Hamilton Kent Blog

Top 5 things we learned about underground infrastructure in 2014.

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It may be a little late to make New Year’s resolutions, or maybe you don’t believe in making them, but we feel it’s a great time to point out some of the highlights from last year. We reviewed industry news, reports and expert blogs to bring you what we think you should take away from 2014.

1. Extreme weather events are showing the vulnerabilities in water and wastewater systems

Rebuilding continues two years after hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast in 2012. The damage was estimated at $60 billion in property damage and lost business. One of the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) largest awards of $730 million to rebuild and strengthen the Bay Park Wastewater Treatment Plant.

While in late December 2013, a major winter storm plunged much of Eastern US and Canada into darkness over the holiday season. Utilities scrambled to clean up icy debris off roads, restore power and get water services restored after water mains burst.

Both of these major events affected infrastructure, paralyzing it for days, weeks and even months. It revealed some of the vulnerabilities in infrastructure systems including aging water pipes, run down roads and unprotected areas of coastline.

2. Water main breaks and overflows are costing billions of dollars of damage

Water damage has been estimated at $3.2 billion in payouts in Canada in 2013. While this was a record year because of severe flooding in Alberta policy claims, payouts have been doubling since 2002. In the US, the numbers approached $200 billion in water damage payouts in 2011.

These numbers are only increasing as infrastructure ages and larger climate events become more frequent.

3. Significant investments will be needed to address the infrastructure deficit

Cities like Tampa, Denver, Phoenix, Montreal, Toronto, and many more are facing infrastructure that is between 50-100 years old—often it is reaching the end of its lifecycle and is failing.

The ASCE US Infrastructure Report Card estimates that about $298 billion dollars will be needed in the next twenty years to maintain US wastewater systems alone. While, the Canadian Infrastructure Report Card estimates that there is a $39 billion deficit to bring wastewater infrastructure into line.

4. Communities are looking at alternative funding structures, including Public Private Partnerships

Many argue that the infrastructure deficit needs to be addressed by alternative funding from public private partnerships (PPP). Often wastewater infrastructure is pointed to as an ideal PPP candidate due to their size and the return on investment they can give larger institutional investors.

5.Worker safety is of growing importance

This year, we saw more news stories about the measures government and industry were taking to make excavations and work on underground infrastructure safer.

Agreeing with said measures in our plant and in the field, we’re proud to reflect on our accomplishments from this year and being recognized by FM Global for our attention to safety. Our Lifespan System is worker friendly as it is lighter and faster to install then most manhole systems. Because our system is roughly one third the weight of traditional manholes it helps to prevent many injuries associated with installation.