To help municipal public works agencies manage underground infrastructure assets more effectively, Oakland, Calif.-based V&A has established the Civil Infrastructure Assessment Group (CIAG), a team of specialist firms offering state-of-the-art capabilities for investigation and assessment of large-diameter wastewater pipelines.

Member firms include V&A, Brenford Environmental Services (Pearland, Texas), National Plant Services Inc. (Long Beach, Calif.), the Pressure Pipe Inspection Co. Ltd. (Mississauga, Ontario, Canada) and RedZone Robotics (Pittsburgh). 

The plan is to help clients achieve meaningful asset management by offering a single, flexible, rapid-response source for many of the best available technologies,” says Jose L. Villalobos, P.E., founder and president of V&A, a leading corrosion control firm with offices in Oakland, San Diego and Houston.
“Asset management problems with wastewater facilities usually arise due to incomplete or inadequate assessment of existing conditions,” Villalobos says. “Many sewer systems haven’t been inspected since they went into service. For older systems, there may not even be a reliable inventory, let alone as-built drawings or complete records. Without real information, management has to rely on a desktop analysis and hope their assumptions about actual conditions are correct. As a result, billions of dollars’ worth of critical public assets are now being managed based on an educated guess.”

CIAG, in contrast, will provide real-time quantitative data, Villalobos says, using a wide range of advanced capabilities including inspection robotics, remote closed-circuit TV, electromagnetic inspection, digital sensors and high-speed water-jet cleaning to expose pipeline surfaces. “These new technologies are the only way to get a clear picture of actual, real-world conditions,” Villalobos explains. “Many facilities cannot be entered for inspection because they are always full of water or otherwise inaccessible or because the system is one that has to operate 24/7. Our approach is designed to provide the best possible information in order to support the best asset management decisions.”

V&A is also in discussions with several other companies that may join the CIAG team soon, bringing additional specialized capabilities. “This is a dynamic consortium,” Villalobos notes, “that will add members as their technologies become commercially available.”

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