New PWSA Software Flags Critical Areas For Water Main Breaks

Feb 25, 2016

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority can't replace every old pipe, but a new system would help workers prioritize the most critical areas.
Credit Mark Taylor / Flickr

The Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority is installing a new system with the goal of identifying and prioritizing issues, such as main breaks, before they happen.

Brendan Shubert, PWSA manager of external affairs, said the electronic software flags when multiple water main breaks are reported in an area. PWSA will prioritize that area in the following year's budget. 

Then the authority can make that area a priority in the following year’s budget.

"Before, maybe there are ... one or two breaks, we’ll be able to identify, ‘This line is 75 years old. We’ve had stress in the system in a three block radius with different breaks. This is where it’s going to start breaking next,'" Shubert said.  

The maintenance management system tracks work orders, equipment inspections and repairs in one place. The $2 million dollar system requires 18 months to install.

Shubert said the system will help the authority make better infrastructure maintenance decisions, and eventually will lead to preventative work on water mains. He said it’s been used with success in other cities.

“Everybody takes it for granted," he said. "You turn on the tap and the water is there. What we want to do is continue that service without interruption and for as long as possible. This system is going to help us prioritize our needs for our capital system.”

Shubert said it would take 400 years to replace every pipeline and main in the city, so the new system will help officials focus on the most critical areas first.