A wise man once said, “If you don't know where you're going, you might not get there.” That man was the eccentric Hall of Fame baseball catcher, Yogi Berra. While Yogi only knows exactly what he was referring to when he uttered these words, the lesson can be applied in many different arenas. Believe it or not, one of these is managing a wastewater collection system…
A vital piece in managing any system of infrastructure is knowing what you have and where it is located. Without this, the personnel tasked with operating and maintaining the system are essentially flying blind, managing reactively and wasting valuable funds. An accurate and up-to-date system map is the first step in knowing where you are and where you are going.
About one year ago, the Town of Clayton, Indiana was in the unfortunate position of not having a reliable wastewater collection system map; a position that is not uncommon for a lot of smaller communities. Town staff were relying solely on old as-built drawings whenever a question came up about their system. They were forced to dig through Town records to locate the right set of drawings, thumb through the set to find the correct part of the system, and hope that the decades-old information was accurate. In many instances, additions to subdivisions were either on a separate set of drawings or were not accurately recorded. That’s when Clayton contacted Wessler to help the Town wrap its arms around its system.
Wessler’s approach was two-pronged. The first priority was mapping the system. This was accomplished using GPS survey equipment to obtain horizontal location and elevation data for each sanitary manhole. The pipe connectivity, flow directions, pipe sizes and materials were confirmed based upon surface level inspection. While the mapping data was being recorded, Wessler crews also performed manhole inspections at every structure noting any major infiltration/inflow (I/I) sources and structural defects. Signs of any potential upstream pipe issues such as pieces of VCP pipe in the channel were noted. The manholes were placed into a prioritized ranking system that could be utilized for future rehabilitation budgeting purposes.
Wessler was able to provide Clayton with an accurate snapshot of where they stood with a wastewater collection system map. Moreover, Clayton was now armed with a roadmap forward, allowing the Town to proactively budget for system improvements and use funds judiciously, all while addressing sources of I/I throughout the system. Clayton certainly now has a better chance of getting where they’re going.