Asset Management at CSD-1: Just Doing It

Sacramento County Sanitation District 1 (CSD-1) manages a large wastewater collection system in northern California. District managers saw asset management concepts as a promising tool to improve performance while minimizing rate increases. Some staff and governing board members visited Australia and New Zealand in 2004 to see asset management principles in action. They learned that asset management is practiced differently at each agency but consists of an underlying set of principles and practices rather than a discrete program or project.

Following this visit, the management of CSD-1, with support from its Board decided to implement asset management concepts as quickly as possible. Assistance from experienced practitioners at Hunter Water Australia was sought to speed up the process and remove any roadblocks along the way. This paper covers the story of what has occurred and what has been learned along the way.

CSD-1 adopted a learn-by-doing approach which is termed “action management”. It is an upward spiral of actions where staff learns about asset management principles as they implement them and then work to continuously improve their understanding. In other words, you start with the more straightforward tasks and then work toward the more complex tasks.

The first step was to “clear the decks” so a focus could be put on asset management. Next, service levels were developed followed by performance measures for each section in organization. Key staff was then trained in business case evaluation techniques so that there was a sound process for justifying expenditure. Risk-based decision making was introduced for specific asset types. First, a critical sewer strategy was developed making extensive use of the County’s geographic information system. Work started on improving general sewer monitoring and maintenance. Risk-based strategies for pumping stations were also developed. More recently the organization was restructured to separate the “specifiers” from the “doers”.

Significant progress has been made in a short time with training staff, shifting the organizational culture to be customer focused and reducing costs. The action management approach means staff are engaged and energized to continue on implementing the next level of improvements.


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