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An effective BIM program can help sewer managers determine immediate and long-term capital needs, such as installation of new pump stations. Photo: Marblehead Water and Sewer Commission
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Five steps to achieving BIMDeteriorating infrastructure is a problem common to sewer systems across the country. Buried infrastructure management (BIM)—a systematic, multistep approach—can help improve system performance and counter the aging process. Source: InfraMetrics LLC.

Prior to the pilot, the MWSC was concerned that mapping, inventorying, identifying immediate maintenance and capital needs, and prioritizing asset renewal and replacement would be costly and could take many years using a traditional approach to collection system management. Once the pilot program was completed, MWSC discovered that with new inspection technologies and software applications it could focus its limited funding and increase productivity, completing the process at a fraction of the cost and time.

In October 2005, the MWSC decided to expand the pilot program to include an inventory and initial assessment of an additional pumping station district and to integrate all of the collected data into its VUE Works asset management software. The computer program gives the MWSC the ability to query the inspection data and videos by simply clicking on a pipe or manhole. The software works directly with the GIS mapping data and provides the capability to maintain the condition data, use the data for risk assessment, and use tools for capturing and tracking service calls and maintenance activities. MWSC staff can quickly produce detailed monthly reports on call activity. Service calls can then be used to develop work orders by the assistant superintendent. The manager can prepare work orders and reports based on the condition assessment and other real-time data. The effort required to manage paperwork and filing is significantly reduced since it is all handled automatically.

MWSC has since implemented 20% of its sanitary sewer system into the BIM program and plans to implement the remainder of the system within the next two years, completing the program by the end of 2008. The town has spent $265,000 for the program to date. About 35% of the collection system has been mapped, assessed, and programmed for cleaning and repairs. The project is running between $2 and $3 per foot for the services described above and is funded through user fees.

The MWSC currently uses the condition information to determine the probability of failure and to calculate risk to prioritize future action in the VUE Works software. The consequence of failure to public health, environment, property, costs, and community also are being configured in the software. By using these methodologies to prioritize maintenance and capital expenditures, the MWSC will maximize the ratio of benefit to resource expended in the near term. As money is invested in the collection system the risks will be reduced, the overall UCI will increase, and less will be spent on reactive maintenance and insurance claims.

— Snow is the superintendent with the Marblehead Water and Sewer Commission; DiTullio is president and Mikhail is project manager with InfraMetrix LLC; and Lovely is vice president of product development for VUE Works Inc.