’s municipal sector.
Water utilities in particular strive to keep pipelines, pumping stations and treatment plants in sound condition and capable of delivering the targeted Levels of Service, all of this without burdening users with excessive fees. Readiness or maturity assessments are commonly used by organizations to identify how advanced they are regarding the adoption of the asset management framework. However, even when municipalities choose to perform a readiness assessment, the results are not shared with the industry. As a consequence, there is little information concerning water utilities asset management processes implementation.
Bridging the Information Gap
The Centre for Advancement of Trenchless Technologies (CATT) with support from the Southern Ontario Water Consortium (SOWC), has developed a straightforward web-based survey to understand the implementation of asset management processes and practices in Ontario municipal water utilities.
FCM’s Readiness Scale, ISO 55000 series and Ontario Regulation 588/17 were adapted and used as a framework for questions. Respondents were classified into four Readiness Levels (RLs), from 0 to 3, in five competency areas: (1) policy and governance; (2) people and leadership; (3) data and information; (4) planning and decision-making; and (5) contribution to asset management practice. Survey respondents consisted of 31 municipalities representing 50.6% of Ontario’s total population.
Readiness Assessment Report
Results of the 2018 survey are presented in the recently released Water and Wastewater Asset Management Readiness Assessment report available here.
This report provides a baseline for municipal water utilities readiness levels in Ontario. The main outcome is a readiness snapshot that is comparable between municipalities of different backgrounds and in time. Additionally, the study investigates the use of Asset Management Plans as sources of information in evidence-based decision-making, compliance with Ontario Regulation 588/17, identified funding gaps and asset management perceived value.
The results indicate that small and medium municipal water utilities are moving towards RL 1 – Learning, while large municipalities are approaching or have already reached RL 1 and are moving towards RL 2 – Developing. If water utilities want to achieve RL 3, there is still much work to be done regarding formalizing and communicating asset management key documents and information. In general, municipalities are steadily advancing on implementing asset management processes, contributing to the development of stronger and efficient municipal water utilities.