In the previous post “Finding a Starting Point in Infrastructure Management Despite Outdated Asset Database“, Heather replied to the question on how asset management can be implemented when the true condition of utility assets in the field, especially for buried assets are not known.
Heather then asked Ross to give his answer to the same question.
We had a precisely that situation in a town that we got as the result of a big amalgamation of multiple authorities. It is a little town of 5,000 people and they had very very poor records and very very high, this was wastewater again or sewer; network expenditure was extremely high.
And so we took what we had in terms of records, maybe a pipe goes along here and we just, this was in the days when GIS was still quite new, but we just put a map on the wall.
And anytime we found a new pipe, we drew that on the map on the wall and ultimately that got mapped on the GIS. Every time we got a break or a block or overflow or anything like that, just the same for the water network, we just said, said to the guys that’s were doing the work, where is it? And we just put a little cross or circle, depending on what the problem was, up on that map.
And over a period of about two or three years, we knew exactly where our problems were because they recur usually. And so then we’re able to go and start doing some really targeted investigation and then some pipe replacement.
And the thing is, I think, as an Engineer, your training is to try and get very precise records and particularly with buried assets, you’ll never going to know everything.
So the thing is you can start looking at your land development records and say right, this block was developed in 1960 or 1970, well you can usually be pretty safe to say there was no pipe in the ground before then. It usually goes in around the time of land development. So you can say, hey that pipe went in on that decade as a starting point.
In terms of the condition, just the first thing is start plotting out your maintenance breaks, that will target them in. Get really targeted with your investigation, where you’re getting lots of problems, that would be where you’ve got pipe or other assets in a very poor condition.
You’ll never be funded to get a hundred percent on condition. And even if you do get funded, you only have internal condition, not what’s happening externally.
And in terms of the extent, well, if you’ve got no records, you’re going, you hop on a ute or truck and you go and have a look and/or you use Google Earth or Google Maps or whatever it is.
You know, street view or you see somebody out with a tablet and start plotting it up – but that’s what you do and you don’t try and do it all in one month because you won’t get there.
PHOTO CREDIT: Rick Cooper via Flickr Creative Commons License. The photo has been cropped to fit website requirement.