Written by: Brian Bohnsack, Program Manager, Environmental Finance Center at Wichita State University; and Michelle DeHaven, Program Manager, Environmental Finance Center at Wichita State University

Do you want to leave a legacy that will benefit your community for decades to come? For most of us, the answer is, “Yes!” And, like most of us, you may not have an idea on how you are going to do that. If you are stumped, here is a possibility. Use the Small Community Assistance Planning Asset Management Tool (SCAP) to develop a basic asset management plan for your community’s drinking water or wastewater utility. The SCAP tool is a free, easy to use Excel-based asset management program developed by Eastern Research Group (ERG) through funding provided by EPA. With the SCAP tool and a few hours of your time, you can leave your community a legacy that it can build from for decades to come.

A basic asset management plan can be useful for many aspects of operating and maintaining wastewater systems to ensure your community’s system operates effectively and efficiently. Many systems have benefitted from the knowledge and experience of their long-time operators who know their systems very well . Many of these operators are nearing retirement or have already retired. If that knowledge is not passed on to the next generation of operators, then your utility’s track record of dependable drinking water and wastewater services could be at risk. Developing an asset inventory and system of updating the inventory can assist your utility with ensuring that vital information is readily available to all staff at any time. The SCAP tool is useful for collecting the knowledge of your system’s senior operators and getting it written down. Or, if your long-time operator has already retired, it is a great way to start gathering the information needed to avoid system failures.


SCAP Tool Overview

The purpose of the SCAP tool is to facilitate the tracking and basic assessment of wastewater assets. There is another SCAP tool available for drinking water systems. The tool includes the following asset management components:

  1. Asset Inventory
  2. Condition Assessment
  3. Vulnerability Assessment
  4. Critical Assets

The program relies on data specific to your utility and basic knowledge of the infrastructure’s condition. The data can be as simple or as detailed as you want. If you are just beginning to develop an asset inventory, putting simple details is a way to start. If you are updating an existing asset inventory, developing more complex details might be the next step for your asset management planning.

Note that there are separate SCAP tools for drinking water and wastewater utilities.


Collect as much information on your plant’s major equipment as possible before starting data input. For example, the purchase date, manufacturer, model number and maintenance records, if any, should be collected ahead of time. If this information is not readily available, input as much information as known about the equipment. The SCAP data input screens will walk you through all of the required information for the system to assess and rank an equipment’s importance to a plant’s operation.

The EFC at Wichita State University tested SCAP and its limitations at the El Dorado, Kansas drinking water and wastewater plants. We spent a day at both their water and wastewater treatment facilities to help them become familiar with the SCAP tool and to capture information on their systems. These systems’ capacities are 8 million gallons of drinking water and 6 million gallons of wastewater daily. WSU researchers wondered if these plants were on the large size for SCAP in terms of their size and complexity. We found that this was not the case at all! The SCAP tool’s analysis of these plants’ infrastructure and capital improvement priorities were in line with the expectations of the plants’ senior operators. In fact, the SCAP results were consistent with the equipment replacement already scheduled for the plants.


Top 5 Tips for Using the SCAP Tool

We found the SCAP tool easy to use and encourage you to use it with your drinking water or wastewater system. Here are our Top 5 tips for using the SCAP tool:

  1. Make sure you have the correct SCAP tool for your system. There are separate versions of the SCAP tool for the drinking water and wastewater systems. The wastewater SCAP tool has categories that are specific to wastewater utilities; therefore, your asset inventory will be easy to input.
  2. Gather as much information on your system’s equipment as possible beforehand. This will make it easier for the data input regarding the equipment manufacturer, installation date, useful life, etc. If you have different contacts for parts suppliers for different pieces of equipment, go ahead and collect that as well and input it into the SCAP tool.
  3. Trust you and your staff’s assessment of the equipment. Things break unexpectedly for a wide range of reasons. Just use your best judgment.
  4. Make sure you understand the SCAP tool’s analysis results. The lower the ranking of importance means the equipment is the most important. Higher numbers mean the equipment may not be as critical as other assets to your system’s operation.
  5. Consider setting lower limits on the cost of the individual pieces of equipment that you enter into the tool. The SCAP tool can help start your capital improvement planning efforts by identifying expensive pieces of infrastructure and equipment that your system will need to replace in the future. Know which pieces of equipment that you can replace without tapping into capital improvement fund reserves or increasing your rates.

Regardless of where you are in the asset management planning process, SCAP can be a valuable tool for your utility. Find links to the SCAP drinking water tool, wastewater tool, and the user manual here. When you use the tool, let us know. We would love to hear from you and your efforts with the SCAP tool!

SCAP Tool downloads and user guide

Contact the EFC at WSU