Industry Trends: The Rising Costs of Crumbling Infrastructure, Part IV

How RJN Can Offer Sustainable Solutions

As you might have gathered from this ongoing feature series, there is no easy fix for solving the problem of crumbling water and wastewater infrastructure. As engineers and technical specialists in infrastructure, we at RJN aim to develop solutions that not only meet the needs of today but also provide cost-effective solutions that can fit into yearly budgets.  What is more, as specialists we provide long-lasting solutions that are both innovative and cost-effective.

In fact, according to RJN CEO/President Alan Hollenbeck, P.E., BCEE, “RJN has pioneered the use of field investigation and software tools for prioritizing collection system rehabilitation. This prioritization process results in lower costs by limiting expensive emergency repairs while at the same time utilizing the full remaining design life of each collection system asset.  In addition, RJN has been at the forefront of testing and implementation of innovative no-dig rehabilitation technology, which has reduced the cost and disruption of collection system rehabilitation in comparison to conventional open cut rehabilitation procedures.”

Such an effective, process-driven approach toward prioritization proves RJN has what it takes to develop cost-effective, sustainable solutions to the problems the country faces with crumbling water and wastewater infrastructure.

Innovation

As some scholars recently put it, “The bottom line is that there is no simple solution. We will need to scale innovative funding solutions and technologies. … Technologies such as predictive analytics (to identify potential asset failures and accelerate repairs) and in situ underground pipe repair [will help resolve some of these challenges].”1

RJN is at the forefront of new technologies to better analyze pipes, using BEM scanning technologies and 360-degree 3D manhole inspection cameras, among other innovations, as featured on this blog in prior months, to offer more comprehensive evaluation. Shown below is a sample view from the 360-degree 3D manhole inspection camera, Panoramo:

IBAK Unfolded

 

 

 

 

Such technologies allow us to make the proper recommendations for municipalities. Doing so ensures efficiency and the most cost-effective solutions.

In addition, hydraulic modeling is one of RJN’s specialties, in which our engineers take collected data to create hydraulic models that predict water flow issues. In doing modeling, RJN can make recommendations that enable preventive measures to be taken, thereby avoiding “the short-sighted, unsustainable, and expensive ‘fix-as-fails’ approach”2 that Dr. Gerald Galloway warned of during the Senate hearings a few years ago.  Such predictive analytics better prepare our clients for future problems and allow them to plan for the future instead of merely handling these issues as they occur.

Hydraulic Model Profile Depicting SSO Occurrence
Hydraulic Model Profile Depicting SSO Occurrence

A Balance of Affordability and Efficacy

To manage the rising costs of infrastructure improvements, engineers must think outside of the box and create solutions that both solve problems and save money. In order to combat the growing costs of a crumbling water and wastewater infrastructure—both the costs in terms of finances and the costs in terms of public health and safety—RJN engineers and technicians develop and implement cost-effective solutions that are as resourceful as they are useful, as affordable as they are effective.

To enact this, RJN has proven processes in place that enable forward-thinking and pragmatic solutions. From conducting comprehensive risk analyses and assessments using the latest tools to following industry standards and other best practices in the development of recommendations, RJN is able to save clients money by determining highest-priority problem areas from the start.  From there, RJN can create a long-term plan that addresses the most important needs of the community while also meeting—or even falling well under—the clients’ often-limited budgets.

Among the process-driven improvements that RJN recommends are those developed around the fundamentals of a Capacity, Management, Operation and Maintenance (CMOM) Plan. These flexible, dynamic plans for municipalities identify and incorporate widely accepted wastewater industry practices, including tools to manage and maintain asset inventories, O&M training and practices, asset maintenance programs, and preventive and corrective practices like FROG programs, emergency response protocols, and continuing condition inspection programs.  With proper CMOM programs, RJN is able to anticipate problem areas and plan for how to best overcome potential future challenges in infrastructure improvement.

This forward-thinking, pragmatic, standardized, and process-driven approach allows RJN to offer the most effective and affordable solutions.   With the proper balance of affordability and efficacy in mind, engineers like those at RJN Group, Inc., can provide solutions to their clients that will not only successfully manage the rising costs of infrastructure improvements but also develop plans of action for safer, more sustainable collection systems across the nation.

Part IV Endnotes

  1. Buckley, Patricia, Lester Gunnion, and Will Sarni. “The Aging Water Infrastructure: Out of Sight, Out of Mind?” Issues by the Numbers, April 2016.
  2. Galloway, Gerald E. Testimony. “Senate Hearing on Aging Water Infrastructure in U.S.” July 25, 2013.