Metro Water Services (MWS) in Nashville, Tenn., has joined forces with Mueller Service Co., a division of Mueller Co., in a valve assessment project to help the utility map and maintain 51,000 valves in its 3,200-mile water distribution system.
“Over the last several years, our staffing levels have decreased through attrition to the point where it has become more difficult for us to do a lot of the routine maintenance checks on some of our infrastructure that we might have done in the past,” says Hal Balthrop, MWS assistant director of system services.
“We had found that over time and due to our staffing levels, we were just not in a position to perform this particular task in a timely manner. So we decided to go through an RFP to ask for offers from companies that would have experience and avail us a good price for operating all of our valves.”
MWS selected Mueller to locate, exercise and document the characteristics of each valve. “Mueller had a good business plan, good experience, good references, and their pricing was very compelling,” says Balthrop.
Mueller started the valve assessment a year ago and the contract was recently extended for another five years.
“MWS is expanding the knowledge base of their assets,” says Andrew Apgar, national sales manager for Mueller Service Co. “They understand where most of the valves are, but they don’t understand the operating condition of those valves. Our job is to show them the value in understanding where the assets are.”
Related: Macon Water Authority earns gold
With 180,000 water customers, MWS can already see benefits from the project. “We just have more confidence in our distribution system and our ability to manage it when we do have the occasional break or we need to isolate sections of our water system to do maintenance or repair,” says Balthrop.
MWS will use the information gathered from the valve assessment to update and confirm their GIS and CMMS databases and asset information. “We’re getting GPS coordinates in the event that they get paved or have material put on the top of them and we can’t find them,” says Balthrop. They’ve also benefitted from the discovery of a few valves that weren’t on any maps.
“By having a GIS, they can see spatially which customers would be affected by a main break,” says Apgar. “If they have a break, this assessment gives them the confidence that they know where the valve is, that they can operate it without breaking it and causing additional damage, that they can quickly isolate the break, and that they can restore water back to those customers.”
Check out the current Municipal Sewer & Water Buyer’s Guide for meter/valve exercising companies: