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A Seven-Step Action Plan for Sustaining Infrastructure

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Although billions of dollars have been spent constructing wastewater collection and treatment facilities, comparatively little has been spent sustaining this huge investment. Recent catastrophic failures have placed the need to sustain infrastructure front-and-center, with billions of dollars in federal stimulus spending geared towards “shovel ready” projects. However, in large measure, the problems and how to solve them remain “out of sight” and “out of mind.” Nowhere is the problem more acute than in the cities of New England, where some of our oldest infrastructure exists. Many of the sewers, pumping stations and treatment facilities are well beyond their useful life. Combined sewer systems found in many cities have been the focus of regulatory mandates, requiring huge expenditures. While some municipalities are beginning to implement asset management systems, most do not have a good handle on the overall condition of their sewer systems, the cost and resources necessary to sustain them, or the public support to change from past practices. Six New England municipalities are examined that exemplify various stages of evolution towards sustainable infrastructure. These municipalities are representative of many across the nation that are confronting aging infrastructure and the fiscal realities of what it will take to optimize useful life. This paper presents a Seven-Step Action Plan to create a sustainable infrastructure that will support these vital services for future generations.

Keywords: Aging infrastructure; Asset Management; Capital Improvement Plan; Communications Plan; Consequence of Failure; Financial Plan; Key assets; Probability of Failure; Risk of Failure; Sewer Assessment; Sustainable infrastructure; System Diagnostics

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2009

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  • Proceedings of the Water Environment Federation is an archive of papers published in the proceedings of the annual Water Environment Federation® Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC® ) and specialty conferences held since the year 2000. These proceedings are not peer reviewed.

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