I sure am. Because the thing from New Zealand we have that big earthquake in Christchurch about four years ago. And the conversations changed as a result of that from redundancy to resilience.
Evaluating and managing resiliency
Because you can have redundancy and still not be resilient. Because we lost in Christchurch and some surrounding areas we lost whole pump stations and treatment plants that got broken up and lots of pipes were broken.
And guess what, the power network was down as well. So all the electric pumps and the standby generators next to them weren’t working and on it went.
And what you start thinking about it, okay, is my network, or is this part of my network, which is really important to me, not only redundant but is it resilient?
You start looking a little bit wider than just your assets and saying, “Well, if all things fail, what does it do to me? If I have a big event of some description and an earthquake is certainly in that category, then how much do I lose? How much of this is going to get damaged?”
If it’s going to shunt the bridge off its pedestals does it take my pipe with it at the same time, am I in any position to repair, a two or three-foot pipe. Do I have the components around if I lose some of that?
And in the US you’ve had some experience that with the likes of Katrina when that came and a lot of big events like that. So you start looking a bit wider than redundancy and start looking at infrastructure resilience.
Learning from a resiliency case in New Zealand
We have a water utility infrastructure management case on a different area of New Zealand.
A reasonable size town for us, which had some very big tanks, water tanks up on a hill and three feed lines. And they were at a reasonable distance apart from each other.
What happened was, they didn’t have any burst valves on the tank. There is always a question about burst valves – they can be a pain if they stop working and cause you a problem.
One of the pipes let go and that was fairly far away from town and it was on a rugged country, so it took them a while to get out there. Because it was draining these big tanks as fast it could, there was big scour zone.
The scour zone from one pipe took out the second one. You know where the story’s going because the scour zone from the second pipe and the first one together took out the third pipe.
It was further downhill because it was coming across the hill as with the scour.
So they thought they have heaps of redundancy. They had some very big tanks that were all, not just one tank but I think they have that four.
By the end of that the afternoon, they have no water. Not only that they have no water but they have no way of getting that water on. They have that very big scour hole and their tanks had no water in them. So the tanks were there but they had no water.
And so they have to deal with all sorts of emergency stuff and everybody in the country got to hear of that because it was such a big drama.
And so what if you looked it all a bit differently, you might say, hey, we put some burst valves at the top of those tanks. So if you do get a burst, it’s going to shut off and that would never have happened.
They ended up with a, I would have said, multi-million dollar problem, that maybe $40,000 of the valves would have fixed that up at the tanks.
Looking at the whole system and looking at, is it resilient? Looking at other peoples systems, particularly energy, and whether they have infrastructure resilience there.
And then looking at your big and unusual assets and if you lost some of them, are you in the position to fix them? Or do you have some workarounds for that?
PHOTO CREDIT: Arjan Veen via Flickr Creative Commons License. The photo has been cropped to fit website requirements.