Learn all about the Pipeline Assessment Certification Program and how it can boost your career.
Since first implemented in 2002, the Pipeline Assessment Certification Program has become the accepted method for municipalities, contractors, consultants and manufacturers to record and track sewer pipe defects and assess the condition of infrastructure, leading to better planning for sewer rehabilitation or replacement. It is also being used as a benchmarking tool in stormwater systems, dams and levee pipe systems.
PACP was developed by NASSCO with assistance from the Water Research Centre in the U.K. to provide a consistent and standardized sewer pipe evaluation method and a management tool for the collection of CCTV data.
“PACP is very widespread now,” says Lynn Osborn of LEO Consulting, technical director at NASSCO. “Many municipalities and sewer districts require it for the CCTV of their sewers.”
Jim Aanderud, president of Innerline Engineering in the Greater Los Angeles Area, was one of the first to be certified in PACP. While he no longer maintains his certification, the company has eight staff members who do. He says around 80 percent of their pipe inspection customers require PACP and that is increasing every year.
Aanderud says it’s a lot different than the days before PACP. “Every operator would see an observation in the pipe and make their own judgment about what to call it,” he says. “You might have 10 people with 10 different opinions about how to name it, so it didn’t necessarily make any sense to the end user. Now, I can send two different operators to the same job on different days and they’re going to be labeling things similarly. And if the client brings in a different contractor, there is similarity in the information and reports.”
NASSCO Executive Director Ted DeBoda adds that PACP is used throughout the United States, taught by the Canadian Standards Association and CERIU, the Quebec urban infrastructure organization, and is now being taught in South America.
“Certification is an important step in the career of operators, engineers and anyone involved in assessment of underground infrastructure,” DeBoda says. “Many, if not most municipalities, specify PACP for doing CCTV inspections of their pipelines, as well as manhole inspections (MACP) and lateral inspections (LACP)."
Since 2002, more than 25,000 people have been certified for PACP. Aanderud adds that the training provides a higher value beyond using the program correctly in that it exposes operators to all the things they may find in a pipe.
“You used to learn through experience,” he says. “Going through PACP training, you’re exposed to pictures of all the different anomalies that can be found in a pipe so when you come across something new, you’re able to call it out correctly. It’s really raised the game when it comes to operators, their knowledge, and their ability to provide the information as accurately as possible.”
The PACP training is a two-day course and is a prerequisite to MACP and LACP, which is generally offered on the third day. All three classes include a comprehensive exam. Certified users have their name and certification numbers entered into a database accessible through www.nassco.org for owners and inspectors to ensure operators have current certifications. Courses are held regularly with more than 100 trainers across the U.S. and Canada who will travel to a site to conduct the sessions as needed.
“Eventually, we’re going to get as much of that online as possible,” Osborn says. The recertification modules, required every three years, are already online.
There are 14 data collection programs and five asset management computer programs certified by NASSCO, allowing contractors to work on any PACP project without requiring them to purchase and learn project-specific software.
“There was a time when if you wanted to work with a particular client, you had to have that particular software package, which are very expensive,” Aanderud says. “Through standardization, we’re able to work for most any customer with the software we choose because, with PACP, we can integrate the data with their system.”
PACP documents four areas of defects:
- Structural — defects where the pipe is damaged or otherwise defective.
- Operation and Maintenance — types of foreign objects found in pipes that may interfere with the operation of the conveyance system.
- Construction — features and conditions associated with the methods used to construct and connect to pipes.
- Miscellaneous — general features and defects that are not described by or included in other categories.
PACP provides condition grades for defects, which can be readily incorporated into any asset management program. The most recent version provides a new appendix that provides the steps to develop a risk assessment based on condition grades (likelihood of failure) and consequence of failure, which helps municipalities make the best use of their capital expenses.
“The operator records the observations about things like service connections, offset joints, roots, and broken pipe in a standardized manner — that’s the key,” Osborn says. “A common way cities use it in their sewer assessment is for their capital program for rehabilitation or replacement. They also use it for the development of a comprehensive preventive maintenance program. They may put sewers that have significant grease or roots on a more frequent cleaning schedule. Because the data is standardized, you can search the database for defects like that.”
You can learn more about PACP, certification, and class schedules in the U.S. and Canada on NASSCO’s website at nassco.org.
Editor’s note: Check back Monday, Oct. 24 for the first installment of a series of test quizzes prepared by NASSCO to help you prepare for the certification program.
Pipeline Assessment and Certification Program - Sample Quizzes