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Water utility infrastructure asset management practices, including mapping, aided by EPA and USDA

from NSPS

Recent catastrophic breaks in water mains and sewer discharges during storms are indicators of the nation's old and deteriorating water and wastewater infrastructure. EPA and USDA provide the three largest sources of federal funding for water infrastructure. A recent Government Accountability Office report found that the asset management practices used by these small utilities include identifying key assets, such as pipelines, treatment plants, and other facilities, and assessing their life-cycle costs. For example, officials from 23 of the 25 small water utilities GAO reviewed said they had maps that identify the location of at least some of their assets. The key challenges these officials identified include the availability of funding to cover start-up and maintenance costs, the availability of human resources, information on how to implement asset management practices, and political support from elected officials to begin an asset management program or increase user rates. EPA and USDA are taking steps to help water utilities implement asset management by providing funding, free or low-cost tools such as software, one-on-one technical assistance, and classroom training for small water utilities that plan to implement asset management practices. Leveraging existing data collection methods may be a cost-effective way for the agencies to collect this information. GAO recommended that EPA consider collecting information about utilities' use of asset management through its needs assessment surveys, and that EPA and USDA compile the benefits of asset management into one document. more

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