Public Works Master Plans
Master plans are critical to the success of your public utilities. Water, wastewater, storm water and transportation all rely on thoughtful, well executed master plans to ensure that services can be provided to all customers in an orderly and cost effective manner. Master plans are the blue-print to future infrastructure expansion and the instruction manual on how to fix current deficiencies that face the City.
Inventory and Assessment
When master plans are updated staff and consultants take a complete inventory of all of the Utility assets and assess their current condition to determine the remaining useful life of the asset.
In the case of pipelines, buried deep underground making them hard to assess, numerous inputs are used to help make these complex assessments:
- When was the pipe installed?
- What is the pipe constructed of?
- Have there been failures on the pipe in recent history?
- Have other utilities had failures with similar material constructed during the same era? Etc.
In the case of sewer and storm water lines staff can further assess the pipes by using sophisticated cameras create video records from inside the pipes exposing any potential flaws they may have. These inputs all help the master planning team to determine if a pipe is nearing failure.
Age, Condition, and Capacity
Asset age, while an important factor in determining when an asset should be replaced is only one contributor. Far more important are the condition and the capacity of the asset in question.
If a pipe is 100 years old, but its condition is nearly flawless and it is only at half of its rated capacity the pipe will not be recommended for replacement.
Staff will look for pipes that are nearing or are at capacity or that have substantial structural flaws such as cracks or leaking joints, or for pipes that have had recent failures even though those assets may be as much as 50 years younger or more! Pipes that failures would have a higher degree of impact will also be replaced before others in poorer condition.
For example, if a failure in a water line could put critical medical facilities out of service it would be evaluated at a higher priority than a line that can be routed around or one that is redundant.
Staff and Consultants also spend considerable time examining current and projected flows and system demands.
- How much water will be needed in the next five, ten or 30 years?
- How much sewage will flow through a given pipe in the system?
This is a critical part of the master planning process that helps develop the size of the assets that are installed. If the calculations are not correct a pipe could be installed that is unable to serve the area intended or it could be oversized; not only wasting financial resources but possible leading to service issues because the pipe cannot serve as intended.
Grants Pass is not unique in the fact that its critical infrastructure is aging and much of it is nearing the end of its life cycle. It is estimated that in Oregon alone there are $9.4 billion in infrastructure needs for water and wastewater in the next 20 years; a trend mirrored in every State in the Nation.
Like Grants Pass, communities are struggling with how to fund needed improvements while balancing the costs of those much needed projects to their rate-payers.
Master plans help Council and Staff see a full picture of the needs of your utilities and make more informed decisions about which improvements are most critical and provide the most benefit to the community.