Ohio Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) asset management (AM) rules apply to every public water system in the state of Ohio and require those systems to provide an evaluation of assets, including a condition rating that can range from “excellent” to “needs replacement.” There are many challenges utilities face in developing and maintaining these condition ratings for their asset base, including:
- Utilities need an asset register to start tracking condition against assets
- Some assets are buried and cannot be visually evaluated
- Dramatically different assessment methods are needed for the wide variety of assets to be evaluated (mechanical, structural, electrical, tankage, valves/gates, etc.)
- Condition ratings must be as objective as possible
Mobile data collection tools can be utilized to efficiently assess assets for various types and sizes of facilities to help meet Ohio EPA requirements for AM. These tools are designed to eliminate the typical bottlenecks of asset data collection. Such tools include Esri’s Survey123, a free tool built within the mobile-friendly ArcGIS application.
These applications will help streamline the asset data collection process. They can be pre-populated with equipment lists to minimize the need to collect asset data in the field. They are designed with quality assurance features, such that an equipment condition assessment cannot be completed until all required fields are populated. Inspections are dated and associated with an asset through unique asset identification, and multiple inspections can be assigned to an asset, so that any trends in condition can be seen over time.
Specific scoring criteria have been developed to capture the unique features of different types of vertical assets, including mechanical, electrical, structural, HVAC, valves/gates and elevated tanks. Condition scores are assigned using an industry standard 1 to 5 scoring system that allows for consistency across the entire asset base. The 1 to 5 scoring system includes descriptive explanations of what each score means in order to eliminate as much subjectivity as possible. The goal is to have an objective rating system that is sustainable, regardless of who is doing the assessment.
Condition assessment of water mains is very different than facility assets. Physical condition assessment is extremely expensive and typically not warranted except for the largest water systems. One approach is to leverage GIS data and a system’s water main break database to perform a desktop analysis of break rates for the various types of pipes (pipe classes) in the public water systems. Examining that information can help predict future pipe failures. Past practices generally involved replacing water mains based on age, but evidence has shown that practice to be counterproductive. Based on manufacturing practices over different eras, the expected life of some of the oldest pipes can be nearly double that of more recently installed pipe. It is now recommended to use actual break data to predict performance by pipe class so that utilities are not replacing pipes that are performing well and are expected to continue to do so. In addition to using pipe break data, using GIS data to determine pipe condition often results in a valuable GIS data cleaning exercise that will benefit the utility in many other ways.
This presentation will review the condition assessment techniques described above to give utilities a baseline exposure to satisfying Ohio EPA asset management rules related to condition assessment in an accessible and affordable way.