In the previous post, Ross presented the case of the Havelock North water contamination incident, explaining the lessons learned.
Here, Ross cites the importance of making valid assumptions in asset management based on what happened in Havelock North.
The other thing and this is something that we do a lot of asset management planning is we’re making a lot of assumptions.
We’re assuming that in their case they assumed that the well is secure, and the groundwater was pure. Both of those assumptions were incorrect.
That particular area has had exceptionally good groundwater for 150 years.
But I think what’s happening now as we really look at it and it’s been multiple millions of dollars are spent on mapping groundwater since the purity is that the agriculture intensity in the area is that groundwater is not as pure as people thought it was.
And it’s just changing the entire view of what you do.
And I was talking to Heather about this earlier in the week and we were talking about multiple barriers for wells for contamination and our legislation and regulations in New Zealand.
We’ll be changing to that quite quickly I think over the next few months but, anyway the point from an asset management point of view is if you run on an assumption that’s incorrect, it’s going to hurt you at some stage.
And that might be an assumption like this particular municipality made about around the security of their well. It could be an assumption around the condition of your pipes and how long they’re going to last.
A really simple one is if your pipes are in poor condition you don’t know if they are going to last 80 years and you are going to assume that they are going to last 300 years.
That’s an assumption that’s going to hurt you financially at some stage and service delivery wise.
So, I just thought the right place to start. While people think of their questions and something that from our country’s point of view is never place we wanted to be, no water supply asset management or engineer ever comes to work on a Monday morning, wanting to have 5,000 people sick by the end of the week. Indeed, there’s a lot of paperwork that follows on from there.
The team that was involved in it have, for the last year, they’ve just put an effort above and beyond to get everything right again. But it was too late.
Yeah, the mistake and the assumptions were made, and I just thought you, in America here, you probably haven’t heard about that one but it’s just some basic lessons, as lessons out of Flint.
Some really basic lessons that we can all apply to our asset management practices.
And it also reminds us that you know we do have to make assumptions in our asset management planning. I mean that goes without saying that there’s no way to know everything but to check those assumptions periodically.
So, as we’re going along, we make these assumptions like, for example, Ross mentioned the pipe lasting, say, I think it might last 80 years or 100 years or 150 years. And checking those assumptions over time, so as we are getting closer to 80 years, does it look like 80 is going to work or does it look like 60 is more like it or 120 is more like it.
So, checking those assumptions periodically instead of just leaving them in there forever and never going back to see if we were right or we’re wrong. Because you have to start somewhere, but we kind of want to circle again, I think and look at some of these assumptions.
Yes, it’s validating those assumptions, and we’re in a science and evidence-based profession. And so while you do have to make assumptions while you’re doing your initial planning, the practice would say you’re going to go and find some evidence to support that assumption or alter it at some stage.
Pretty basic stuff and I think sometimes we write our asset plan, and we get on with our programs, and life gets busy, and we just forget to circle back, as you said Heather and validate those assumptions.