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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

New Orleans Achieves Stronger Infrastructure Resilience thru the IHNC Surge Barrier

Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier

Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier

The catastrophic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005 provide many lessons on infrastructure resilience. The threat of storm surges remains because of the city’s average elevation level is six feet (or almost 2 meters) below sea level and being bodies of water surround the city.

In 2005, the 28-foot storm surge that Hurricane Katrina created left some areas of New Orleans flooded. There were breaches on the floodwall due to foundation failure and water over topping the levees.

Learning from Hurricane Katrina experience, New Orleans and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Hurricane and Storm Damage Risk Reduction System embarked on the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier or IHNC Surge Barrier project.

Its construction begun in 2008, and with an aggressive four-year timeline to beat. Despite many complications and technical challenges, the barrier was completed ahead of time in 2011. Construction cost reached $1.1 billion. It’s was a simultaneous design and build civil work project.

The IHNC Lake Borgne Surge Barrier is one of the largest civil works project designed and constructed in the US Army Corp’s history. It extends through the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet near New Orleans.

Inner Harbor Navigation Canal Surge Barrier

It was designed to reduce the effect of storm surge and prevents damage to the most vulnerable areas around New Orleans. The barrier specifically protects the surrounding area against storm surge coming from the Gulf of Mexico and Lake Borgne.

The structure consists of three gates that allow vessel passage through a concrete barrier wall, 10,000 feet long and 26 feet high. There’s a complete floodwall closure of the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet. The Seabrook Floodgate was also constructed, another navigation gate in the vicinity of Seabrook that meets and blocks possible storm surge from the Lake Ponchartrain.

With the breaches repaired and fortified, the level of protection in New Orleans is much better than any time in their entire history. The New Orlean’s surge barrier proved its mettle and served its purpose when Hurricane Isaac came in August 2012.

With its complex structural design, the edifice stands as an infrastructure resilience landmark.  This year, the infrastructure garnered the 2014 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement (OCEA) Award by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Achieving 100-year storm criteria, IHNC is now considered the model of floodgate and floodwall designs all over the world. Now an infrastructure resilience icon, the IHNC Surge Barrier has become the pride of Louisiana and the US.

Calamities will continue to challenge civilization but with infrastructure management experts providing resilience plans and strategies, risks are significantly reduced.

PHOTO CREDIT: Seacity2100; American Society of Civil Engineers

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


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

Published on the 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.


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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Top 10 International Tourist Destinations Part 2

travel and tourism This is article is the second part, which covers the top 5 of 10 popular tourist destinations of the world.

Travelling can mean differently to people. For some it is a necessary part of work, a lifestyle for some, and for most of us a luxury or a treat. It is almost a single activity that engages all our senses.

Visiting beautiful places has never been as accessible and affordable as it is today.

Thanks to breakthroughs in science and technology. Modern transportation has made travelling fast and safe.

Here are the top 5 of the 10 most visited tourist destinations in the world.


No. 5 – Italy

No wonder this country is called Bel Paesa or beautiful country. Its annual visitors of 43.2 million come to Italy for its fine art, history, fashion, and culture.

With most of the world heritage sites, Italy has drawn more history lovers from all over world than any other countries.

Don’t forget Italy is the home of delectable pizzas, pastas and gelato which are gastronomic treats for the so inclined.

Rome, Venice, and Florence are its famous cities of Art. Italy also has its share of scenic coasts, mountains, and lakes.

Topping its tourist destination is the beautiful Canals of Venice, the crown jewel of water cities.

PHOTO CREDIT:   Karl Hipolito’s PhotoStream

No. 4 – China

Great Wall China

China boasts of 50.9 million tourist each year despite becoming more known as controversial economic giant.

Since the beginning of China’s reform and opening over the last few decades it has seen expansion in its tourism industry.

What contributes to its tourism boom is the country’s increasing middle class and the government’s loosening restrictions of movement.

The Great Wall of China is still its hottest tourist destination. People from all over the world just love to visit this ancient wall.

No. 3 – Spain

Spain Bullfight

With an annual visitors of more than 52 million, Spain seize the Top 3 tourist destination in the world.

Spain used to be a popular summer destination for visitors from Portugal, Central Europe, the British Isles, and France.

Spain’s most visited city is Madrid and Barcelona people come here for various reasons most notably for entertainment, fashion, sports, and the arts.

Running of the Bulls, is one of the most popular events in Spain that attracts millions of tourists. It is held annually in Pamplona a city in Navarra.

The San Fermin festival is celebrated every year from July 6 to 14, where running with a dozen bulls is the climax of the festivity.

No. 2 – USA

Broadway Time Square NY

The US boasts of more than 54 million tourists each year but it covers 50 states. Where does one starts when traveling to the United States?

Each state seem to have its unique culture and distinct experience to offer.

The United States is melting pot of various cultures and thus, contributes to its diverse cities and attractions that are a challenge to narrow down.

The best advice for a tourist or traveller is to travel by instinct or go with the crowd.

Topping the charts for its most visited city is unsurprisingly the Times Square in New York City. After this, there are still hundreds of places to see and experience around the states.

Depending on what you dig, America has it. From the bright neon lights of Las Vegas with its bouncy night life to the tamer and benign pleasures of Disney World’s Magic Kingdom in Florida.

If you’re into history and sciences then there’s the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

There are so many and much to see and do in this country. So prepare to stay for longer time to cover more ground.

No. 1 – France

Paris France

France have more than 74 million visitors each year. Its most popular destinations are Paris, French Riviera, and Provence.

A visit to Paris the capital city of France is incomplete without going to the Louvre, a most visited art museum in the world.

Of course there is also the Musée d’Orsay and the Beaubourg equally popular stopovers for the art enthusiasts.

The French Riviera boasts of 115 kilometres of coastline and beaches, 18 golf courses, 14 ski resorts and thousands of restaurants.

Getting 300 days of sunshine a year it attracts more than 10 million tourists per year. This is a haven for those willing to pay for the finer things in life.

For nature lovers or travellers looking for a break from a bustling urban scene Provence is just the right place. The Gorges du Verdon and other natural parks provides a laid back provincial feel and historical sights.

There you have the top 10 international tourist destinations.

Brief descriptions of each destination are just teasers meant to whet your appetite for travel. The world is a mystery and an adventure waiting for you to explore.

Again, these top 10 tourist destination share one thing in common. They invest on building infrastructures to cater to millions of visitors each year.

To ensure that infrastructure outlay are best spent and quality edifices are put up, one could just wonder if their government implements a comprehensive infrastructure management scheme considering that the tourism industry is there to stay.

Perhaps one could ask, does each country have effective infrastructure asset management program so that both its citizen and tourists are using efficient and well-maintained infrastructure?

[note note_color=”#ffd700″ text_color=”#0028ff” radius=”10″]Please feel free to share your travel experiences if you’ve toured or visited any of the places mentioned above. Write your account into the comment box at the bottom of this post. Thank you.[/note]

Top 10 International Tourist Destinations Part 1

World Destinations by Jade Mark Jarbadan

Whether you are a seasoned traveller, a hesitant one, or still daydreaming about your first adventure this article will be helpful to you.

Travel can mean differently to people. For some it is a necessary part of an occupation or career, some as a passion or hobby, while to others or most, a luxury.

When I was a child, I used to hear people say that the cheapest way to travel is by reading books. Now, there is another way to do it.

In the safe and comfort of your house, with just a computer and internet connection you can travel the world through Google earth or Google maps.

Think about this, a couple of decades ago maps as we know it were just the outline of the landmass and countries on a flat piece of paper.

Well, except maybe for some government intelligence agency where satellites orbiting in the exosphere some 130 miles from earth are used to explore an area or country of interest.

Anyway, nothing is more exciting than real travelling. Planning your trip and charting your course are activities that could heighten and engage all the senses.

Whether you’re travelling in your imagination or looking forward to a trip around the world, here are the Top 10 Tourist destinations of the World.

PHOTO CREDIT: Jade Mark Jarbadan

No. 10 – Mexico

Mexico - Mayan Pyramid

With some 21.5 million visitors each year Mexico has the no. 10 spot as the most visited countries in the world. Its ranks second of the most visited country in the Americas just after the USA.

Tourists are attracted by its Meso-American ruins, colonial cities, cultural festivals, and beach resorts.

The peak tourism season is in December and summer months, particularly before and during the Easter when lots of colourful festivities are taking place. Spring break visitors are mostly students from the United States and Canada heading out to the beautiful beaches to chill out from school.

Majority of visitors are from the US and Canada and some from European and Asian countries. A small portion of tourists are from their neighbouring Latin American countries. Affluent and middle class Mexicans also prefers to spend holidays in their country while some middle and higher class travel overseas.

No. 9 – Malaysia

Petronas Tower Malaysia

With a yearly 23.6 million visitors, Malaysia’s tourism capitalizes on its diverse culture, beautiful and eco-friendly holiday destinations.

One of its most popular attractions is the Petronas Twin Towers, an 88 storey building, which at present the tallest twin tower in the world and a picture of modern architecture.

The country’s promotional effort in 2006 which initiated them to sign a deal with Manchester United worth 2£ million for “Visit Malaysia Year 2007” tourism promotion and prior to that a successful deal with Chealsea Football Club, a top tier English football based in Fulham, London had enormously bolstered Malaysia’s tourism.

No. 8 – Germany

Neuschwanstein Castle Bavaria Germany

According to Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Reports, Germany is among the top safest travel destinations in the world with over 24.2 million yearly tourist to boast. Majority of visitors hails from the Netherlands, United States, and Switzerland.

Germany is at the heart of Europe, historically visitors come for academic and recreational purposes. Now visitors are still fascinated by the country’s architectural treasures and fascinating places of natural beauty.

Its number one tourist destination being the Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany’s fairytale castle famous for its romantic architecture and for the tragic story of its owner.

No. 7 – Turkey

Istanbul Turkey

It might be the Turkish seaside resorts along the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea and its various historical sites that is responsible for its 25.5 million tourists per year.

Most of its visitors come from Germany, Russia, UK, Netherlands, France, Italy, Arab World, and Japan while some are from the Northern Americas and Scandinavia.

Istanbul is its most popular tourist destination featuring several mosques, colourful bazaars, and Turkish baths that can keep busy throughout your trip. Their rich and colourful carpets in the bazaars grabs your attention as well as the common haggling over one before a purchase.

No. 6 – United Kingdom

Big Ben London

There are so much to do when visiting this country, the list just goes on and on this is probably one reason why the 28 million tourists can’t get enough of Britain and just had to go back each year.

One way to go about your trip is to visit huge old castles rich with history and legends.

There are world-famous gardens that begs your attention and time as well. UK’s dynamic arts and culture evident in the architecture of buildings, bustling markets, idyllic countryside, and just in the everyday life of its residents is an attraction itself.

So what makes these countries very popular to tourists? Is their famous sites the only factor? Would you consider facilities, accommodations, food and friendly people contributing to their popularity?

A common factor among these top tourist destinations is there infrastructure in place, how the old and new infrastructure blend together is art and evidence of very satisfactory infrastructure management in place.

Know the Top 5 International Tourist Destinations in the world in part 2 of this article.


[note note_color=”#ffd700″ text_color=”#0028ff” radius=”10″]Please feel free to share your travel experiences if you’ve toured or visited any of the places mentioned above. Write your account into the comment box at the bottom of this post. Thank you.[/note]