Water utilities are extremely capital-intensive, yet this distinction only reflects their built assets–primarily their inventory of water mains, transmission lines, and treatment plants. At the same time, many essential inputs to the goods and services that water utilities deliver to their customers are provided by nature–namely the water itself, as well as the forested and other watersheds, aquifer systems, and other natural assets that convey, store, and protect the quality of source waters, and deliver other valuable water supply services.
Sustainability and efficiency require that water utilities prudently manage all of their critical assets–including natural capital, as well as built infrastructure and the utility’s human capital. This project aims to strengthen water utilities’ capacity to account for, invest in, and better manage their natural assets, by:
- Enhancing recognition, quantification, and valuation of the important goods and services provided by forested and other natural assets
- Developing a framework for including forests and other natural assets within water utility asset management (AM) programs
- Recognizing and addressing the numerous barriers and challenges to placing natural assets on equal footing with built infrastructure within water utility planning and AM programs.