Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority Adopts New “Call Before You Dig” System

To an outsideR, the carr iage and tr eat ment of sewerage no doubt evokes the sentiment “out of sight, out of mind.” But to Connecticut’s Greater New Haven Water Pollution Control Authority  (GNHWPCA), the required infrastructure and assets may be out of sight but rarely, if ever, are they out of mind.

So, when the Authority decided it was time to upgrade the resourcing and handling of its “Call Before You Dig” (CBYD) tickets, it adopted a holistic view of the role that spatial technology should play in helping it maintain continuous service. In what is believed to be a “first” in CBYD services, the Authority decided to share maps of its infrastructure with contractors, not only empowering them to know more about the area they are working in, but also aiming to reduce the risk of accidents while ensuring business continuity.

Contractors now receive maps within minutes of submitting their One Call tickets, enabling them to make better decisions before they get on site, as well as plan how they will avoid damaging a facility, especially if there are assets close by which are not owned by the utility. Maps created by Greater New Haven’s new CBYD solution are also shared with its own field technicians, thereby improving decision-making about whether to locate a facility or not. The automation of the ticketing process has also enabled better deployment of administration staff.

With 555 miles of underground assets, the Authority provides sewer services to 200,000 customers in the communities of New Haven, Hamden, East Haven and Woodbridge. The sewer mains and 30 pump stations convey the flow to the East Shore Water Pollution Abatement Facility located on the shore of New Haven Harbour. The facility is the second largest wastewater treatment plant in Connecticut.

The new CBYD system adopted by GNHWPCA, called TicketAccess, was developed by PelicanCorp. Rick Hurlburt, superintendent at GNHWPCA, said the Authority approached the evaluation and selection of a new CBYD solution by looking at industry-wide best practices to ensure its choice would provide continuous service to customers, as well as internal operational benefits.

“Simply sharing maps by itself does not eliminate the possibility of damage to infrastructure. It needs to work in concert with the locate process to be effective,” he said.

Connecticut law requires that all CBYD tickets are located, but municipal authorities such as GNHWPCA are exempt from this requirement when a clear and repetitive pattern, such as manholes in the middle of the street, enable easy identification of their assets. The maps generated from TicketAccess supplement the locate, letting the contractor see the nature of the assets at the location before going on site. The contractor may then decide to change the scope of their project on the basis of information received and, therefore, avoid any risk to assets.

“For GNHWPCA, the provision of maps also enables us to help prevent damage of service lines or laterals which we don’t own, but which are connected to our customers for whom we aim to maintain a reliable and continuous service,” Hurlburt said.

Determining which tickets actually needed a response and, in turn, a locate used to be timeconsuming
and costly. The former manual process needed three full-time staff members to handle between 30 and 80 tickets a day, as well as the scheduling of field visits. For each of these tickets, work orders were created in the Authority’s works management system, which would then keep track each time of the material costs for each field visit.

According to Hurlburt, the time spent manually entering these details was resource heavy. In many
cases, it also resulted in unnecessary field visits and inspections. Now, the new solution has freed up the Authority’s workforce to perform maintenance and other construction work.

To insure the process was working smoothly, GNHWPCA ran the new system in parallel with the Authority’s existing manual system. The result was a new solution that provides reliable and continuous service that helps ensure that these assets are never “out of mind.”

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