Infrastructure Asset Management


This topic addresses the mid or long term infrastructural sustainability of the urban water services. Infrastructural assets are expensive and have long durations: their annual depreciation (and therefore the annual average need for capital maintenance), representing around 1/3 of operational costs, and be fully operative for 4-10 decades. Pipes, mostly buried, typically represent 70-80% of the total asset value and are responsible for high fixed costs in the production function. Societies and elected politician are not prepared to allocate sufficient funds to ensure infrastructural sustainability – there is a need for conjoint financing modes reflecting the values for beneficiaries. At the same time, existing water systems need to evolve in order to cope with current and coming challenges and drivers, such as climate change, circular economy, need for a much more efficient use of resources, among others. Most countries, in Europe and worldwide, are not addressing this issue in an acceptable way. The scope of this topic is to enhance the existing IAM approaches, both in terms of creating new knowledge and of incorporating leading edge practices as well as innovative and applicable financing models in the utilities.

Opportunities and challenges

  • Increased awareness for the need and benefits of AM integrating performance, risk and cost dimensions
  • International recognition through ISO 55000/1/2 standards as drivers for asset management focused on value, alignment, leadership and assurance
  • Greater need of public reporting on the utility service according to a structured assessment system
  • Insufficient current condition/state of infrastructural assets
  • Insufficient condition measurement and assessment techniques
  • Increased alertness for the need of systems adaptation to climate and demographic change
  • Increased awareness for the need of resilience increase in urban areas being the urban water systems as fundamental sector
  • Need for increased change management in the water industry facing cultural, people and system/technology dynamics
  • Economic and financial restriction context requiring prioritising and planning asset investment and cost allocation
  • Leading edge practices and technology and organisational developments

Research and innovation demand

  • Developing innovative monitoring, assessment and control solutions, understanding their potential and developing new approaches so they can be embedded in existing systems to efficiently support IAM
  • Developing a structured approach for data ascertainment, analysis and integration to enhance knowledge to support effective, efficient and sustainable IAM decisions
  • Integrating leading edge practices and technological tools in the IAM planning process
  • Planning change processes adaptation (climate, demographic, technology) through IAM
  • New approach to address resilience planning in urban areas focusing in urban water systems
  • New approach to address and incorporate human resources planning in IAM
  • Transformation of IAM in capital and operating expenditures and resulting impact on water tariffs
  • Development and expansion of IAM methodology to other assets within the urban water system such as pumping stations, submarine outfalls, WTP/WWTP and storage units
  • Capacity building in the water sector, enabling utilities to implement and develop IAM