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WASA maps its pipelines
The Water and Sewerage Authority (WASA) has successfully developed a database that highlights the present condition of all pipelines in T&T. The project, headed by WASA’s deputy general manager of operations Steve Joseph who supervised a team of six employees, which began in 2009, has been able to map, categorise, document and record all of WASA’s transmission and distribution pipelines that comprise the authority’s entire water supply network.
Had the company contracted a firm to undertake this 18-month project, WASA would have had to fork out over $5 million. Although WASA had some records of its pipelines, it lacked a proper system for data management and categorisation, the authority’s communications manager Ellen Lewis explained.
The first 27-inch steel transmission pipeline was laid in 1853, from the Maraval reservoir on Saddle Road, to provide water in Port-of-Spain and its environs. The objective of the exercise was to highlight the need for an upgraded and modernised pipeline-distribution network that will ultimately meet the increasing challenge of providing a potable water supply to citizens of T&T at a reasonable cost. WASA produces 220 million gallons of water daily.
WASA’s pipeline network in Trinidad comprises 6,160 kilometres of mains, ranging in size from two to 54 inches in diameter, which supply an estimated 450,000 residents in north and south Trinidad. The findings of the exercise showed that 53 per cent of WASA’s PVC, ductile iron, steel and high density polyethylene pipelines are in good condition.
The remaining 47 per cent of cast iron, galvanise wrought iron, asbestos cement and grey PVC are in need of either upgrading or replacement, which will be undertaken. The project showed that 72 per cent of Tobago’s 406.8 kilometres of pipelines are in a good state, with 25 per cent in need of replacement or upgrade. The other three per cent will cater for expansion of the network to include first-time customers.
Past and present employees consulted
Joseph and his team were presented with trophies and cash rewards by Public Utilities Minister Emmanuel George and the company’s CEO Ganga Singh at WASA’s headquarters in St Joseph on June 15. Joseph said the company could not have done it without consulting with WASA’s past and present employees.
“We spent a lot of time going out with retired and current workers, ranging from managers to daily-paid craftsmen, who explained where the pipelines were buried. That was the genesis of the whole exercise. With that information we were able to determine the conditional status of the pipelines.” The information also revealed that pipelines in north Trinidad are in far better condition than in Central and South.
The database, Joseph said, now provides a platform for pipeline projects to be implemented in a structured way where benefits can be targeted to areas most critically in need. The authority, Lewis said, is currently embarking on a 20-month water development programme that caters to major refurbishment works at its main production facilities and the replacement of its larger transmission pipelines.
“The recently commissioned Navet transmission main, the dualling of Caroni South Trunk main, the change-out of the 37 kilometres of Hollis North and South 24-inch transmission main and the installation of seven kilometres of 16-inch ductile iron main in Tobago from Courland to Buccoo are just some of the macro projects being implemented,” Lewis said.
Lewis said citizens have to bear in mind that when these projects are finished “we are going to transfer water in large quantities. So we have to ensure that distribution mains are in a state of readiness and that we do not bring a whole set of water from one area to another with leaks.” As the authority moves towards providing a reliable water service to its customers, Lewis said the successful implementation of these projects cannot be understated.
Areas targeted can now include
• Areas where water mains have a history of frequent breakages or leakage. The change-out of these mains would translate into long-term cost savings to the authority.
• Areas where the hydraulic capacities of mains have outgrown demand. The change-out of these mains will bring immediate relief to customers.
• Areas where water mains have exceeded their life cycle.
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