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2.7 Use of sustainability index for evaluation of municipalities’ WS maintenance

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The pressure for change on the water and sewage infrastructure is strong and can be seen in the increased load on existing facilities and the need for capacity and robustness. One way to evaluate how the operations that manage the infrastructure are doing is through key figures, known as benchmarks.
The industry organization Svenskt Vatten has
developed a sustainability index (HBI) that can be used to indicate organizational improvements over time and to compare with colleagues in the industry, see figure. For the parameters of climate adaptation and flood safety and facility status, less than 10% of participating organizations reach a sufficient level. The existing water tariff system does not cover the costs of maintaining the level of maintenance and gives rise to a maintenance debt.


Nasik Najar has in his thesis Efficient Management of Water Utilities examined how different water utilities can be developed by actively using HBI. The study shows the importance of a far-sighted leader throughout the development phase but also the need for investments in quality work and innovative technology.
The best performing organizations have some clear success strategies that the study highlights: creating an interdisciplinary team in two organizations, setting aside 1% of the replacement value annually dedicated to reinvestment, a fast decision-making process and a loose budget, and more specific renewal plans, i.e. five- to three-year plans.

Impact on society

1. Organizations with political influence and active ownership can initiate successful strategies with excellent results, regardless of the type and size of the organization.
2. change takes time, but organizations that actively use HBI can show clear improvements.