Replacement of aging water
infrastructure is a national issue. A recent report released by the American
Water Works Association, Buried
No Longer, stated that infrastructure replacement costs will exceed $1
Trillion by 2035.
The need for infrastructure
replacement is not a new one. For many years now, the Fairfax Water Board of
Directors has dedicated funding to ensure that our infrastructure can be
replaced as needed without placing an unusual financial or service burden on
our customers. Analysis is done each year to determine future needs for replacing
water mains in the system. To identify which mains will be replaced a number
of factors are considered:
This comprehensive approach
allows Fairfax Water to apply overall asset management principles to the very
complex and difficult challenges presented by aging infrastructure.
Below are some key factors
that keep Fairfax Water at the top level of service and the bottom of the
charts in terms of cost and service disruptions to our customers:
From 2001 to 2010, Fairfax Water invested over $39 million to
replace distribution water mains that had reached the end of their useful
Fairfax Water's distribution system is relatively young.
Over half of our mains (56%) have been in the ground for 30 years or
less. Only 23% of our distribution system was installed in the 1950's and
1960's. This is one of many reasons our system-wide break rate is the
lowest in the region.
Even though our system is newer and performing better than many,
Fairfax Water's Board and staff recognize the need to effectively manage our
underground assets to maintain a high level of service for our customers.
In 2010, Fairfax Water began to look at this issue in a new light by
incorporating service levels and other factors in the prioritization of funding
for replacement. Using these factors, we were able to identify a target
service level goal and estimate the funding that would be required over the
next 75 years to maintain our distribution system performance in line with the
top performing water systems in the country.
In 2011, our Distribution System Sustainability program included
design and construction of 30 projects totaling almost 5 miles of main, as well
as the design for the replacement of an additional mile of water main along
Route 1 in the Mount Vernon District.
In 2010, the Fairfax Water Board increased the Distribution
System Sustainability program expenditures by 50% to $9 million per year and is
planning to further increase them to $11 million per year in 2013.