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Fayetteville PWC taking proactive approach to address aging infrastructure

New technologies helping achieve modernization goals, utility officials say


An aging network of power, water and sewer lines means Fayetteville’s public utility must closely monitor its infrastructure to avoid disruptions in service.

The city’s Public Works Commission met Wednesday to discuss “asset management” — the strategies in place to modernize utility systems and guard against failure and inefficiencies.

PWC has to be aware how old its “physical assets” are and be proactive to ensure that service is reliable and high-quality, utility administrators told the board.

Michael Smith, the water resources management coordinator for PWC, told the four commissioners in attendance that modernization of power, water and sewer systems is vital and that having up-to-date design software is key to achieving that goal.

Also important are financial safeguards that ensure PWC can meet its modernization challenges, officials said.

PWC spokeswoman Carolyn Justice-Hinson said after the meeting that the utility has been upgrading its water and sewer lines since the early 2000s. The idea, she said, is “to stay ahead of the curve.”

PWC has nearly 2,700 miles of water and sewer mains, 101,000 water meters, 32,000 manholes, and 8,200 fire hydrants as well as water storage tanks, booster pumps and lift stations.

PWC rehabs its water and sewer mains in ways that cost less and are less disruptive for customers than digging up old lines and replacing them, Justice-Hinson said.

“Many residents may be familiar with some of this work that has occurred in our system for nearly two decades,” she said. “During this process, customers are provided temporary water services (pipes running above ground) while the existing water lines are taken out of service, cleaned and relined with various methods.

“This extends the life of the lines and improves the water pressure and water quality to those customers," she said.

PWC uses maintenance practices that help identify and fix potential problems before they disrupt service, she said. Those include a plan to inspect and test valves to ensure they are working properly.

The utility is currently testing a pilot program that uses technology to monitor and prevent sewer overflows and other problems, Justice-Hinson said. Equipment has been installed in five areas that have had malfunctions previously to collect data and monitor conditions to help predict problems.

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com 

Fayetteville, PWC, utilities