LESAM 2017: The Apex of Asset Management for Water UtilitiesBy Boudewijn Neijens
Every second year the International Water Association organizes a Leading Edge Sustainable Asset Management (LESAM) conference. This year LESAM was hosted by the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim, which must make it the northernmost asset management conference ever.
Specialists from around the world debated best practices in asset management for water and wastewater utilities, and enjoyed true Norwegian hospitality which included both an organ concert in Trondheim’s beautiful cathedral and a particularly wet and muddy but rewarding hike up the local mountains to admire the spectacular Trondheim fjord. Only 13 hikers made it to the peak and are now officially known as the “Top LESAMers”. I’m proud to say that both Victoria Wills and I are part of this select group – although our shoes didn’t survive the ordeal and required an emergency asset replacement plan as soon as we were back in downtown Trondheim.
One of the key topics of the conference was economic modeling. Chris Royce of Anglian Water and I presented a joint paper on the development of value frameworks for water utilities, describing how the very diverse objectives and outcomes that water utilities are expected to achieve can be translated into a set of quantifiable metrics used to evaluate the merit of every potential investment or asset intervention. This quantification is of particular importance when financial or human resources are limited. It allows asset owners to make optimal decisions as to which investments to execute, and in which order, to maximize the value delivered to the utility and its stakeholders while honouring all constraints. More information on decision analytics for water utilities can be found here.
The next LESAM conference will most likely happen in Vancouver in 2019 – giving us plenty of time to work on our mountain climbing skills. We look forward to welcoming the water community to our beautiful city.