How does your water utility manage its assets? With aging infrastructure and limited funds for rehabilitation and replacement, the question is more important every day. In this month’s issue of Municipal Water Leader, we profile some of the water utilities and service providers that are forging new paths in asset management. 

In our cover interview, Chris Kahn of American Water introduces us to the high-tech world of asset management using unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones. American Water’s drones give it eyes in the sky that it can use to examine elevated and difficult-to-reach assets, but they can also be equipped with thermal and multispectral sensors and even ground-penetrating radar, providing an invaluable addition to the utility’s asset management arsenal. 

We also speak with three large asset management service providers, each of which brings a distinct focus to its work. Allan Scott and Trent Stober tell us about HDR’s utility management services and its data-driven water main renewal and replacement analysis. Will Williams of Black & Veatch, meanwhile, tells us about how his company carries out gap analyses and assessments to help agencies measure risk; collect and use data; and boost their efficiency, flexibility, and resilience. And Jonathan Cato of SUEZ traces the roots of his company’s subscription-based asset management services back to its tank maintenance work and explains how they can reduce an agency’s risk and uncertainty. 

The Town of Cary, North Carolina, recently developed a buried asset management plan. Dave Hallgren, the town’s utility manager, explains the motivations behind the exercise and what the town will do as a result. 

Everyone knows a pressurized pipe is an asset—but what about a stream? To answer that intriguing question, we speak with Roy Brooke of the Municipal Natural Assets Initiative, a nonprofit that is encouraging municipalities to recognize and value the services provided by natural assets like wetlands and streams. 

We also check in with a few companies that are making the life easier for water providers. Watson Engineering helped Southern Utah University install a new filter system that dramatically reduces maintenance needs. And Hamish Howard tells us about how Assura Software’s workflow program can be configured to handle a municipal water district’s asset management needs. 

Finally, we hear from Robert Lynch about what a potential ruling on the definition of the Waters of the United States will mean on the state level. 

Asset management is a topic every water agency and utility needs to carefully consider. I hope that the articles in this issue of Municipal Water Leader provide a good overview of the possible solutions every municipal water district can choose from. 

Kris Polly is editor-in-chief of Municipal Water Leader and Irrigation Leader magazines. He is also president of Water Strategies LLC, a government relations, marketing, and publishing company he began in February 2009 for the purpose of representing and guiding water, power, and agricultural entities in their dealings with Congress, the Bureau of Reclamation, and other federal government agencies. He may be contacted at