PhD project: Consulting companies as a promoter of Infrastructure Asset Management (IAM) uptake by water utilities

Water is an essential resource and, at the same time, it can become a hazard to our welfare. Therefore, to exploit and control the resource for the fulfilment of our increasingly variated needs we have collaborated for the development of a complex and costly infrastructure. To manage these assets in a changing environment is becoming an increasingly difficult task. Traditionally, the constructed elements have been designed under the assumption of stationarity, resulting in a rigid and colossal system with long lifetimes. However, we witness today a quick change of the design variables due to climate change, urban population growth, and the deterioration of the assets due to insufficient maintenance. To make it even more challenging, our society demands an ever-growing quality and variety of water-related services that sometimes must attend confronted interests. 

 Manuel Franco Torres

Manuel Franco Torres

Infrastructure Asset Management (IAM) is a discipline that aims at developing a set of integrated tools that supprt managers and decision makers to effectively plan the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure in a sustainable way. During the last two decades, IAM has demonstrated to be of great utility for assisting managers and politicians to take complex technical decisions, and it will be an essential tool in all Norwegian water utilities in the next decades. Nevertheless, it is becoming more and more accepted that the technical knowledge alone is not sufficient to achieve the sustainability of the urban water services. Similarly to the case of adaptation to climate change, we already have today the technical tools necessary to guarantee sustainability, but there are other social impediments. Therefore, IAM scholars are more and more interested about taking into account the social processes that affect all decision making. These processes are often referred as governance. 

PhD Candidate Manuel Franco Torres’s research goal is to find ways to analyse and improve the governance component of water infrastructure management. It aims to identify and characterize the stakeholders that are (directly or indirectly) involved in the construction and maintenance of the infrastructure, how they interact, and how they negotiate and follow the rules and policies. The final objective is to find how these characteristics and processes link with the practical performance of the urban water services.

The supervisor team is Prof. II Rita Maria Ugarelli (NTNU), Prof. Sveinung Sægrov (NTNU) and Dr.ing. Elisabeth Schjølberg (Multiconsult). The project is funded by The Research Council of Norway and Multiconsult under the Industrial sector PhD scheme.