Maintaining Sustainable Water Services: Embedding infrastructure asset management in a medium Norwegian water utility - a demo case study approach
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The urban water infrastructure assets embodies a large portion of the total value of all public infrastructures, and is fundamental for good living conditions. The replacement value of the infrastructure in Norway alone is more than 500 billion Norwegian kroner. An aging infrastructure combined with shifting external conditions has resulted in a change from mainly investing in new infrastructure to manage and rehabilitate existing assets. With strong indications that the water utilities are facing challenges when it comes to their water infrastructure, the focus on asset management (AM) is growing. AM in the water sector can be described as managing infrastructure capital assets to minimize the total cost of owning and operating them, while also delivering a satisfactory service level for the customers.Experienced experts and researchers argue that a good, integrated and strategic AM approach is essential for the maintenance of sustainable water supply and wastewater services. There exist several research initiatives to improve the AM for water utilities. However, the use of integrated or strategic AM approaches and use of tools and models does not seem to have spread in the expected degree, particularly not to small or medium sized water utilities or companies. In order to contribute to the knowledge of key conditions for successful dissemination of infrastructure asset management (IAM) approaches to smaller and medium sized water providers, this thesis will look at embedding IAM in a medium water utility by testing one of the latest and well acknowledged IAM research initiatives, the AWARE-P project, in a demo case study.This implies operationalizing the AWARE-P concept with the use of a carefully defined set of hallmarks, explore and understand the actual situation in the demo case water utility by reviewing planning documents and meeting with key personnel, describe and recognize why there is a gap between actual practise and the recommended AM approach advocated by AWARE-P, to understand why the utility decides to do what they do today, and then finally use this knowledge to test the implementation of key elements in the recommended AM approach. This is done to find: a) what type of problems are we facing with implementation, b) what type of benefits can this implementation give a water utility and c) understand the kind of characteristics or qualities that need to be present in AM methodology and tools in order for successful implementation and use. This is done at two stages, an applied analysis to test key elements at the tactical level and a simulated process for testing at the strategic level.The closing chapter focuses on the lessons learned from the demo case study approach and discuss ways forward to enable better implementation and more wide spread use of high quality integrated IAM approaches in small to medium sized Norwegian water utilities. This includes approaches to lowering the threshold for use, e.g. compensating for missing data, and a demonstration of a decision theatre approach that can support a water utility in their planning process and thus motivate for improved use of analytical tools, decision support systems and at large achieve a more structured and comprehensive IAM practise.