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Portland Water Bureau

From forest to faucet, we deliver the best drinking water in the world.


1120 SW Fifth Ave, Suite 600, Portland, OR 97204

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Asset Management

  • Condition Assessments Asset management staff conduct condition assessments on critical pipes.

  • Investigating Failures Asset managers document pipe failures to better understand causes and recommend mitigation strategies.

  • Asset Strategies Asset Management Plans recommend strategies for asset maintenance and replacement.

Portland’s water system is a network of reservoirs, pipes, pumps, tanks, valves, meters, and other equipment—each of these assets has its own life span and way of wearing out or failing.
Asset management combines engineering, economics, and business to identify the most cost-effective and efficient way to manage assets, through maintenance, repair, and replacement actions.

 The two main elements of asset management include risk and service levels.

  • Risk—At what point must the bureau intervene to reduce either the likelihood an asset will fail or the consequences of failure?

  • Service Levels—What are the primary goals for the services the bureau should deliver to its customers?

The tools of asset management include economic analyses—such as calculating the benefit-cost ratios of actions and the net present value of assets—combined with engineering studies to determine asset status and condition. Benefits and costs are calculated in social, environmental, and financial terms—a practice called triple bottom-line accounting. 

Since 2005, the Portland Water Bureau has used asset management practices to improve the way we care for the infrastructure that delivers water to our customers. In 2007, the bureau’s management team drafted and signed an Asset Management Charter that set the direction for asset management and the way we do business. 

Since that time, the bureau has been recognized as a leader in the national and international water industry. The Water Bureau’s asset management approach has been profiled as a best practice in McGraw Hill’s Construction SmartMarket Report, the Water Environment Federation’s Water Environment and Technology magazine, and in the Water Research Foundation’s Drinking Water Research magazine. An international leader in asset-management benchmarking, the International Water Association/Water Services Association of Australia, regards the Portland Water Bureau as a leader in three key strategic areas:

  • Developing asset management plans with strategic recommendations

  • Using business case tools to justify and validate decisions to invest in infrastructure

  • Advancing asset management practices through early adoption of asset management plans, participating in research, and developing asset management methodologies

The bureau’s Asset Management Lead, Jeff Leighton, has been elected as the  chair of the American Water Works Association Asset Management National Committee and has been recognized many times for his contribution to asset management in the water industry. 

A timeline of the PWB’s asset management activities since 2004 describes the bureau’s progress and accomplishments to-date. 

The Asset Management Planning Overview provides a more detailed account of the bureau’s Asset Management Program since its inception and provides examples of how the bureau has used asset management tools and principles to guide our decisions about investing in assets.