NEW YORK, March 11, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Strong growth in the use of asset management practices within the water industry by current practitioners and non-practitioners alike is expected over the next five years, according the findings of a newly released study. The study, "Water Infrastructure Asset Management: Adopting Best Practices to Enable Better Investments," was developed by McGraw-Hill Construction in partnership with CH2M HILL. Preliminary findings were released at the U.S. Conference of Mayors winter meeting in Washington, D.C. on Jan. 17. The study shows that over 80% of current practitioners expect to be using eight out of the 14 asset management practices identified in the study by 2017. The greatest area of growth is for the development of an asset management policy, with growth expected in use among practitioners from 46% to 84% and growth among non-practitioners from 5% to 59%, signaling a clear commitment to the adoption of asset management practices across the industry. The benefits being experienced by asset management practitioners have helped encourage this adoption. The study shows that: -80% report an improved ability to explain and defend their budgets and investments -67% have a better focus on priorities In addition, a higher percentage of utilities engaged in 10 or more asset management practices report achieving the benefits measured in the report. "The more committed an organization is to an advanced asset management practice, the greater the results they are able to see in their organization," said Harvey Bernstein, McGraw-Hill Construction's vice president of Industry Insights & Alliances. "With 43% of the practitioners currently only using four to six out of the 14 practices featured in the study, there is a clear opportunity for utilities to reap more benefits in the future." The use of an asset management approach has a strong, positive impact on how utilities make decisions on their asset investments, according to the study. It shows that 84% of practitioners consider risk assessment an important element in their decisions about investments in new or existing assets, compared to 58% of non-practitioners. It further shows that 59% of practitioners are looking more than ten years out in their asset strategy planning, compared to 33% of non-practitioners.