CH2M HILL and Cincinnati Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD) have been working together to implement an asset management maintenance and reliability program using a team based implementation process since 2012. MSD has earned national recognition for the success of its program.

By: Sam Paske, CH2M HILL P.E. and John Fortin, CH2M HILL P.E.

Sam and John will present their paper, “Team-based Implementation for Engagement, Involvement and Success,” co-authored by John Shinn, Jr. and Don Linn from Cincinnati MSD at the joint Water Environment Federation and American Water Works Association’s Utility Management Conference on Friday, February 28, at 11:30 a.m.

For a complete schedule of CH2M HILL’s participation in UMC 2014, click here.

Utilities today require new approaches to address the challenges of aging infrastructure, increasing regulatory requirements, cost pressures, and demographic workforce changes. One success factor common to all potential areas for improvement is that change is embraced by front line staff. The Metropolitan Sewer District of Greater Cincinnati (MSD) has embraced this idea, and the rewards are starting to pay off.

In 2012, MSD’s Wastewater Treatment Division embarked on a 2-year maintenance and reliability asset management program using a team based implementation process. Teams formed the engine for change by linking strategic plans to action in goal areas including:

  1. Building a condition based maintenance capability to bring services previously contracted outside of the organization in-house,
  2. Creating a reliability engineering  function, and
  3. Implementing advanced maintenance planning and scheduling.

While the utility recognized that achieving success in these three areas simultaneously would require a huge amount of change, MSD was committed to improving its organizational efficiency and effectiveness—setting a goal to reach $1 million in savings over a 2-year period by preventing costly equipment failures through reliability centered maintenance, predictive maintenance, and advanced planning and scheduling.

MSD used an organic process to engage and grow support initially, which included identifying program champions to drive change in support of the strategic goals. A formal chartering process was also utilized to manage activities, and communication among team members was extensive—involving every level of the organization in training, semi-annual reporting, and weekly recognition.  By making people the focus, MSD’s leadership successfully increased support for the program. In a short time frame, the program has delivered measurable results, including $1,200,000 in total cost reductions (as of 2013), increased equipment reliability, decreased downtime, and improved safety.

MSD is leading the industry with its asset management program. Uptime Magazine awarded MSD the 2013 “Best Emerging Maintenance Reliability Program.”

While many utilities have adopted an asset management approach to improve operations, it’s the team approach that has truly differentiated MSD’s program and helped the utility accomplish meaningful change. A change program built on common sense, active management listening, involvement, and ownership has the right formula for success. By getting buy-in and support from the people who do the hard work running the organization, MSD recognizes its people are the most valuable asset for change.


Sam Paske, P.E. has 17 years of asset/maintenance management and technology implementation experience serving infrastructure-intensive North American water and wastewater utilities from CH2M HILL’s Saint Paul, Minn. office. He helps organizations implement best practices by working with all levels of staff to embrace and lead change. Sam’s focus areas include: strategic planning, program implementation, reliability centered maintenance, business intelligence/decision support systems, business process improvement and performance management frameworks. The organizations Sam supports have been featured for their accomplishments by Water Environment Federation, American Water Works Association, Society of Maintenance and Reliability Professionals and Uptime Magazine. Sam graduated from the University of Minnesota with his Bachelor of Science, Civil Engineering, in 1997.


John Fortin is an asset management practitioner with more than 25 years of facilities lifecycle experience including design, construction and O&M. He has developed and implemented effective change management programs required to implement an asset management culture. Mr. Fortin is internationally recognized for his leadership in strategy development and implementation and change management approaches. He uses innovative techniques to provide sustainable change to client’s asset management improvement programs.