Expanding A Standard

Nonconforming use of PACP has helped some municipalities establish priorities and better meet their unique needs.

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During a recent trade show presentation, the presenters were explaining that a collection system owner was ex-panding PACP condition grade 5 to include grades 6, 7 and 8. During the Q&A period, someone asked what NASSCO thought about this modification of PACP.

While this practice should not be considered PACP standard, the municipality is using the program to help establish priorities for asset management in their system, and we at NASSCO are pleased that PACP is supporting this municipality.

In a similar situation, PACP inspection was used rather than an LACP report to document O&M defects in laterals. Use of the MGO (Miscellaneous, General Observation) code is appropriate in PACP, but this does not provide data that can be queried by the owner to identify which sewer customer is experiencing a problem with their lateral (such as a root ball). Some owners have developed procedures to identify these defects either proactively or when called by a property owner to help them sustain their level of service to the customer.

As a standard, it is important that the PACP manual and training materials remain consistent and unwavering. A standard is weakened when it is arbitrarily changed, but NASSCO is pleased that the program supports owners who modify the use of PACP to their benefit.

In both examples, we must assume the inspection was conducted and the data was collected in accordance with PACP. In the first case, condition grades are being used to assist the owner in deciding how to allocate limited resources. Condition grades provide a very high-level screening tool to provide a basis for “likelihood of failure,” an important ingredient in asset management and an appropriate use of the PACP condition grades. The owner applied sound asset management techniques to expand this screening tool and effectively allocate their resources. Note that these condition grades do not take the place of good engineering judgment. This will be addressed in a later issue.

Using the lateral example above, certified PACP users understand that the percentage of the pipe blocked by an RBL (root ball in a lateral) refers to the main pipe and not the lateral. If they can see the root ball two joints into the lateral, PACP dictates that the lateral is not defective. However, if the operator notes that the tap is defective, defects inside the lateral such as root balls can be described either in the remarks column of the defective tap code, or by using the MGO code. Defective taps can then be queried and identified on the final report and subsequent video. While the tap is not defective in accordance with PACP standards, this procedure allows the owner to provide better service to their customers.

Accuracy of data collected from CCTV work is certainly an important factor in PACP. However, standardization of the data is equally important. Accurate, standardized PACP data has substantially increased the usefulness of data well beyond the original purpose for collecting the data. Consultants have developed detailed algorithms that take raw PACP data and establish rehabilitation recommendations that can be used for any of their clients who use PACP. Also, owners use this data to determine the required frequency of cleaning, to help locate laterals for line marking operations, and to determine responsibilities in restoring a customer’s service.

While none of these uses are considered a part of PACP, all use the consistency and accuracy of the PACP data collected. It is exactly that consistency and accuracy that have allowed the technological advances in both assessment and rehabilitation of underground infrastructure.

NASSCO appreciates the importance of standardization that PACP provides, but as pipeline assessment procedures and technologies advance, PACP also needs to advance to meet the needs of the industry. NASSCO is working hard to update PACP to version 7.0, while striving to maintain the standardization that has propelled our industry forward. You can help us by sending photographs that define the proper use of PACP codes. Photographs that are not used in the PACP manual may be made available as supplemental references at www.nassco.org.

Ted DeBoda is executive director of NASSCO. He can be reached at director@nassco.org.


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