About Clean Water Council
The Clean Water Council (CWC) is a group of national organizations representing underground construction contractors design professionals, manufacturers and suppliers, labor unions and other committed to ensuring a high quality of life through sound environmental infrastructure. Working in concert, CWC's 39 national organizations, advocate federal legislation and policies that will promote clean water and improve the nation's failing infrastructure.
What is the Definition of Sustainable Underground Infrastructure?1-Pipe Materials must last a minimum of 100 years regardless of corrosion issues with minimum maintenance and maintain a low main break rate. (When 30 year debt is issued, taxpayers should have a ROI expectation of not replacing the asset at a 3:1 ratio.)
2-Sustainable Operational Procedures should be applied which includes GIS technology, hydraulic modeling, asset management and security best practices. (Man-made operational errors should be eliminated and poor operational network designs should be continually monitored and corrected to remain sustainable.)
Sustainable and Affordable Policies should include: Utilities should inspect all installations and expect long-term material limited warranties. (Approving officials should not have product failure liabilities default to the utility after 1 year.)Non-corrosive materials should be used in corrosive environments. Open procurement practices with supporting financial analysis.
Sustainability has an important place in today’s infrastructure. Too often we are seeing failing products that are used over and over again. There is a lot of waste in the current system in the sense that we are comfortable with products that have been used for the past 30 years, even in some cases 80 years and feel uneasy about new products entering the market. Even if the products are superior and even longer lasting. In the Sewer manhole world, for example, there are areas with very high H2S and corrosive environments. We see concrete manholes being used most in the Sewer industry but yet concrete is susceptible to corrosion and failure; in some cases only after a few years. We have chosen to rely upon epoxy coatings, and PVC liners as the defense against corrosion in Sewer manholes. Unfortunately, Epoxy coatings don’t always adhere to the concrete or pinholes allow for corrosion behind the coating. PVC liners fail due to un-welded or improperly welded seams, pinholes, or infiltration and delaminate from the concrete walls and failure ensues. Yet, every day we as an industry keep using these products! There are alternatives, Polymer Concrete Manholes. They are fully structural, entirely corrosive resistant, and yet cost only a fraction more than a coated or PVC lined manhole. It is a system that carries a 50 year insurance bonded limited warranty against corrosion. In that same lifecycle you could replace a coated manhole three to five times, and incur three to five times the cost. That equates to thousands and thousands of dollars that could have been used elsewhere if a sustainable system was installed for the first application. The right product, for the right environment, even if it’s upfront cost is slightly more. It will save owners thousands of dollars. I agree with Greg, that if there is open procurement practices and supportive financial analysis, we will find small step up in investment upfront can have a long-term ROI to the taxpayer 3 fold.
Concrete manholes have been a hot bed of safety, environmental and expensive maintenance issues. Sewer manholes placed every 100-500 feet under our streets is a huge cost issue to deal with. The last thing anyone needs to do is to disrupt traffic to continuely repair these with bandaid fixes. If a Polymer Manhole can be installed upfront by developers or used to replace existing failing manholes then there could be an asset management cost savings for the life cycle of the product and a cost savings associated with ongoing maintenance also. I assume a cost avoidance for street work and overlay would also occur in conjunction with a societal savings with less traffic and business operations. What sizes and depths are available for Polymer Manholes?