Inspire : Public Works Mar Apr 2014
CASE STUDY The 2002–03 fnancial year was an annus horribilus for City West Water (CWW), with the Victorian Government-owned retail water business recording the worst water main failure rate of all major water utilities in Australia. Just over a decade later, the Melbourne utility company’s proactive approach to fxing these water main failures has resulted in a dramatic reduction in supply inter r uptions, placing the authority in a vastly improved position. CWW’s Asset Performance Manager, Max Anderson, says he’s proud to say the company’s aggressive water main management practices have improved both its long-ter m performance and the public’s perception of the utility. He says the aggressive plan of action included the introduction of a proactive failure analysis process, increased condition assessment using electromagnetic scanning, the development of an Asset Risk Management Model, and the initiation of a reporting tool designed to undertake daily monitoring of the number of times a customer has lost supply in the past 12 months. “It didn’t happen overnight – in fact it took two to three years – but the whole exercise of identifying mains and expediting the time it takes to renew those mains has improved dramatically,” says Anderson, a civil engineer with almost 40 years’ experience working in the water industry. Anderson presented his paper, The Reduction of Water Main Failures at City West Water at last year’s IPWEA International Public Works Conference in Darwin, where he highlighted the value of CWW’s rigorous new operational tactics. The paper outlines how, during the 2002–03 fnancial year, CWW experienced more than 3600 failures on its water mains, which translated to 105.5 breaks per 100km. Anderson also explained in the paper just how the utility got its KPIs on track, and pulled its failure rates back to a respectable 33 breaks per 100km at the end of the 2011–12 fnancial year. Anderson says one of the most stressful aspects of the interr uptions to Melbourne’s water supply was trying to rectify the situation, while caught up in a maelstrom of negative media coverage. CWW’s Manager, Asset Reliability, Joe Vassallo agrees it wasn’t just the major failures that were the problem: a period of sustained drought had triggered an avalanche of issues, and the sheer quantity of failed assets meant crews could simply not get to them all in time. “We were getting continual complaints on talk- back radio and on the nightly news and the more that was fxed, the more that broke. What the public didn’t know was CWW was prioritising the worst failures and, on average, had a backlog of about 200 leaks to repair at any one time. At the end of the 2002–03 fnancial year, we had about 3000 customers who had experienced more than four interruptions in the past 12 months,” says Vassallo. @ TROUBLED WATERS City West Water hit rock bottom in 2003, with the worst water main failure rate of all major water utilities in Australia. More than a decade later, the successful implementation of proactive asset management plans has turned the situation around. BY CARLA GROSSETTI 27 What the public didn't know was that CWW was prioritising the worst failures.
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