Streamline - Winter 2015 - (Page 31)
Tips on leak location and finding funding
BY ANTHONY HESS, MBA, SUSTAINABILITY COORDINATOR, VDH-OFFICE OF DRINKING WATER
for dealing with chronic leaks without sufficient funding. Most would agree that complete pipe
replacement is the best strategy to eliminate chronic leaks. However, many utilities simply cannot afford the debt payments
associated with replacement of all of their leaking pipes. Furthermore, grants for this purpose are scarce these days. Even if there
is a possibility of grants, no utility should rely on the possibility of grant funds as their primary capital improvement funding
plan. There is just no way to be certain that grants will be available, or if they will cover the full cost of the project. So what
can utilities do in this situation? One strategy may be targeted replacement of the leakiest sub-sections of pipe. In determining
just which sub-sections of pipe need to be replaced, a utility should use records of the location of previous pipe breaks, data
from leak detection specialists, and information about the age and relative condition of pipe. Most engineers or contractors may
not choose a project that replaces 1,000 feet of pipe here, 500 feet of pipe over there, and 350 feet of pipe somewhere else, etc.
However, in some cases this may be just the right strategy to bring financial sustainability back to the utility.
FEW STRaTEgIES ExIST
Many large utilities would consider
this type of project a routine operations
and maintenance (O&M) task. They
likely would use previous leak detection
data to determine when to replace a short
section of pipe versus installing a band
on a pipe. Smaller utilities often do not
have this luxury. Their O&M budget may
be stretched just to afford equipment,
labor, and the bands needed to repair
leaks in the system. Some sections of
chronically leaking pipes may have more
bands than pipe. These smaller utilities may not even record the location of
leaks. Often their leakage rates continue
to increase until they have to replace
entire sections of piping, not knowing
whether or not there are some good
sections in between the leaking ones.
Many of these smaller utilities do not
have capital replacement reserve savings
that can be used for these pipe replacement projects. This leaves them looking
for grant funds or loan/grant funding
packages from funding agencies such
as the Drinking Water State Revolving
Fund (DWSRF) or the United States
Department of Agriculture's (USDA)
Rural Development (RD) program.
It is important to understand that
utilities which historically propose
replacement projects use sound logic
when they suggest replacing an entire
section of piping, instead of a dozen or
so short leaking sub-sections throughout the distribution system. Projects that
replace an entire section of piping work
perfectly when the utility can afford the
project. This was more often the case in
the days when grant funds were more
plentiful. However, the belt tightening
that is facing utilities and their customers is also affecting those funding
agencies that have historically financed
these projects. Utilities should no longer
count on a significant portion of grant
funds for their capital replacement projects. Somehow, these utilities need to
find a way to cover at least the majority
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Streamline - Winter 2015
From the President: Performance Evaluation
From the Executive Director: Save the Date!
Professional or Job Holder: Which Will You Be?
Emergencies: Do You Have A Plan?
Finding Your Way
Hearing Protection – Keep Your Employees Safe
Economic Opportunity: USDA Rural Development/Virginia
Rate Setting – It’s Easy?
Throwing My Loop: Fresh Water
Do You Know What Your VRWA Benefits Are?
2015-2016 Membership Directory
Board of Directors
VRWA Members Corner
Index to Advertisers/Ad.com
Streamline - Winter 2015