The PCWASA Board awarded a low bid of $404,380 to Vac Vision Environmental to continue manhole rehabilitation within the Authority’s sewer system.
With extensive data collected on the condition of PCWASA sewer lines and manholes by RedZone Robotics, the Authority Board has approved the next phase of manhole rehabilitation for the utility’s sewer collection system.
During its June Board Meeting, the PCWASA Board awarded a low bid of $404,380 to Vac Vision Environmental. Authority engineering consultants from Integrated Science and Engineering (ISE) prepared the drawings and specifications for this project, which involve the rehab or repair of 215 of the remaining 629 manholes in need of maintenance.
Authority appropriations for this project come from the FY 2017 Renewal & Extension Budget, which consists of ratepayer dollars invested back into the system to improve sewer collection, conveyance and treatment services, for the benefit of PCWASA customers.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.
Data collected by RedZone Robotics identified PCWASA manholes in need of repair. The utility then invested approximately $339,000 to rehabilitate 214 manholes within the sewer system.
The Peachtree City Water and Sewerage Authority (PCWASA) continually invests in upgrades to its system, in order to improve the reliability and efficiency of its sewer collection and treatment services for more than 10,500 customers.
The latest evidence of system upgrades comes in the completion of rehabilitation on 211 manholes, which were previously in poor or failing condition. The utility’s manhole rehabilitation project is ongoing, but with this first phase completed, the Authority has addressed some of the most vulnerable parts of its sewer system.
The manholes most in need of repair were identified following a nearly two-year study conducted by RedZone Robotics to assess the condition and functionality of the entire PCWASA sewer system. The results of the RedZone YES (Your Entire System) program allowed the Authority to categorize the sewer system’s manholes according to four conditions – rating them as either good, adequate, poor, or critical.
To categorize those manholes in most need of repair, the PCWASA staff and consulting engineers from CH2M Hill poured through the extensive, detailed data collected by RedZone Robotics. The PCWASA staff brought the additional engineering expertise in for data analysis in order to expedite the first and most critical phase of the manhole rehabilitation project.
In October of last year, following the recommendation of the utility’s staff and project engineers from Integrated Science & Engineering (ISE), the PCWASA Board of Directors awarded the contract for this first phase of the manhole rehabilitation to Enviro Trenchless, LCC. This contractor provided the Authority with the low bid of $339,000, among the five qualifying bids.
Work on the manhole repairs began last November and was completed this summer. Some of the specifics of the contract included surface preparation, manhole leak repair, rebuilding manhole pipe seal, invert, bench and wall when needed, repair of the manhole chimney, including grade adjustment, and providing cement liners and coating. Approximately 5 percent of the manholes within this first phase of rehab needed to be replaced completely.
To assure that sewer services went uninterrupted during the rehabilitation process, the Authority contractors also provided bypass pumping of sanitary sewers in the areas of the system where manholes were under repair.
Authority officials note that the project was completed without incident and within budget, and the results should begin to pay immediate dividends for customers in the form of more reliable performance of the sewer system.
“This is an example of a project that’s out of sight and out of mind for most customers, but no less important to the efficient operation of our system,” says Stephen Hogan, PCWASA General Manager. “I’m thankful for the foresight of our board to allocate the funding to complete this work, and for the dedication of our staff to oversee a long and laborious process – from the collection and analysis of data to identify the condition of our entire system, to the safe and successful completion of this first phase of manhole rehabilitation.”
By investing in the rehabilitation of these manholes that were in the poorest condition, the Authority will improve its wastewater collection and treatment efficiency through the reduction of inflow and infiltration of storm water into the sewer system.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.
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An example of system repairs that were considered urgent as a result of data collected through the RedZone YES Program condition assessment is the rehab work on an 8-inch sewer line that was completed recently at Commerce Drive.
The buzz of the many RedZone Solo Unmanned Inspection Robots that traversed the PCWASA sewer system has been replaced by the hum of computers that have been carefully analyzing the video and related data collected.
As the RedZone YES (Your Entire System) Program nears completion in Peachtree City, the Authority will be rehabilitating manholes and sewer lines within the PCWASA system according to a schedule that follows maintenance priorities, with facilities in the worst condition receiving immediate attention from crews in the field.
With the analysis of RedZone data completed for all of the nearly 4,000 manholes within the PCWASA system, the Authority categorized the condition of each manhole on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 representing a manhole in failing condition and 5 revealing a manhole in excellent condition. No manholes were categorized in either of these conditions. Rather, 78 were found to be in poor condition (a rating of 2) and 689 more were found to be in fair condition (a condition of 3). The majority of manholes (3,237) were found to be in good condition.
During this fiscal year, the Authority has budgeted approximately $365,000 to rehabilitate all 78 manholes that are in the worst of the various conditions. In addition, dollars will be available to rehab 100 of the 689 that are in fair condition. Over the course of the next few years, PCWASA will be able to rehabilitate all of its existing manholes in need of repair.
In addition to completing the condition assessment of PCWASA manholes, the Authority and its consulting engineers from CH2M Hill will complete the data analysis on the condition of all of the system’s sewer lines – a report that should wrap up this spring.
However, as the results of the condition assessment have come in, the Authority has moved forward with rehab of sewer lines that were in dire need of repair. An example of rehab work identified by the RedZone Program is the pipe bursting and pipe replacement project that has benefitted approximately 50 residents in the Pebble Stump area of the West Park basin. This portion of the PCWASA system used to contain older clay pipe that dated 50 years – a time prior to the Authority’s founding as a utility to oversee the sewer system for the citizens of Peachtree City.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.
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A RedZone Solo Unmanned Robot inspects a PCWASA sewer line. RedZone has completed the assessment of all smaller sewer lines within the PCWASA system, as robots now move to review the condition of larger sewer mains and manholes.
Gather the intel and rehab the infrastructure. It’s a two-step process that keeps contractors and crews from the Peachtree City Water and Sewerage Authority (PCWASA) busy taking care of the community’s sewer system.
This necessary work in the field is made easier, more efficient and more cost-effective thanks to technologies and innovations utilized by PCWASA in both the condition assessment and rehabilitation phases of its capital improvement plan.
To get an idea of “how big is big and how bad is bad,” in the words of PCWASA General Manager Stephen Hogan, the Authority contracted with RedZone Robotics, headquartered in the robotics hotbed of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, to implement the vendor’s Y.E.S. (Your Entire System) Program. This complete system review includes data gathering, software, and inspection services that will aid in the Authority’s prioritization and execution of an aggressive rehabilitation and capital improvement plan.
According to Keisha Lisbon-Thorpe, PCWASA Division Manager of Technical Services, RedZone crews have completed all of the condition assessment of the smaller sewer lines of the utility’s system – those pipes between 8 inches and 12 inches in diameter. These smaller lines were inspected using the RedZone Solo Unmanned Inspection Robots, which are lightweight systems with onboard intelligence and full coverage tracking, capable of moving upstream or downstream at the touch of a control.
As a result, the Solo Robots are able to collect data at a quicker pace than what would be possible with any other method or innovation available in the industry. Authority officials estimate that it would take 15 years to inspect, via conventional methods, what RedZone Robots can do in 15 months, which happens to be the extent of the company’s professional services contract with PCWASA. In fact, RedZone is ahead of schedule and within budget since this condition assessment work kicked off in April, notes Lisbon-Thorpe.
Now that the review of all of the smaller sewer lines within the PCWASA system has been completed, RedZone has moved on to condition assessment of the utility’s manholes and larger sewer mains. The Authority has approximately 4,000 manholes as well as 171 miles of gravity sewer mains and 15 miles of force mains to assess. Approximately 56 percent of the manholes and 60 percent of the larger diameter sewer lines have been reviewed to date, says Lisbon-Thorpe.
Once the condition of the Authority’s infrastructure has been evaluated, with the help of RedZone Robots, work can begin on rehabilitation, when and where necessary. An example of a recent sewer system rehab/capital project took place at the Planterra Ridge Golf Course in Peachtree City, where PCWASA contractors utilized Cured In Place Pipe (CIPP) Installation to repair aging sewer lines in an environmentally friendly and cost effective manner.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.
Garden City, Georgia officials Ron Feldner, P.E. (left), Assistant City Manager, and Charles Draeger (center), Director of Water Operations, chat with RedZone crew leader Dean Young about the use of RedZone robots for sewer system condition assessment.
If imitation is the best form of flattery, then the Peachtree City Water and Sewerage Authority (PCWASA) should be flattered from the inquiry it has received from fellow utilities and municipal public works professionals about its RedZone project. This successful initiative to investigate the condition of the PCWASA sewer system, and collect valuable data for prioritizing rehabilitation and capital projects, has the Authority looking like an innovator that others aim to emulate.
This summer, PCWASA officials have welcomed visitors from the governments of Garden City, Georgia, as well as the City of Columbus and Augusta Utilities. They all have come to ask questions about the use of RedZone’s robotics technology, while observing the efficiency and accuracy of RedZone robots in the field. At present, these technological innovations are busy rolling through the PCWASA sewer lines and collection mains to inspect the structural integrity of the Authority’s infrastructure that serves approximately 11,000 customers.
During the PCWASA August Board Meeting, Keisha Lisbon Thorpe, the Authority’s Division Manager of Technical Services, reported that the RedZone project was well ahead of schedule and past the halfway point, as work has been “progressing along nicely and without incident,” she notes. The RedZone robots have been averaging data collection on approximately 5,700 linear feet per day, a pace even more efficient than originally anticipated. To date, the robotics technology has inspected approximately 470,000 linear feet of sewer lines; as a result, RedZone has completed 58 percent of the project, several months in advance of where the project was expected to be at this point.
The Authority joined forces earlier this year with RedZone Robotics, a contractor located in Pittsburgh, PA, which is a hotbed of robotics research and development. Their work featuring the RedZone Solo Unmanned Inspection Robots, which are lightweight systems with onboard intelligence and full coverage tracking, began in mid-April. The robots are able to collect data at such a rate that their efficiency and accuracy is unmatched in the industry, say Authority officials. What will take the robots to collect and inspect in a year, would take more than a decade to accomplish via other conventional data collection and inspection methods, such as manual review or televising lines.
Within the terms of the contract between PCWASA and RedZone, the work has been scheduled for seven days per week, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Having completed more than half of the inspection and data collection already, the project is on pace to be completed several months prior to the 15-month original timeline. Thus, fellow utilities and water/sewer industry professionals should be mindful of one thing – if they want to see RedZone robots in action within the PCWASA sewer system, they better hurry up. This project is on pace to be completed well ahead of schedule and still within budget.
“We are flattered when others want to see our work, to learn more about the innovations and technologies we are using to improve our system and operations for the benefit of our customers,” says Stephen Hogan, General Manager of PCWASA, who as a professional engineer with industry and utility work experience understands the importance of information exchange between professionals. “We welcomed the recent visits we have had from those interested in our RedZone project, and hope they may gather insights that aid in their decision making in the future.”
Chris Wood, Ph.D.
Over the course of the next year or so, Peachtree City residents most likely will be unaware of the modern marvel at work beneath their feet, thanks to a partnership between the Peachtree City Water and Sewerage Authority (PCWASA) and RedZone Robotics. RedZone’s advances of science may resemble science fiction, but will no doubt gather valuable facts and data to aid in the future planning of capital projects for the utility’s sewer system.
During the February PCWASA Board Meeting, the Authority entered into a contractual agreement with RedZone Robotics for data acquisition, software, and inspection services. Through its Y.E.S. (Your Entire System) Program, RedZone also will combine the new data on the integrity of the PCWASA sewer system with existing information the Authority already has gathered to date via other inspection methods, creating a centralized system of record for the utility’s abundant sewer system.
The timeline of the data gathering process by RedZone’s Solo Unmanned Inspection Robots is approximately 15 months from the time the work kicked off in mid-April. However, the cost of the project for PCWASA is being spread over seven years, with favorable payment terms provided by RedZone.
The speed in which the data can be gathered by these technologically advanced robots, which are lightweight systems with onboard intelligence and full coverage tracking, is unmatched in the industry. That benefit, coupled with the flexible financing and payment plan for RedZone’s services, make this partnership advantageous to the Authority on both accounts, say Authority officials.
“The data that would have taken us 15 years to gather by conventional televising methods will now take only 15 months,” says Stephen Hogan, PCWASA General Manager. “During the early years of the Authority’s history, a portion of our sewer system was built originally by developers, so we’d like to have a better idea of the condition of these older portions of our infrastructure, before we prioritize scheduled rehabilitation, where needed.”
Based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, RedZone Robotics provides high efficiency pipeline inspection products and services for utilities and municipalities throughout North America, with robots that look like they could star in a science fiction film, says Hogan. RedZone’s work will allow PCWASA to maintain and enhance one of the most valuable assets of its sewer system – the sewer lines in the ground.
Ken Wolf, Vice President and corporate officer for RedZone Robotics, says PCWASA “has a proactive attitude toward the collection system infrastructure, which should serve as a model for best practice sewer system stewardship.”
Wolf also notes that sewers are critical assets, and at a time when many still choose to neglect them, PCWASA understands that the fundamental need for establishing the lowest cost, longest useful life plan for their abundant sewer system is accurate and complete information.
“They will quickly have access to the information required to use the funds available to manage the collection system in the best possible manner for the citizens of Peachtree City for many years to come,” concludes Wolf.
Chris Wood, Ph.D.