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Database of water, wastewater pipeline infrastructure systems to be launched Sept. 1

onnects the stakeholders to various information sources scattered on the worldwide web.

Sinha's graduate students have traveled around the country for the past year, interviewing employees at some 87 water and wastewater utilities, compiling about 100 case studies to date. They also compiled about 300 technical descriptions and 100 technology data sheets of original profiles of the underground pipes.

"We have developed a very robust database. It is necessary because the utilities are very fragmented in their efforts, and this database creates a much more level playing field" for the some 40,000 utilities in the U.S., Sinha said.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is funding the four-year study through its Aging Water Infrastructure Research Program that supports the efforts to put the nation's aging infrastructure on a pathway towards sustainability.

Some of the difficulty in compiling the knowledge, Sinha said, is due to the fact that employees at utilities do not publish technical papers on advancements or successes they have achieved. "If someone retires after 35 years, it is likely that the person takes that historical knowledge with him or her," he added. "So when we do data mining talking to experts, data mining, and extracting information from them it is a lot of work but also a lot of valuable information."

Small utilities usually wait until something is broken and needs to be fixed. The problem with this approach, Sinha said, "is analogous to the health of the human body. If you ignore your health, then it takes a lot of resources to restore it. Similarly, the consequences for not addressing the infrastructure problems can also increase. Instead of a $100,000 fix, it might turn into millions, especially if litigation occurs."

WATERiD is free to all users, and Sinha is hopeful that more utilities will start adding their experiences.

The database is similar to Wikipedia for the w

Contact: Lynn Nystrom
Virginia Tech

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Database of water, wastewater pipeline infrastructure systems to be launched Sept. 1
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