Don’t Let Winter Breaks Keep You in the Cold

Posted by Paul Carpenter on Nov 18, 2019 2:55:20 PM

Fracta_Cold-WeatherWinter is coming, and for many parts of North America, it is already here. The 2019 winter season came on quickly and brutally. If you haven’t already prepared for the busy water main break season, there is still time, but time is not on your side. So, how do you prepare your assets to avoid failure and costly repair? A predictive/preventative asset management program is your best bet.

Utilities working on a reactive basis consequently pay for emergency, high-priced contractors to assist with repairing cold month breaks. These repairs are not cost efficient, but neither is paying for more staff to assist with these events. The cold not only effects water mains due to ground temperature fluctuations causing stress on the network, but also the machinery used to repair the pipes. Machinery might not start, water can freeze and crews may have to dig through ice to find the break, which means an 8-hour project now takes 12. Yes, people must brave rough winter conditions for 12+ hours to bring water back to disrupted areas.

A large utility on the East Coast averages 400 water main breaks a year and can have more than 150 breaks over a cold snap – sometimes these breaks occur in a 2-week span. A utility in the Midwest had 40 crews fixing 60 water main breaks a day in 2018. The costs associated with emergency crews here are enormous, but these direct repair costs are not the only cost a utility will face. These breaks result in hours of disrupted water to customers and an increase in non-revenue water loss. Not to mention the environmental impacts as chlorinated water refreezes, risking damages to private property and unsafe traffic conditions as water pours onto roadways causing flooding, icing and road damage.

Many of these breaks could have been avoided by utilizing artificial intelligence/machine learning, coupled with the asset and break data you are already collecting. Fracta can complete Likelihood of Failure (LOF), Consequence of Failure (COF) and Business Risk Exposure (BRE) condition assessments for an entire water main distribution system in 4-8 weeks. The results are delivered via a web-based system and visualized using dynamic graphs and charts. New data can be uploaded and modeled several times per year, enabling a dynamic, near real-time assessment of the system.

When you know which pipes are most vulnerable, you can spend the warmer months efficiently applying your capital expenditures to prevent service disruptions by rehabilitating or replacing them proactively. A proactive asset management program will save time, resources and headaches in the winter months. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) also provides a list of potential impacts and guidance for how water utilities can prepare.

Join us on December 4, 2019 to learn more about the Fracta Machine Learning Solution:

Wednesday, December 4 at 2:00pm EST: The Effectiveness and Value of AI, Machine Learning in Water Main Condition and Risk Assessment with Real World Examples — Doug Hatler, Environmental Engineer & Chief Revenue Officer, Fracta

Topics: Risk Management, Leak Detection, Condition Assessment

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