Don’t Flush Your Wastewater Investment Down the Drain
A lack of foresight isn’t cheap.
All too often as consumers, we pay close attention to current out-of-pocket costs while ignoring future expenses. Municipalities and utilities often behave similarly when considering wastewater infrastructure investments, preferring to ponder short-term capital outlays rather than evaluate factors that could dramatically impact long-term operating costs, system performance and risk.
Asset life cycle costs are comprised of more than just capital expenditures, such as engineering design, construction, regulatory permitting, easement and real estate acquisition costs. They also include operational costs for inspections, maintenance, renewals, labor, energy and other consumables.
The best way to get an accurate picture of your wastewater system’s true cost over time is to conduct an asset life cycle cost analysis. This analysis should include both capital and operational expenditures to provide a clear picture of total asset life cycle costs.
When considering total life cycle costs, it is important to determine the appropriate time period over which to conduct the evaluation. If the period is too long, you may not account accurately for changing conditions, regulations or needs; if it’s too short, the analysis may be skewed in favor of options with lower capital costs.
A properly developed and deployed asset management program/system will help align your asset life cycle activities by facilitating a better understanding of the true costs across all phases of your assets’ life cycles. You can optimize your spending by aligning all your asset planning, construction and operations activities.
Keep in mind: the overall lowest-cost wastewater system may not be the one with the lowest initial capital costs, especially if capacity expansions or other modifications, like those driven by changing regulations, will be needed in the future. True fiscal responsibility demands thinking about long-term costs.
In the world of sanitation, failing to treat wastewater correctly and reliably can result in water quality violations and massive fines. These potential costs are often passed over during planning and decision-making. It makes no sense to “save” $50,000 on equipment just to be fined $100,000 and then need to make $50,000 or more in changes to achieve regulatory compliance!
It is important to understand ALL the costs of utility management and to work with proven experts to tackle your utility’s unique challenges. A life cycle cost analysis can provide you with a clearer picture of the true costs of new water and wastewater treatment and pumping systems and help you make cost-effective choices for your facility designs.
Program Director and Project Manager Bill Sukenik has more than 40 years of experience in water and wastewater engineering, utility management and program management. Having managed two municipal wastewater utilities, Bill shares his invaluable insights on large, complex infrastructure projects and the unique challenges facing the implementation of water utility capital improvement plans.