Saturday, December 20, 2014
Two articles worth reading:
- The purported claim by New Geography regarding the American Society of Civil Engineers and their self-serving infrastructure report cards - link.
- From Al Jazeera and why the U.S. should approach infrastructure investment more like Mickey Mouse - "The Walt Disney Co. invests in infrastructure because it makes the company money." - link.
A fascinating article on the historic winners and losers in the context of climate change. Interesting that for every loser you have winner - climate change is a classic zero sum game. Engineering will play a key role in ensuring that we have a balance between winners and losers.
Friday, December 19, 2014
Thursday, December 18, 2014
Communities around the world are racing to break down the silos of how we have traditionally viewed water management. In the past, potable water, wastewater, and stormwater were each viewed as separate quantities. The notion of “One Water” is increasingly gaining traction in many parts of the globe. In Texas and other parts of the Southwest and California, a multi-year drought and concerns regarding climate change are forcing public officials and managers to rethink their reliance on imported water sources.
Cities are expanding their efforts to further integrate water strategies that encompass groundwater remediation, stormwater capture and storage, recycled water, and conservation. The idea of “One Water” is interfacing with the world of grey/green infrastructure and green/blue water. As illustrated on the attached graphics, the worlds of grey/green and green/blue water are increasingly interconnected. These interconnections produce opportunities (i.e., recycling wastewater) along with risks (i.e., a gasoline spill on a highway can potentially contaminate stormwater capture and storage infrastructure used for park and athletic field irrigation).
The key to successful management in this new interconnected world is the willingness to embrace “Whole System Approach” asset management. The world of green-blue infrastructure is notably one of regional and distributed stormwater harvesting systems based on integrated planning efforts. The cornerstone of these types of integrated planning efforts must be an approach to asset management that looks at all the systems and their interconnections.
In recent decades, concerns over poor service performance (often only highlighted during high profile failure of infrastructure) and unnecessary loss of asset value (arising from inadequate maintenance and capital renewal) has driven governments across the globe to demand improvements in infrastructure management practice in the public sector. All of these concerns currently persist, but new asset management concerns wait on the horizon as we reduce silos and develop more fully integrated infrastructure.
Enhanced watershed management plans will require more robust full spectrum asset management. Projects involving watershed management improvement will involve code changes, public education/outreach, eliminating illegal discharges, carrying out inspections, cleaning storm drains, and sweeping streets. All of this will require systems and management structures that reduce and eliminate barriers between department and systems. Capturing and treating stormwater from parking lots in municipal and recreational areas is an example of another watershed enhancement program. Bioswales can be installed to direct dry-weather flows from parking lots to constructed wetlands. The ability to connect the dots between and among distributed infrastructure systems will be a key management attribute for asset management engineers in the coming years.
Asset management provides many tools and opportunities for asset managers to see system interconnections and value chains. The infrastructure asset management policy objective and principles of any organization needs to incorporate the “Whole System Approach” into the principles of sustainable service delivery, social/economic development, custodianship, transparency, and cost effectiveness/efficiency. Specific requirements for a “Whole System Approach” to asset management must consider the following:
· Information and Data Collection – An asset register must cover all the infrastructure assets and provide data to support effective systems integration and coordination. An organization must adopt simple and robust processes that allow for information transfer and exchange. The more critical the infrastructure – the greater the focus on detail.
· Asset Knowledge – A system must be in place that links information from the asset registry. A GIS platform is the simplest and best methodology to illustrate and manage interconnections between systems in the green/blue world.
· Level of Service – Linking customer service levels and satisfaction is critical. Measures must be easy to implement and manageable. Performance in one system must be viewed in the context of the other interfacing systems.
· Demand – Increased resource demands and reductions will place demands throughout interconnected systems. Something like housing starts will place asset management demands on all parts of the green/blue world.
· Risk Management – Linking the performance of one system to another produces risk. Understanding risk and consequences is much easier with a holistic asset management system.
· Life-Cycle Plan – Financial and cash flow modeling of integrated systems is easier with a robust asset management program. Understanding condition assessments and the time-to-failure of an infrastructure asset produces more realistic financial plans. This is especially true in a world of interconnections.
· Practice Improvement Plan – Monitoring the distributed and interconnected systems of the green/blue world will produce opportunities for evaluation and improvement. A fully developed asset management system provides data and information for more proactive, preventive, and predictive decision making and continuous improvement.
The world is increasingly moving toward “closed looped” systems. Communities want to prevent stormwater from leaving the city, capture and cleanse the water, and use it on-site or allow it to infiltrate into the ground wherever possible. At the same time, cities are moving to recycle as much wastewater as possible as cost-effectively as possible for nonpotable uses or indirect possible use. Communities will be increasingly focused on balancing the demands of greater and greater system interconnections with opportunities and advantages of the “Whole System Approach” to asset management.