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Dealing with Aging Water Utilities of the US through Infrastructure Asset Management

aging water infrastructure US

Most of the water infrastructure of the US were constructed in late 1940s and therefore they are old. Aging water utilities are weak and vulnerable to leaks and failures, which may be caused by natural and mad-made stimuli.

Considering that majority of the water pipes in the US were embedded at the close of World War II, then a considerable percentage of these are nearing the end of their useful life.

The benchmark report of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2002 published that some water systems lose 60% of water due to pipe leaks. According to the report many cities are experiencing water delivery loses.

This problem has not been addressed totally for some technical and financial reasons. The aging water utilities of the US presents threat to the community’s health and lifestyle.

Leakages through the pipe walls and joints are sources of contamination. Also, the force of leaking water may cause soil erosion or block water delivery.

Just imagine the impact of contaminated water to health. Also, the loss of water affects industries and business operations. When water supply is diminished due to old and defective water conduits, households are gravely affected in terms of domestic use such as cooking, gardening and preparing for going to school or offices.

What adds to the problem is the lack of infrastructure management plan. As the days, months and years go by, without intervention soon, the aging water utilities will deteriorate from “very poor” to “failure” condition. If failure happens, city councils and local governments will be in pandemonium trying to solve the causes and effects of water infrastructure failure.

The cost of restoring old water infrastructure into good condition is high. Implementing a substantial and aggressive intervention to resuscitate an old and dying water system is very expensive. Thus, coming up with a plan is one good strategy that utility administrators and infrastructure management engineers may consider doing.

Leaders who are not convinced of the importance of making an infrastructure asset management plan have the tendency to only look at the cost of making one. We cannot blame them for perceiving making an asset management strategy as merely an expensive exercise because times are hard and the negative economic situation is far from over.

Yes, it may involve expense but they should also consider that instituting a system that would make water asset management sustainable in decades to come is a wise venture.

EPA in their “The Clean Water and Drinking Water Infrastructure Gap Analysis in 2002” and GAO (General Accounting Office) in their “Water Infrastructure” study mention the absence of better water asset management in water utilities operation and maintenance.

The state or the local governments could opt to invest on decision-making software and engage consultants to guide them in planning and executing a working asset management plan. Because there are many available outstanding asset management software programs, evaluating what would work best for the current situation is necessary.

This may entail searching for qualified and experienced professionals who could expertly guide through the local asset managers in creating and implementing the water infrastructure management plan of action.

It might cost a considerable amount of money but the primary benefit of implementing solutions to aging water utilities based on an infrastructure asset management plan< is the judicious use of financial resources of the US.

Inframanage has an expert infrastructure management team, which experiences and expertise in New Zealand asset management setting are quite applicable to the US situation.

Photo Source: RT.COM

Learning Resource for Centralians – Optimised Decision Making, IDS and the Deighton Water Model

Inframanage

Recently, I read the article “Optimised Decision Making, IDS and the Deighton Water Model – An Introduction” which sparked my attention.

Published on the Inframanage.com site, the article includes a video that demonstrates the Deighton Water Model and the resource persons talked about the implication to finance and infrastructure management.

As a civil engineering graduate, this is very important learning resource for future infrastructure asset managers.

Watching the video made me wished I had learned about this in college. The learning Deighton Water Model presents could be applied not only in the context of asset management.

I was smiling thinking about using it for evangelism.

Thinking about CPU’s many assets, I’m sure nuggets of wisdom on optimized decision making would be very helpful.

I appeal for professors to recommend this learning resource to your students.

Are you a leader, engineer, manager, realtor, development planning specialist, investor?

Are you engaged in public works, infrastructure management and development planning?

Please take time to watch the short “Deighton Water Model” demonstration video.

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What New Zealand Can Offer to the World Other than Dairy Products, Meat, Wine and Tourism

New Zealand sheep industry

New Zealand

I’m sure dairy products, meat and wine would be on top of the list when you think about New Zealand, not to mention sheep, deer and cows.

For its scenic sites from the North Island to South Island, New Zealand has become the world’s popular tourist destination.

The location shooting of popular movies like “Lord of the Rings” and the “Hobbit” boosted the country’s popularity.

Lake Tekapo NZ

New Zealand is readily identified with rugby, sailing, shot put, and rowing. The country won medals in international competitions on these sports events.

She has been listed several times in the top ten of the world for such categories as “safest country” and “most liveable country”.

These are just some of the popular things people around the world might say or think about New Zealand.

Do you know there is more to New Zealand than the popular perceptions mentioned above?

Being located far from the rest of the nations of the world except Australia, New Zealand is an innovative nation in many learning areas. Creativity and inventiveness is not limited to agriculture, manufacturing and education only.

Auckland Harbour Bridge by Karl Hipolito

Auckland Harbour Bridge by Karl Hipolito

Infrastructure management is one area where the Kiwis excel in terms of ideas and best practices. The country has institutionalised infrastructure management planning in her laws since 1990.

This paved way for generating and pioneering best practices and development of infrastructure management techniques.

As we all know, infrastructure has important role in the economic development of a country; service supports the constituents and society.

Thus, its management needs to be strategically planned, maintenance and risks management programs faithfully implemented, alongside wise allocation of fiscal and logistical resources of local and national government units.

As a nation established much later than other nations in America and Europe, New Zealand found herself developing best practices in infrastructure construction and management based on lessons learned from older developed countries.

NZ Asset Management Support, in partnership with asset management organisations and experts of Australia and NZ, created the International Infrastructure Management Manual. This is to ensure that best practices and standards are institutionalized and implemented among partner countries.

Renewable Energy Projects Key To Infrastructure Resilience in Disaster Areas of the Philippines?

Solar Panel at Bayas, Estancia 2

Infrastructure ResilienceWhen Typhoon Yolanda battered Northern Iloilo on 8 November, it brought much havoc to Estancia, including Bayas Island, which is 8 kilometers off the town.

Amidst the surrounding destruction in the island, the solar panel that Central Philippine University Affiliated Renewable Energy Center (CPU-AREC) installed in 2001 remains standing and functioning.

Typhoon Yolanda blew off four of its solar panels but the installation remains intact. Thus, the village folks are able to charge their batteries after the storm.

In 2001, CPU-AREC implemented the Department of Energy’s ‘O-Ilaw Program’, a barangay electrification program (BEP).

Infrastructure Resilience

They were coordinating with Centralian, Peal Martin Ruiz who was with DOE at that time and in-charge of the BEP projects in three of Estancia’s island barangays – Loguingot, Manipulon and Bayas.

According to Engr. Jeriel Militar, CPU-AREC Program Manager, in small island barangays like Bayas where there are no water source for micro-hydro, they installed the PV-BCS (PV-Barangay Charging Stations).

He said that part of the program was providing storage batteries to households, which they repay on installment basis.

The households use batteries for lighting and using small appliances. They recharge their batteris at the PV-BCS.

Engr. Militar said that eventually, not only the households came to recharge their batteries. Motorboat owners also used the PV-BCS for recharging their fishing boat’s batteries.


In Badiangan, a mountain barangay of Ajuy, Iloilo, the micro-hydro power plant that CPU-AREC installed in 2004 has become an example of infrastructure resilience.

Surviving the storm, it continues to provide electricity for its member-consumers.

Ajuy is one of the towns in Northern Iloilo that suffered the wrath of Typhoon Yolanda. It will take three months or more for electricity to be restored in Ajuy.

Engr. Militar said that a resident of Badiangan told him that those residents who transferred to ILECO III (local power supplier) wanted to rejoin the micro-hydro power group.


In Sebaste, one of the typhoon-affected towns of Antique, the loss of power made some people go to Sitio Igpatuyao to charge their mobile phones.

The micro-hydro power plant that CPU-AREC helped build at Sitio Igpatuyao in 2009 withstood the storm and is functioning fully.


The CPU-AREC (formerly CPU-ANEC) has been in the forefront for renewable energy development and application in Western Visayas and some areas in the Philippines since 1996.

They have accomplished 78 projects, which include 44 solar systems, 2 wind-solar hybrids, and 1 micro-hydro-solar hybrid.

The aftermath of Typhoon Yolanda resulted into failure of infrastructure systems like potable water, highways and electric power. Without these infrastructures functioning well, the recovery process will be slow.

With CPU-AREC’s renewable energy projects showing infrastructure resilience after Typhoon Yolanda, perhaps the government and private sectors should consider including the putting up of renewable energy projects in their rebuild plans.


INFORMATION CREDIT: Engr. Jeriel Militar
PHOTO CREDIT: Marigold Jutare

Why Civil Engineering Remains a Bright and Lucrative Course

civil engineering career

I read an article titled “Philippine Government Increases Infrastructure Expenditure to 5% of GDP in 2014 – Is This Enough?” and realised that Civil Engineering is a good course of choice.

Do you know why?

  • The Philippine Government has earmarked $9.24 billion (3% of GDP) for infrastructure spending in the 2014 budget.
  • Infrastructure spending will increase to 5% in the next two years or at $13.57 billion and $19.05 billion in 2015 and 2016, respectively

Now, this is only as far as Philippines is concerned.

Read this article “Why Infrastructure Management is Important“, and you will notice how much the countries in regions of the world will be spending annually for infrastructures.

According to the World Bank Infrastructure Strategy Update chart, the annual infrastructure spending of some world regions is 7% of GDP or between $45.3 to $207 billion dollars.

Also, with most developing and third-world countries struggling for integrity, the World Bank would be needing honest and skilled civil engineers who would supervise all these infrastructure program implementation around the world.

Now, consider this.

For all the infrastructures these countries will be building as they cope with population and development, the role of infrastructure management or infrastructure asset management experts are valuable.

CLICKING on the image below will direct you to a post that will provide snippets of infrastructure management learning in the Philippine context.

Philippine Government Increases Infrastructure Expenditure to 5  of GDP in 2014 – Inframanage


Study at Central Philippine University.

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Finding Solution to Flooding at CPU Lopez Jaena Street through Infrastructure Management

inframanage

infrastructure management infrastructure managementIf you have studied and lived in Iloilo City, particularly at CPU, then I’m sure you have experienced the flood that’s been as perennial as when the rainy season comes.
When monsoon rains come, students anticipate the coming of the flood because they’re sure the Jaro River will overflow.

Classes would then be postponed for a day or couple of days depending on the amount of flood waters, debris and how fast the clean-up would be.

When there were few people around Lopez Jaena area and surroundings were cleaner, students just love to wade and walk the flooded streets and inside CPU campus.

The familiar flood scene would then be some female students wearing their shortest shorts walking while male students at their best spot watching and talking who’s got the hottest legs in campus.

It’s not advisable to do that nowadays.

The clogged drainage, old and leaking sewer and sewage systems (if there’s one), bad waste disposal and waste management practices make wading into the flood unhealthy and could even be fatal.

Flooding problem complications

Through the years, Lopez Jaena Street is not only beset with flooding that occurs annually (or biennially) courtesy of the monsoon rains.

The last time I was in the area, waste water seems to flow continuously onto the street from homes and business establishements. Also, a few minutes of raining would cause flooding in several portions along Lopez Jaena Street. I hope that the situation had changed.

infrastructure management

Checking the water level during the August 2009 flood.

Storm sewers are either dysfunctional or having been designed and constructed decades ago, it can’t convey the amount of runoff anymore.

At the onset, had the city government instituted water utility infrastructure management, they could have built the infrastructure design that meets future changes in population and public needs.

There are many factors being considered in sewer designs, let me mention two factors that could have been considered:

Student population growth

CPU student enrolment grew from 9,132 in 1997 to 13,506 in 2005. From then on, student population never went below the 10,000 mark. The 2013 enrolment is 13,000 students.

Of course, this is discounting the resident population along Lopez Jaena Street and across the Jaro river bank, which could number to several thousands.

Rise of businesses

Along with the growth of student population, hotels, dormitories, boarding houses proliferated.

Eateries, convenience stores and business establishments along Lopez Jaena Street have become the dominant sight.

Just imagine the implication of these two factors in water needs and waste water volume.

Ideal infrastructure management scenario

Perhaps decades ago, when there were more open spaces and a few hundred people living around CPU, our city infrastructure management services engineers should have given weight on the future changes.

Maintenance or even renewal of infrastructures could have been quite manageable fiscally and structurally.

Now, it would cost millions to construct and update the present sewer and sewerage system along Central Philippine University and Lopez Jaena.

Also, following best infrastructure management practice, holistic and not piecemeal solution to infrastructure problems must be emphasized.

Infrastructure management engineers might not recommend fixing the infrastructure challenges along Lopez Jaena Street and CPU areas without thinking of its implication to the total system of Jaro District in particular and Iloilo City in general.

Nevertheless, it’s not yet too late to get infrastructure management expert counsel save millions of infrastructure funds.

For more learning on infrastructure management and infrastructure asset management, please browse this resource site: INFRAMANAGE.COM