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The drive to include wellfield systems in overall utility water supply asset management has been a welcome development, logical, long overdue, and can be challenging.
The processes of asset management (including the preventive maintenance component) of “top-side” systems of water utilities is rather mature, based in design, material selection and other application of corrosion engineering (inspection, coatings, cathodic protection, etc.). Water treatment plant components are designed to be accessible and repairable/renewable, and increasingly equipped with in-line sensory systems. Water line installations are corrosion-resistant and lifespans and stresses well-known. Water tower maintenance is likewise a mature discipline. Costing and amortization of such systems is well-known.
Much of the above for the “top-side” systems is likewise true for wells and their associated systems (well pumps, controls, power systems, and the raw-water connection system). However, wellfields are often viewed as mysterious or “a different animal” compared to pressure and distribution systems.
Three features set wellfields apart:
Combined with typical water systems operations and management unfamiliarity with wells and hydrogeology, asset management of wellfields may seem daunting, and best left to specialists with special techniques.
A lack of familiarity with wells and the hydrogeologic environment may lead to being tempted by “special techniques” or “silver bullets”
While innovation is always to be encouraged, the ground water exploration and supply field has long been an attractive one for selling “special techniques” (going back to dowsing or water-witching) because of the “mystery” of ground-water supply.
The special conditions of wells (difficult to inspect and access, intimate with the “wild”, and frustrating to maintain sometimes) may make “special techniques” such as specialized maintenance treatments, attractive when sold as an all-purpose cure.
If attracted to “special techniques”: Insist on real-world data histories. Does it become less effective over time? What does it really cost over the years? How do you know it works? Only one vendor?
In reality – the strategies for maintaining above-ground assets is true for wells: Predict, monitor, inspect, treat at intervals, budget – these techniques work. It is rational and works on your budget.
We evaluate your situation, recommend immediate steps, and teach how to manage your wellfield in the long run, just like you manage your above-ground system – without “magic”.
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