An asset inventory is a list of items of value owned by the water system, with information about each item (such as life expectancy, manufacturer information, service record, etc). This inventory increases your knowledge and understanding of the system and gives you specific information to make better financial decisions. It will also help you schedule repairs and replacements to ensure that you are getting the greatest value possible from your assets. If you do not know what you have, you cannot manage it effectively.
You will need a clear and current plan of your water system. If you don’t have a plan, you will need to create one. First, collect information on all the components of your system from all available sources; from your water source, treatment system, reservoir/storage, distribution system, etc. Keep this information in one place to allow easy access to the data. This will ensure you have the data handy when you prepare your asset management plan or when you communicate with stakeholders (during meetings or when you prepare your annual report).
Look for information on your system in: as-built plans, well logs, maintenance logs, land surveys, manuals and receipts, construction permits, risk assessment reports, annual reports, and the Water, Data & Tools web site of the BC government.
Next you should create a schematic drawing of your water system that consists of (at a minimum): the water source, the treatment system, and the distribution system components. The schematic will help you list your assets.
When you are listing the assets, also collect and record the following information for each:
- Installation/Construction Date
- Service History
- History of Breaks and Malfunctions
- Useful Life
Detailed information may include the manufacturer’s name, the item’s model and serial number and the original cost.
The figure below is an example of a schematic for a small water system. Of course, each system is different.
Source: Sustainable Infrastructure Society
Find information about the expected life of your water system’s components by researching the typical life expectancy of your particular components. You can consult manufacturers, or search the web for user reports.
Knowing when to repair, rehabilitate or replace an asset will help you get the most value from your assets. At some point, continuing to repair the asset will no longer be cost-effective and you will need to rehabilitate or replace it. To prepare and budget for replacements, you will need to calculate the remaining service life of each asset with reference to the step above.
There is some flexibility in the way you define an “asset”. Some of your water system’s “assets” may consist of a single component, such as a pump. Other “assets” may result from the combination of several components that together make an “asset”, such as a pumping station, which includes pumps, pipework valves and other components. You might consider grouping components of similar life expectancy as one “asset”, for example, group curb stop valves and corporation stop valves together as one asset.
Several factors can affect an asset’s service life: the quality of routine servicing and maintenance, excessive use and environmental conditions (such as poor source water quality, soil quality, or climate). Use your local knowledge, combined with the manufacturer’s recommendations, to calculate the remaining service life. Assets that are in poor condition, not regularly maintained, or subject to excessive use or soil quality issues will be at the lower end of the expected useful service life range.
Once you have an up-to-date inventory of assets, it is a good idea to record details of the people and companies who service the assets and who can supply replacements or upgrades (we recommend using the Operator’s Hub of this website, or the Canadian Water Directory). Store this information with your inventory records to save time in the future. You can consult them when you have questions or concerns about individual assets. This information can also be used to help explain repair and replacement costs to water users when developing a budget or proposing a rate increase.
Asset Inventory Worksheet by the Sustainable Infrastructure Society
Asset Management Worksheet by the Sustainable Infrastructure Society
Financial Best Management Practices Guide by the Sustainable Infrastructure Society
The Canadian Water Directory also provides longer documents outlining the steps needed to create a basic asset inventory and an asset management plan, if you are looking for a more detailed approach.
Water, Data & Tools by the BC government
The steps and ideas outlined above have been presented with permission from, and thanks to, The Canadian Water Directory, which is operated by the Sustainable Infrastructure Society. © 2005-2022 Visit the Sustainable Infrastructure Society at https://waterbc.ca/