Infrastructure R&R and Financing are Top Challenges in our Water Industry

The 2022 AWWA State of the Water Industry Report (SOTWI), and based on survey of over 1,850 agencies, ranked critical issues facing the water industry. The survey indicates the most critical issues facing our water industry are: 1) Renewal and Replacement of aging water and wastewater infrastructure, 2) Financing for capital improvements, 3) and Long-term water supply availability. Other critical issues include the aging workforce, public understanding of the value of water services, and emergency preparedness.

Renewal and Replacement (R&R) has consistently ranked as the most important challenge facing our water industry today. The 2022 SOTWI report also identifies challenges within R&R including: 1) Infrastructure reliability, 2) Financing renewal and replacements, 3) Access to funding, 4) Maintaining levels of service, 5) Justifying R&R programs to oversight bodies, 6) Justifying R&R programs to ratepayers, 7) Prioritizing R&R needs, 8) Coordinating with other R&R activities, 9) Regulatory constraints, and 10) customer expectations. Fortunately, infrastructure funding has been expanded with the passage of the 2021 U.S. infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA).

Akel Engineering Group has been effectively assisting water utilities in developing Renewal and Replacement Plans that prioritize infrastructure needs, improve infrastructure reliability, properly finance renewal and replacement, justify R&R programs to ratepayers and oversight bodies, and maintain a desired level of service at the lowest cost.

Akel use state of the art software applications, including InfoAsset Planner by Innovyze Inc., to complete condition and risk analysis.

The R&R plans include:

  • Risk Framework and Scoring

Akel establishes the risk framework, including the likelihood of failure (LoF) categories and weights, and the consequence of failure (CoF) categories and weights. When evaluating the likelihood of failure (LoF) we consider the asset age, condition assessment, failure history, design life expectations, maintenance practices, experience with that type of asset, and knowledge regarding its historical failure. When evaluating consequence of failure (CoF) we consider the probable impacts, as well as the resulting costs, from the anticipated failure.

The consequences include penalties associated with the failure (collateral damage, environmental costs, legal costs, and other damages). Both LoF and Cof are assigned rating factors between 1 and 5, with 1 meaning  low impact and 5 meaning significant impact. The Risk score is the product of the LoF multiplied by the CoF for each asset. This ranking becomes our basis for identifying highest priority assets for renewal and replacement.

  • Risk and Condition Assessment

Akel completes the risk and condition assessment using state-of-the-art software to evaluate the risk scores of each asset, including its physical condition. In the case of wastewater pipelines, it includes reviewing the CCTV and associated Pipeline Assessment coding (PACP-NASSCO). State-of-the-art software incluse Artifical Intelligence (AI) as well as machine learning.

  • 5-Year Budget Expenditures

Akel works with utilities to identify intermediate-term 5-Year funding needs and sustainable fiscal requirements.