Trenchless Technology

OCT 2018

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Page 89 of 91

90 T R E N C H L E S S T EC H N O LO GY O C TO B E R 2018 L A S T W O R D ASSET MANAGEMENT can be a g radual process , but condi t ion assessment requires more than a supericial scan of system compo - nents. News media report the big infra- structure failures. Whether we man- age water systems or tap into them, we hear about major water main breaks, tunnel collapses and facility mishaps. But if you listen very care- fully after pipes break or leaks devel - op, you'll hear something very com- mon but less publicized: the sound of valves breaking (often followed by exclamations of surprise and dis- may). Old, unexercised valves are hard to ind and easy to break. When pipes rupture, system opera- tors scramble to close valves to miti- gate damage and minimize water loss. It often takes longer than anticipated to ind the valves that will control low exactly as needed in an emer- gency. And when those valves are eventually located, operators fre- quently ind that quickly turning a 60-year-old valve is like trying to drive an antique car 70 miles an hour. Ruptures aren't always to blame for valve hunts and horror stories. We recommend water system operators install secondary, redundant mains to lower failure consequence. But if the valves that tie the primary and secondary mains together are open when everyone thought they were closed, the situation can suddenly turn ugly if one of those mains breaks – especially when valves can't be quickly located or operated. It happens more than you know. As a proponent of condition assessment, I wish I could say that knowing the con- dition of major system components is enough. But our water supply, treat- ment and recovery systems are only as reliable as their weakest points, and sometimes it takes a deep dive to be sure you know what those are. The water industry largely focuses on the largest system components. Increased attention and funding for buried infrastructure over the past decade or so is a giant step in the right direction. But additional steps can help you pinpoint and address risks in your own system. For example, how many utilities know exactly where their valves are located, when they were last exercised and what condition they 're in? Discovering in an emergency that even one important system component doesn't work carries a high price. Developing an asset management pro- gram that facilitates collection and rapid access of system-wide informa- tion, however, is priceless – for rapid emergency response and also for pre- ventive maintenance to lessen the need for emergency response. We're still not identifying and correcting system weak- nesses as holistically as we should. Valves are just one component subject to condi t ion - assessment neglect . Another is wastewater force mains. The use of cameras to inspect gravity sewers is fairly common, but it is often more dificult to under- stand the risks on the other side of a pump station, where a single force main under high pressure may con- vey inluent for treatment . Business risk exposure is a function of likelihood of failure and conse- quence of failure, and we must under- stand our systems well enough to know that some factors, like pressure, actual- ly contribute to both likelihood and consequence of failure. Lack of redun- dancy, which can make a force main dificult to inspect, unfortunately also increases its consequence of failure. Learning the location, condition, and risk associated with all critical components of a system is the goal of condition assessment and one step in an owner 's asset management journey. Effectively managing assets – big and small – to improve opera- tions and control costs is the ulti- mate goal of asset management . The continued move into asset management-based investment plan- ning is propelled by improved and emerging techniques and technolo- gies such as AMI, remote sensing , and data analytics. The understanding that asset management can be imple- mented in manageable pieces and car- ries returns on investment is also fuel - ing interest in condition assessment and overall asset management. Some system owners and operators fear that asset management will yield longer lists of capital expenditures for replacement, which isn't necessarily true. What is true is that preventive maintenance is often the better strategy and costs less than water loss, emer- gency system repairs, and damage remediation. Caught early, some dam- age mechanisms can even be stopped in their tracks, extending asset life. Shifting the spend from capital replace- ment to O&M can be the most effective approach to managing some assets. AWWA's Steel Water Storage Tanks M42 asserts "a good, comprehensive preventive maintenance program can extend the life of an existing tank (as well as that of a new tank) indeinitely." We can't claim to design or build infrastructure that lasts forever, but good design, construction, and asset management practices really can extend the life and increase the efi- ciency of our assets. Imagine where we would be right now if the plan- ners, engineers, constructors, and inancers of 50 or 100 years ago knew what we know now. It's always good to make sure that everyone who needs to know how to swiftly operate the right valves in an emergency situation can do so; the importance of emergency and resil- ience planning can't be overstated. But if you have considered your system as a whole and stay on top of weaknesses, you are much less likely to get caught with your valves – or any other critical system component – down. Bethany McDonald is the condition assessment business leader for Black & Veatch's water business. BY B E T H A N Y M C D O N A L D H o w N o t t o G e t C a u g h t w i t h Yo u r Va lv e s – O r A n y O t h e r Pa r t o f Yo u r Sys t e m – D o w n

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