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Repair vs. Replace: A Comparative Analysis of Large Valve Management

Grand Rapids is the second largest water system in Michigan and delivers clean drinking water to the Greater Grand Rapids area using Lake Michigan as its raw water source. From an overall infrastructure standpoint, the Grand Rapids Water System operates and maintains approximately 1,250 miles of water main, 31,000 system valves, approximately 1,320 large system valves (16” and larger) and as a maximum day demand of approximately 75 MGD.

Grand Rapids Valve Repair 1

In 2017, the Grand Rapids Water System designed, bid and replaced five large valves in their system.  each valve replacement cost approximately $125,000.  At this rate, it would cost approximately $165 million dollars to replace all large diameter valves in the System. Due to this extensive overall cost that would be burdened on the customers, other methods were pursued. In the fall of 2017, Grand Rapids contracted with Wachs Water Services to assess and evaluate 20 additional large valves Grand Rapids’ transmission system to pilot the foreign method of maintenance, operation and rehabilitation.

In accordance with Grand Rapids’ asset management plan, determining the status of these valves was a first step. Despite the Grand Rapids Water System’s doubts that any of the twenty valves being assessed would work properly, it was deemed that twelve of the twenty worked quite well. Although this was surprising to Grand Rapids’ Staff, it lined up with the national average of about 60% operability. Eight of the twenty valves assessed did require some level of rehabilitation with four of them slated to receive new gears.

Under the original assessment contract, Wachs rehabilitated one of the eight valves by freeing it from its frozen state.  Grand Rapids requested and has accepted a proposal from Wachs for the rehabilitation of the remaining seven valves that require repairs.  Upcoming work includes multiple gear change-outs, a Level 2 assessment and replacement of a broken stem combined with gate refurbishment.  With Grand Rapids staff’s assistance, Wachs will restore these valves to full operability – for a fraction (approximately 11%) of replacement cost.

To learn more about how Wachs Water Services large valve assessment and rehabilitation programs can save your utility millions in replacement costs contact us at:  800-525-5821; info@wachsws.com

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