Our nation's population centers are being plagued with sink holes and water boiling notices as our underground water and wastewater pipe networks fail. Three eras of pipe materials (1800's-1920's and Post-WWII) require
At WFRF we want to create a networking website to help educate and to offer visitors a “big picture” perspective regarding aging water and wastewater infrastructure (AWI). Our hope is that the AWI resource center will bring together engineers-operators-maintenance-finance-IT-utility management-elected officials-citizens and allow us to come one step closer to making sustainable and affordable water services a reality.
The Water Finance Research Foundation (WFRF), at waterfinancerf.org, represents a network of volunteer water and utility finance professionals who are dedicated to finding affordable and sustainable solutions to address the aging water infrastructure crisis.
The WFRF’s early beginnings started in 2010 as a group municipal finance officers from Colorado and California started discussing the need for better data on cost drivers in order to improve and justify resource allocations through the operating and capital budgeting process. These discussions lead to the development of the Money Matters column in the American Water Works Association (AWWA) Journal providing a forum for water finance professionals to research and publish articles on the financial benefits of asset management for utilities. Also, to further the discussions and education on utility financial management, the group formed a Utility Finance Forum (UFF) within the Government Finance Officers Association (GFOA) increasing its numbers to over 130 finance professionals with water and wastewater financial responsibilities. GFOA provided annual conference space and support to help address the specific needs and issues of utility finance professionals as well as providing training on infrastructure asset management as part of the budgeting process.
Formally, the WFRF was developed as a Utah non-profit and then later as a federal private foundation non-profit, in order to better explore options for seeking grants, donations and the development of subscription services to fund the growing list of proposed initiatives and research projects which would benefit utility financial managers. During this development process of refining the organization’s charter, leadership, advisors and members, AWWA reached out with concerns of the WFRF having duplicate research efforts and pursing similar grant and funding resources. The WFRF and its advisors determined that it would not compete but support AWWA and WERF efforts to increase funding of water related projects by increasing the awareness of the aging water infrastructure crisis and through research and extensive surveys (conducted by its professional volunteer network and next generation members) and identity and promote concepts, processes, technology, and software which would improve the collection and use of data to better allocate the limited resources of utilities.
As the articles and presentations continued to be key sources of education at GFOA and AWWA with a focus on the US market, a great deal of inspiration came from the National Research Council of Canada and contacts from the Canadian Network of Asset Managers (CNAM) which was formed by and for municipalities. A change to the organization’s focus and structure was proposed by some of the advisors to have the WFRF evolve into the American Public Asset Management Association (APAMA). This influence lead to key WFRF surveys and reporting efforts including supporting newer US studies on water infrastructure condition assessment, main break data and available GIS based asset management software for decision makers. As a result, the WFRF network collectively supports many university efforts such as water main break research from the Utah State University, the development of national water asset repositories (WaterID and PipeID) with Virginia Tech, and trenchless and condition assessment technologies with Louisiana Tech. These efforts have also expanded with other universities, the USEPA and the International Standards Organization (ISO) in developing asset management training materials which include the integration of funding and financial decision making.
While a new organizational structure was developed following a new municipal model supporting various infrastructure asset inventories with new leadership, directors and website - a group decision was made to delay any changes and support and monitor the development of asset management task forces and asset management committees within AWWA, the American Public Works Association (APWA) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) without increasing costs for the WFRF network. The WFRF structure has not changed, but the ideals and efforts continue through the WFRF professional network coordinating and supporting water asset management and water finance conferences, workshops, seminars and webinars to promote water affordability and collaboration in North America.
renewal or replacement over the next decade due to age and corrosion. It will not all fail at once, but it can not all be replaced at once either. Infrastructure asset management helps match the right timing to the available funding strategies.
Our Water and Wastewater rates may need to increase to pay for the renewal and replacement of our aging and corroding infrastructure - however, we must implement asset management best practices in order to ensure that we manage our infrastructure at the lowest cost and at an acceptable level of service.
DEVELOP INTEGRATED ASSET MANAGEMENT PLANS
Asset Management Plans define current levels of service and the processes local governments use to manage each of their asset classes.
Plans should be developed for all major asset classes, including, but not limited to: roads, buildings, drainage, paths and parks infrastructure.
What is included in an Asset Management Plan?
Focused on real progress in managing aging water infrastructure across the U.S., WFRF is committed to finding effective best practices to implement.
The Water Finance Research Foundation conducts research through surveys and case studies. WFRF also encourages municipalities and utilities to