Asset Management: DC Water

With water mains dating back to FDR, DC Water turns to asset management to keep things flowing.

DC Water provides retail drinking water and wastewater service to over 600,000 residents. DC Water also provides wholesale finished water to adjacent water retailers in Maryland and Virginia. The term aging infrastructure might very well have been created in the District of Columbia. The average age of water mains in DC Water date back to the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration. The oldest water and sewer lines predate the U.S. Civil War. DC Water projects more than 50 years of system maintenance to keep pace. Average customers don’t see this. They only see service interruptions and bills. With a distribution system averaging nearly 80 years old, an increasingly stringent regulatory environment, increased energy costs and hard budgetary constraints, DC Water must invest its resources assiduously.

For example, DC Water uses IBM software to manage the District of Columbia’s fire hydrants. The actual inspections on the hydrants are performed by the fire department, but the maintenance responsibility lies with DC Water. To improve this feedback loop, DC Water created a form within IBM software’s mobile inspection app to automate the data collection during fire hydrant inspections, making this tool available to the fire department. Through better data and improved feedback, DC Water was able to promptly address issues with any fire hydrants, improving public safety. Next DC Water turned to analyzing the data. What hydrants had issues? What were the problems? Through advanced analytics DC Water was able to make aggregate comparisons of specific hydrant models and select options that delivered the best enhanced life cycle.

“Our goal was to help DC Water modernize its water infrastructure as quickly and efficiently as possible,” says Ron Wallace,  product marketing manager for IBM Maximo. “IBM helped DC Water move its maintenance program from paper to digital geographic data, allowing the department to leverage analytics to quickly identify, respond to and repair leakage problems across DC’s aging infrastructure.”

DC Water also uses IBM’s software to merge lower-priority backlog work into critical, high-priority repairs. This allows DC Water to optimize repair schedules, resolving the critical repairs while adding in other, less urgent repairs that are proximate to the high-priority repairs.