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Every year the drinking water sector replaces about 1% of the total drinking water distribution network. This replacement costs about € 200 million per year. To maximise the effectiveness of this expenditure, the ability to quantify which mains, or mains groups, should be given replacement priority on the basis of their degradation is crucial. Since water mains are buried underground, it is not easy to determine their condition. Water mains failure registration is therefore one of the key support elements for replacement policy. With the USTORE programme, KWR has since 2009 facilitated and stimulated the uniform registration of water mains failures. Currently, nine drinking water companies are formally associated with the USTORE programme and have signed a ‘Participation Agreement in the Drinking Water Company Uniform Failure Database’.
Importance of uniform failure registration
The objective of uniform registration in USTORE is to develop knowledge about mains degradation for the drinking water sector. In participating, the water companies respond to the call by the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management for replacement decision-making support through an adequate failure registration system.
Companies that participate in the USTORE programme register both failure data and details about the mains in USTORE. On the basis of this data one can determine the most important performance indicator for mains groups: the failure frequency. By sharing information in USTORE the water companies have access to more data, allowing them to carry out more precise analyses. This provides a clearer picture of mains degradation and the extent of the influence, for example, of the environment on the degradation. To collect the information and conduct the analyses, the USTORE programme participants use the secured web application USTOREweb. The funding occurs under the responsibility of the Platform Bedrijfsvoering (Management Platform), which all Dutch drinking water companies are part of. The substantive supervision of USTORE is done by the USTORE Supervisory Group; drinking water company staff are members of the group and are responsible for the management of USTORE at their companies.
Data quality key concern in USTORE
Drinking water companies share their failure data and thus make decisions about mains replacement partly on the basis of collective research and data from fellow companies. Since mains replacement involves big investments, it is important for the drinking water companies that the knowledge upon which they base their replacement decisions be reliable.
For this reason, 2016 saw the launch of the ‘Towards a uniform quality of USTORE’ project, within which the drinking water companies and KWR developed a quality management system for USTORE. This system is set down in the Drinking Water Operational Code (PCD) no. 9 ‘Uniform Failure Registration’.