AWARE-P (2008-2011) was a seminal R&D project designed with the aim to develop and implement in water utilities a structured procedure for infrastructure asset management.
The prevailing low levels of rehabilitation of existing water infrastructures worldwide are a major threat to the long-term sustainability of urban water services — a time bomb largely invisible to society and policy-makers, placing an unreasonable burden on coming generations. A paradigm shift in infrastructure asset management (IAM) is urgently needed in order to cope with capital-stressed contexts and ever-stringent drivers such as climate change or environmental protection. In Portugal, as in many other countries, 3 decades of capital investment focusing on new infrastructure have had a major impact on service coverage and quality, but have also left an ever-widening gap in deferred rehabilitation of the existing infrastructure.
Learning from leading know-how and practice (e.g. Australia, New Zealand, EU research and IWA’s network of professionals), LNEC partnered with other R&D organizations, software developers and utilities in the AWARE-P project to jointly develop a ground-breaking IAM planning methodology, supported by technical guides and a professional-grade, innovative software, plus e-learning and demo cases. A rollout & capacitation stage implemented through national-level initiatives, such as the LNEC-led iGPI, allowed the methods and software to be validated and refined while supporting the effective, on-field development and implementation of IAM methodologies by over 30 utilities.
Today, over 25% of Portugal’s population are served by utilities that have produced their corporate strategic and tactical IAM plans based on the AWARE-P methodology and templates — endorsed by the national water services regulator ERSAR — with widespread use of the open-source software, effectively creating alignment and critical mass for much-needed change. This has been supplemented by 2 utilities in Spain and one in the USA, with a pilot starting in Australia in 2013; while the AWARE-P software has over 1000 registered users in 5 continents. IWA’s LESAM 2013 singled out Portugal’s disruptive IAM program in its conclusions, while WERF and USEPA (USA) are promoting uptake of the innovative methodology and further development of the software in the USA, and the World Bank’s Danube Water Program has expressed an interest in the rollout formula utilized in the project. Given the diversity and representativeness of Portugal’s water market, this project provides a valuable blueprint for similar development elsewhere.
Background: previous R&D projects
The CARE-W (Computer Aided Rehabilitation of Water Networks, 2001-2004) and CARE-S (Computer Aided Rehabilitation of Sewer Networks, 2002-2005) research projects, developed under the EU's 5th Framework-Program and with significant contributions from AWARE-P partners Sintef (Norway) and LNEC (Portugal), produced methodologies and computer prototype applications for assisting water and wastewater utilities in planning rehabilitation interventions.
These projects were fundamental stepping stones in the establishment of structured approaches and their implementation into dedicated instruments. However, the resulting software prototypes, while fully functional, still needed some computational development before they can be widely used in the water industry.
AWARE-P is a direct successor of those two efforts, trying from the outset to reach the industry and society with useable, effective products that can make a difference in capacity building and support to the planning process.
Coordination & Team
AWARE-P was largely due to the vision and determination of Helena Alegre (LNEC), project initiator and scientific coordinator, and a leading worldwide expert on infrastructure asset management of urban water services. Sergio Coelho (LNEC) joined the team as Project Manager in October 2009; software development was led by Diogo Vitorino and the Addition team.
Aware-P relied on a cross-disciplinary core team from LNEC (Portugal), IST (Portugal), Addition (Portugal), Sintef (Norway) and Ydreams (Portugal), with support from the Portuguese water services regulator ERSAR and 4 partner utilities: AdP, AGS, SMAS de Oeiras-Amadora and Veolia Mafra. The Aware-P partner utilities were an integral part of the development effort and productive contributors to all aspects of the project, under the leadership of Luís Mamouros, João Feliciano, Julieta Marques and Rui Rua/ Pedro Pereira, respectively.
Alegre, H., Coelho, S.T. (2012). Infrastructure Asset Management of Urban Water Systems. Chapter 3 of "Water Supply System Analysis", ed. Avi Ostfeld (ISBN 978-953-51-0889-4). Open access at: www.intechopen.com/books/water-supply-system-analysis-selected-topics
Alegre, H., Coelho, S.T., Covas D., Almeida, M.C., Cardoso, M.A. (2013). A utility-tailored methodology for integrated asset management of urban water infrastructure. Water Science & Technology: Water Supply Vol 13 No 6 pp 1444-1451 © IWA Publishing 2013 doi:10.2166/ws.2013.108
Alegre, H., Covas, D. (2010). Infrastructure Asset Management of Water Services. An aproach based on rehabilitation. Technical Guide 16. ERSAR, LNEC, IST, Lisboa, 472 pp. (in Portuguese) ISBN: 978-989-8360-04-5.
Almeida, M. C., Cardoso, M. A. (2010). Infrastructure Asset management of Wastewater and Stormwater Services. An approach based on rehabilitation (in Portuguese). Technical Guide n.17. ERSAR, LNEC, IST, Lisboa (ISBN: 978-989-8360-05-2) (in Portuguese).
Coelho, S.T., Vitorino, D., Alegre, H. (2013). AWARE-P: a system-based software for urban water IAM planning. IWA LESAM 2013, 10-12 Sep, Sydney, Australia.
Feliciano, J.; Almeida, R.; Alegre, H.; Covas, D. (2013a). Asset Management in small and medium utilities – AGS’ Experience. LESAM 2013, IWA / AWA, 9-12 Sept., Sydney, Australia.
Feliciano, J.; Almeida, R.; Santos, A.; Ganhão, A.; Covas, D.; Alegre, H. (2013b). Energy efficiency in water distribution systems – A path to an ideal network. LESAM 2013, IWA / AWA, 9-12 Sept., Sydney, Australia.