Putting the Green in Asset Management

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April 27, 2021 | David Totman

It appears to me Asset Management and Stormwater are two topics that rarely come together and yet seems like they would be such a natural fit. The ISO 55000 Asset Management Standard applies to both intangible and tangible assets, so why not natural and built? Can we apply Asset Management principles to Mother Nature? Yes, we can. Through Green Infrastructure.

I propose these Top 4 Asset Management principles can be applied to natural and built stormwater systems:

• Asset Inventory/Asset IDs
• Complex Asset Assemblies
• Risk
• Life Cycle Management/Rehabilitation methods

Asset Inventory

The asset inventory of a stormwater system can include both built and natural infrastructure. Built point structures or facilities such as inlets, outlets, detention basins, and pump stations, as well as linear assets, such as open channels, culverts, and gravity mains can adopt a familiar asset identification schema similar, to potable and sanitary sewer systems. Whether human intelligence is built into the asset naming convention or not is another philosophical and technical discussion.

So how should natural assets be named? I highly recommend using the National Hydrography Dataset (NHD) designed by the United States Geological Survey (USGS) who has already figured out the asset IDs of every major stream segment in the United States. The NHD comes in various resolutions and it is getting better every year. The benefit of using the NHD? Many environmental organizations attach water quality samples, sedimentation percentages, and other scientific observations to the NHD segment IDs known as a “Reach ID”. This gives you the inspection data necessary to assess the condition of these assets with respect to your organization’s definition of performance. For watersheds the USGS also produces the Watershed Boundary Dataset (WBS) built on the USGS Hydrologic Unit Codes (HUC).

If you are an ArcGIS user, the USGS and Esri have already loaded these datasets into the ArcGIS Online Living Atlas. Simply search for “NHD” or “WBS” and you will find multiple layers to meet your needs.

Complex Asset Assemblies

At the micro scale nothing can be more complex than natural systems, and yet at the macro scale we can apply complex asset assembly principles to natural and stormwater systems. At the core of the Innovyze InfoDrainage solution, are design principles of green and grey infrastructure working together to mitigate stormwater runoff. Whether you are designing permeable surfaces or bioswales, these systems become complex asset assemblies designed to work together as a sub-system, not independent assets.

Extending the concept of assemblies, also known as Compatible Units (CUs), InfoDrainage works within the CAD/BIM environment in Autodesk’s Civil 3D.


It goes without saying that flood is deemed as one of the highest risk factors for infrastructure damage. With Climate Change being a real force of nature, extreme rainfall events seem to more common; the 100-year flood is now commonplace. Flood prediction is a bit of art and science and practitioners seem to favor certain methods. In the US, the EPA’s Storm Water Management Model (SWMM) is commonly used. So much so, Innovyze has three (3) solutions of SWMM that will meet every user’s need. We have flavors of CAD (XPSWMM), Esri (InfoSWMM), and the global industry tested Wallingford platform (InfoWorks ICM w/SWMM):

You can check our full line of storm, sewer, and flood solutions here.

Full Life Cycle Management

Infrastructure full life cycle management is commonly portrayed as four (4) phases: 1. plan, 2. design, 3. build, and 4. operate and maintain, and yet asset owner/operator asset management principles round out the 5th phase of 5. repair, rehabilitate, or retire. Classic grey infrastructure stormwater channel improvements can include concrete resurfacing, channel widening, etc. Yet progressive cities coast to coast including Portland, Chicago, Philadelphia, and New York City are using natural materials instead of man-made materials for infrastructure improvements.


Chicago is going even further in removing concrete channels and returning to natural riverine systems. They have found that effective vegetation management helps with contaminant filtration and natural habitats restore recreational uses for quality of life. I encourage you to go to any of these city websites for more information on Green Infrastructure.

Going Green

I am sure I am leaving out additional asset management methods and green cities of interest, but the moral of the story is that YES we can apply asset management methods to include natural systems in our sustainable asset management plans for stormwater. Others are doing it and so can you.

If you have any questions about the content of this blog, feel free to contact me at david.totman@innovyze.com.

Tags: sewer and stormwater modeling, green infrastructure, asset management

About the Authors

David Totman

David Totman

VP of Asset Management


Having been a public servant for many years, David's passion for infrastructure is exemplified throughout his experience as the VP of Asset Management at Innovyze and advisory Past-President for the Utility Engineering & Surveying Institute in the ASCE. 

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