Development of Asset Management Plans – Atlantic Canada

Dillon Consulting Limited collaborated with the Atlantic First Nations Water Authority (AFNWA) to develop individual Asset Management Plans for Water and Wastewater Systems for participating First Nations Communities in Atlantic Canada (NS, NB, and PEI).

The AFNWA is a First Nations owned non–profit organization incorporated under the Canada Not–for–Profit Corporations Act. Their goal is to provide safe, clean drinking water and wastewater services in all participating First Nations communities in Atlantic Canada, delivered by a regional water authority owned and operated by First Nations.

The purpose of the Asset Management Plans is to help increase financial sustainability and assist with long-term planning for individual First Nation communities by identifying asset inventory and condition, calculating capital investments required, and understanding system operation and maintenance needs. First Nation communities have a desire to maintain or upgrade their systems to national standards, and through this project, communities are better equipped with the knowledge and tools to make informed decisions on their assets.

The project faced external challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as the First Nation communities were located across three provinces and 14 health regions with varying health and safety requirements. Strong project management and communication skills were required to maintain momentum throughout this important project. The deliverables produced will support the AFNWA’s effort to create a new approach to managing water and wastewater infrastructure in First Nation communities in consideration of the disparity in federal investments for water and wastewater systems across Canada.

Atlantic First Nations Water Authority office
Measuring water depth in a stream
water station
Inside water station
Pipes in the water station
plumbing in station
Eskasoni water utility sign on grey building


Our team developed individual asset management plans for water and wastewater systems in 17 participating First Nation communities in Atlantic Canada. In order to complete this, an asset management framework was created to help guide the deliverables associated with data collection, asset analysis, levels of service, risk management, and capital prioritization for the purposes of creating financial and business plans within the organization.

The project also included the completion of water and wastewater treatment assessments, which included Environmental Risk Assessments for wastewater systems and investigations to determine if wells exhibit Groundwater Under Direct Influence (GUDI) of surface water. Results from these assessments were integrated into first generation asset management plans for each community, and were used to establish target levels of service performance metrics.


The body of knowledge used for this project was spread across multiple sources in many different formats, which resulted in significant data gaps. Dillon worked with the AFNWA to establish a standard asset hierarchy for the project, as well as data management and governance initiatives to clearly establish responsibilities related to data inventory and upkeep.

Additionally, this project included an operational survey, where members of the Dillon team located, assessed, and recorded GPS locations of individual drinking water and wastewater appurtenances, such as hydrants and manholes, to understand operational upgrades related to the water and wastewater linear networks. Dillon worked closely with system operators to better understand system limitations and share capacity to produce a more comprehensive and useful legacy tool for the operators. This task provided an opportunity to digitize the linear networks and provide critical record information to the AFNWA and First Nation system operators. These digital linear maps also provide the opportunity for the operators to review site specific information in real time while in the field, improving their ability to locate assets, identify pertinent information, and update information in real time.


  • Award of Excellence, Association of Consulting Engineering Companies New Brunswick, 2022
  • First place, TEREO Innovator Award, Canadian Network of Asset Managers, 2022
  • Project of the Year Award – Medium Utility, Atlantic Canada Water and Wastewater Association, 2022

Project Details

Project Partner: Atlantic First Nations Water Authority
Business Unit: Community Infrastructure
Service offering: Asset Management