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Before It's Too Late! Development of a Force Main Prioritization and Inspection Model

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This paper describes the strategic approach that Seattle Public Utilities (SPU) is taking to develop a wastewater force main condition assessment program. Like many utilities across the country, SPU does not have current condition information on its force main assets. This paper focuses on the development of a risk-based force main prioritization model, inspection prioritization, and selection of appropriate inspection technologies, and it provides a case study of a specific force main condition assessment at a pump station. The assessment program evaluates the condition of the force main system to identify potential structural and operational failures before they occur. This program helps SPU meet service level commitments to its customers and reduce the costs associated with unplanned repairs. The program also provides detailed information to the engineers who design force main repairs, develop rehabilitation, and plan replacements. The force main inspection strategy and corresponding data collection support asset management goals such as refining the asset inventory, extending the useful life expectancies of assets, and meeting service levels at an appropriate cost.

SPU's collection system is comprised of approximately 1,500 miles of sewer pipeline containing approximately 25,000 linear feet of force mains. In the first quarter of 2010, SPU embarked on a comprehensive Capacity, Management, Operations, and Maintenance (CMOM) Project with an initial goal of developing an implementation roadmap aimed at reducing the frequency and severity of sanitary sewer overflows (SSOs). A key challenge was to develop a strategy for force main prioritization and condition assessment for 68 pump stations and associated force mains. The goal is to use likelihood of failure characteristics such as age, material, failure history, and consequence of failure characteristics such as location, average daily flow, and available storage time to prioritize inspections of the force main system.

Keywords: CMOM; Case Study; Condition Assessment; Force Main; Inspection; Model; Prioritization; Risk

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2011

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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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