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Nationwide environmental engineering and consulting firm Brown and Caldwell and Australian utility Hunter Water have signed an exclusive agreement to jointly pursue water- and wastewater-related asset management projects throughout North America. Asset management is a comprehensive approach to utility management that is focused on improving customer service levels while reducing costs of asset ownership.
Though relatively new among North American public utilities, asset management has been practiced in the United Kingdom, New Zealand and Australia over the past 20 years. With nearly a half-million customers in New South Wales, Hunter Water has earned international recognition for its innovative approaches to asset management implementation and the results it has achieved.
Through its Business Consulting Practice, San Francisco Bay Area-based Brown and Caldwell was among the first U.S. firms to begin helping utilities apply asset management principles to their business operations.
"Since adopting asset management in 1990, we have reduced customer rates by 30 percent in real terms and costs per customer account by 40 percent," said Kevin Young, Hunter Water's manager of Corporate Planning. "The results are compelling. We have improved customer service and system performance while at the same time reduced our capital program by $220 million."
Independently, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that a typical U.S. utility can reduce overall costs by 20 percent through effective asset management practices.