Industry Trends

Ohio Senate Bill Mandates Asset Management for all Water Systems

By: George Sendrey, P.E., Project Manager, Water Resources

Did you know the state of Ohio has enacted new legislation mandating each water system that serves the public be required to have an asset management plan in place by October 1, 2018? Is your community ready for this?

The plan will require all water systems to demonstrate the managerial, technical, and financial capability to operate a water system.

What does this mean for your community? First, the asset management plan is not something to be afraid of! Second, you don’t want to be deemed non-compliant come October 2018. Third, without knowing it, you probably have a lot of the requirements already in place, at least in some form. Finally, there are many benefits to an asset management plan for the user beyond making sure you’re in compliance. With an effective plan in place, you’ll be able to use your dollars more effectively and conquer preventive maintenance before critical assets fail.

The Ohio EPA has laid out a fact sheet to be used as a guidebook for compliance. It can appear to be a little overwhelming, so the time to start prepping for this mandate is now! Here are critical, required elements to be compliant:

  1. Inventory of assets. Each asset will be required to be mapped and included in the inventory. But, the depth and the detail of the inventory can be determined by each water system. At a minimum it is recommended that information regarding status, location and age should be collected for each asset, whether in the field, as a part of your water source, at your storage facilities or within your treatment facility or facilities.
  2. Evaluation of assets. Each asset on the inventory would undergo a condition assessment. The assessment is used to help determine when the asset may need to be maintained, repaired or needs to be replaced as it has reached the end of its useful life.
  3. Level of service. From a list of suggested topics, water systems will be required to identify, establish, and measure (track) at least three levels of service goals
  4. Metrics.  Pre-determined by the state, metrics are measures to be tracked and reported annually by the water system. The required metrics will differ by type of public water system. Some examples of these metrics include: operating budget or ratio; non-revenue water; repair, rehabilitation or replacement tasks per year; breaks per mile of distribution and summary of completed capital improvement projects.
  5. Operation and maintenance programs. Written programs that include testing and maintenance procedures, protocols and schedules that are written in enough detail that an operator unfamiliar with the system would be able to properly operate the facility.

The asset management plan is a set of procedures, protocols and guidelines backed up by a capital improvement plan and an inventory of the system assets that are used daily and updated continually. For the most part, most public water systems have the required information, but it’s possibly not written down, it’s not viewed as part of an asset management plan or it’s not organized together in one location for ease of access by staff.

There are several critical components to any asset management plan including:

  1. A complete inventory of all pipes, valves, pumps, hydrants, etc. in the system
  2. The determination of a “critical and likelihood of failure matrix” with each asset included in the matrix
  3. Finally, a capital improvement plan is drafted to manage, update, repair and replace those assets

If you refer to the potential requirements listed on the Division of Drinking and Groundwaters, you will likely identify requirements that you already have in place – at least in some form. Now the task is to organize the information in a way that can reinforce compliance.

Mentioned earlier, the “critical and likelihood of failure matrix” is an invaluable tool to determine where your available capital dollars should most efficiently be spent. The matrix provides you a scientific and rational way to systematically determine when to replace those most critical assets that have, or will, reach the end of their useful life.

In addition, the “critical and likelihood of failure matrix” is a visual tool that non-technical people such as your customers and/or elected officials can easily grasp and understand. It will allow for a logical and rational explanation using charts and graphs that convey the message of the order for waterline replacement, the need to replace equipment or why a rate increase is needed.

In my opinion, an asset management plan is more of a mindset than a written plan. Of course, you need to document your procedures, list your processes, and formalize your protocols, but at the end of the day, the goal is to keep producing great drinking water while limiting your operations and maintenance problems. An asset management plan can help, and we can help your public water system organize and write it down for compliance. Do you feel a little better, now? Let us know if you have any questions or want to discuss the requirements in more detail.

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