Stocking Repair Products Helps Speed Disaster Recovery

All of us in the water and wastewater industry are familiar with the universally true slogan, Water is Life.

By John Collins

All of us in the water and wastewater industry are familiar with the universally true slogan, Water is Life. However, something equally true is: The water industry is a lot like life. By this I mean, if something can go wrong it will at the worst possible time and in the worst possible way. In an industry as vital as ours, proper preparedness could mean the difference between life and death.

Water system managers must prepare and distribute contingency plans for all probable and even remotely possible emergencies, both large and small.

This plan should begin with a complete and detailed mapping of the water system. Not only the location of the pipelines, but the sizes and types of pipe that comprise the system. Access to this information reduces downtime and loss of services due to unknowns. It insures carrying the correct size repair fittings to the job site the first time.

Proper documentation of system information prevents the loss of necessary data during an emergency, i.e., tornados, floods, earthquakes, etc. This data can be provided to incoming relief assistance personnel so that they may immediately begin to assist in the repair and restoration of services.

For undocumented systems, it is never too late to start. Managers should begin when new lines are installed. Also, map all lines when they are excavated for expansion or repair. Interviews with experienced and long-term employees prove invaluable when documenting older systems, simply because they may be the only people who know.

Once the system is documented, an inventory of emergency repair fittings can be properly compiled. The economics of having a majority of necessary repair products on hand is incalculable when the system is back online in the shortest time possible.

A number of fitting manufacturers make a universal clamp coupling for repairing cracks, full breaks and splits as well as functioning as a coupling for joining two pieces of plain end pipe. These same manufacturers build extended range multi-band clamps that offer larger working ranges so one clamp can accommodate A/C, ductile iron, cast iron. C-900/905 or IPS PVC in one nominal size.

The stocking of two couplings and a short piece of pipe for each size of pipe in the system provides insurance for repairing any type of damage. Modern design technology has created couplings that have a range up to one and one quarter of an inch and for ease of installation they do not require disassembly, but rather stabbed onto the ends of the pipe.

To isolate areas both flanged coupling adapters and valves should also be kept in stock.

Sometimes the easiest solution is not available and an alternative must be found. Service saddles and tapping sleeves can be used to repair punctures, holes and pitted areas that fit within the inside diameter of the gasket. Simply cap a threaded fitting with a corporation stop or a flanged outlet with a blind flange. An added benefit of this type of repair is that it can actually be used as an additional service in the future.

Finally, a list of emergency contacts must be maintained along with the system information. Resources in an emergency should include municipal contacts such as police and fire departments as well as the street departments and municipal governments – and also the emergency contact number to your fittings distributor.

Select distributors that will work with your water system 24 hours a day. Arrange for them to stock sizes common to your system as well as providing sources to accommodate the non-standard sizes.

Knowing the service-driven manufacturers who can and will supply emergency fittings 24 hours a day is something managers of systems should be aware of.

And finally, networking between water systems can save thousands of dollars. By working together with an open borrowing plan for fittings, system cooperation can save emergency freight charges, overtime costs and reduce system downtime.

By implementing these few but vital practices into system management, water and wastewater departments can insure a top notch professional service to its customers.

About the Author: John Collins is a member of the WWEMA Board of Directors and Director of Sales at JCM Industries.

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