A major goal of a water utility is to increase its safe yield as it can directly relate to economic development, potential limiting of new customer connections, or quality of life in general when ample water supply is limited. In this #IronStrong Blog, we will discuss factors that affect safe yield and strategies to ensure it.
There are many "moving parts," as water professionals know, in the operation of a water system. The intricacies of not only supplying customers with a safe water supply but assuring that supply is adequate, including paramount necessities such as fire protection, many times create an ever-changing balance of key parameters within the water system. When the system operator affects such changes, there should be no concern by the operator regarding the transmission and distribution system to accommodate these changes. This article will highlight two system components that can be directly affected by material selected for system underground infrastructure.
When I first started my engineering career, I was placed in charge of coordinating the relocation of water transmission and distribution pipelines to accommodate the construction of an interstate highway through a city of approximately 180,000 residents. Many times, these projects required pre-poured thrust block restraints due to the amended connections between new and old waterlines in a short timeframe so as not to leave customers inordinately out of water for long periods of time.
During the decades in which I have managed large and small water utilities throughout the country, I have experienced several challenging scenarios. Whether it was a major oil spill in the river that provided our raw water supply, a winter with sub-zero temperatures and no snow cover where small water mains were frozen solid in the ground, or the total transitioning from a groundwater source to a surface water source with all the different treatment methodology involved, I had never considered the terminology “the new normal.”
Over the years, products manufactured in our country have enhanced our quality of life, and how the products are manufactured makes a difference. U.S. Ductile iron pipe (DI pipe) manufacturers follow stringent guidelines in the manufacture of their products. In this Iron Strong Blog, we will discuss why to consider a domestic only Ductile iron pipe specification.
We in the United States are most fortunate, for the most part, to have access to safe, clean drinking water. Even when traveling, we are not hesitant to draw water from a hotel faucet to brush our teeth or even fill a glass to drink. This privilege is no accident.
Why is your bottom-line important to us? For more than three decades, I had the privilege to serve within the nation's largest investor-owned water utility. During that time, I clearly saw the advantage of a financially sound utility. Whether it be having the resources to invest in needed facilities, provide a work environment that would attract well-qualified people, or purchase needed supplies and equipment to operate the business effectively. These are just a few advantages of maintaining a strong bottom-line.
In this third installment about Sustainability and Resiliency for our Iron Strong Blog, we are focusing on the resiliency of pipe and pipelines as a result of natural disasters such as storms, floods, and wildfires. While earthquakes and seismic events also need to be considered, much has been written on those aspects and we will discuss them in our next installment. Resiliency means many different things to many different people, and its definition is often a matter of perspective and need. Put simply, resiliency is the ability to survive, resist, or recover from damage due to some external hazard.
Providing safe, clean water to customers of a water utility is unquestionably JOB ONE. Meeting this goal has always been a formidable challenge in many ways. Source water quality can change dramatically due to weather factors and other phenomena. Additionally, increasing drinking water standards throughout the years evidencing higher detection technology and more sophisticated medical research regarding the health effects of contaminants has required water systems in some cases to change treatment methodologies dramatically.
Should the pipeline material placed in a drinking water system in any way limit decisions of today or in the future regarding the water treatment methodology chosen to best provide safe, clean water to customers? I THINK NOT!
I have given several presentations wherein I have identified the distribution system of a water utility as The Forgotten City: Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Although the most significant capital investment for a water system is its pipeline infrastructure, many times, it gets less attention than other components such as pumps, motors, plant structures, pump stations, and even fire hydrants, all of which are visible to the eye. One mysterious component to some water utilities is Unaccounted for Water. Some say that, like death and taxes, Unaccounted for Water will always be present, with the only issue being the degree to which it pervades.
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