Chapter Four: Operation and Maintenance Strategy

From Ministry of Water DCOM Manual

1 Chapter Four: Operation and Maintenance Strategy

1.1 Introduction

The large investments made to construct utilities intended to provide facilities for water supply and sanitation are becoming generally unproductive, mainly on account of poor maintenance. If this anomaly continues unchecked even after years, these projects can become defunct, and a large amount of money will be required to replace and rebuild the system and its components and to control occurrence of interruptions in service provision due to the breakdowns of equipment. The water supply and sanitation boards/departments are not able to ensure that the maintenance staff follow valid modes of operation and practices of O&M. Generally, the managements of Water supply and sanitation systems in Water Supply and Sanitation Authorities (WSSAs) receive relatively low priority. Further, the lack of funds coupled with the lack of enthusiasm/motivation among the operation and maintenance staff to keep projects in good working conditions as well as the lack of adequate training of staff may be the main reasons for the poor status and poor performance of water supply and sanitation projects in the country.

The O&M aims to ensure the smooth, uninterrupted and sustained provision of water supply and sanitation services with the guarantee that:

(a) The useful life of the water supply and sanitation facilities needs to be extended and their service quality enhanced;

(b) The health of the population must be maintained;

(c) The quality of the environment must be preserved and protected; and

(d) The marginalized should benefit. Even so, there are undesirable consequences of poor O&M and include:

(a) Intermittent water supply due to wastage and depletion of sources;

(b) Poor water quality due to inadequate treatment and contamination;

(c) Deterioration of pipes, equipment, and services;

(d) Increases in the costs of maintenance and

(e) Failure to secure consumers' acceptance of increases in tariffs.

The actions which are considered and are essential for the good operation and maintenance (O&M) of WASH facilities and services include the following (REDR, 2016):

(a) Ensuring that all water supply infrastructure do function well and that the lifespan of water supply facilities is maximized;

(b) Maintaining cleanliness and ensuring good level of hygiene for WASH facilities;

(c) Carrying out regular de-sludging;

(d) Promoting hygiene to foster a sense of accountability for the maintenance of hygienic conditions and thereby winning the people`s motivation to properly maintain and efficiently and effectively operate WASH facilities;

(e) Supervising and facilitating the participation and empowerment of ownership for the maintenance of latrines, toilet sanitary facilities;

(f) Instituting mechanisms for and ensuring the control of flies;

(g) Ensuring continued and safe access and adequate lighting of sanitary facilities.

The basic considerations for O&M of water supply and sanitation system are as follows:

(a) Preparation of O&M Plan:

(i) The plan involves a list of routine tasks, specific tasks at regular intervals including inspection of the system (daily, weekly, quarterly, annually etc.);

(ii) The plan also involves the preparation of a checklist for operation, supervision and maintenance.

(b) Preparation of a map of water supply network and sanitation services for a town/village starting with and including the water source, head works, treatment and distribution network. However, it should be noted that the maps for maintenance purposes are of a smaller scale and have more detailed information. These have to show the location of service pipes, valves, house connections, etc. enabling efficient reaction when problems occur. If made by computer, the maps can be created with different sorts of information and overlaid, which is convenient for analyses (e.g. separate maps showing topography, houses and streets, pipe network, sewer network, electricity and gas, etc.).

(c) Institutional arrangements and hiring adequate human resource and capacity building;

(d) Management of Stores for the availability of tools, parts/spares, equipment, basic materials, etc.;

(e) Maintenance of records and details of materials/tool/equipment purchased to include date of purchase, manufacturer details, cost of purchase, warranty, dates for part replacement, etc.; and

(f) Financial Arrangements to encompass working out average annual O&M expenditures and working out financial arrangements inclusive of user charges, utility’s own fund, other grants, etc.

1.2 Preparation of Operation and Maintenance Plan

A plan has to be prepared for the smooth operation and maintenance of every major unit as well as the totality of projects as a whole. The overall operation and maintenance plan should be made project-wise to meet the needs of the various individual units. The plan must encompass procedures for routine tasks, checks and inspection at set intervals viz. daily, weekly, quarterly, semi-annually or annually.

1.2.1 Development of Individual Unit Plans for Smooth Overall Operation and Maintenance

Individual plans must be prepared scheme-wise for all units and all pieces of equipment must be indicated. Each unit must have a plan with fixed responsibility, timing of action, ways and means. Generally actions recommended by the manufacturer or by the site engineer in charge who has installed the equipment or who has supervised the installation should be included. Often the contractor’s recommended operation and maintenance procedures at the time of design/ construction will be a good starting point for preparing a sound plan for a unit. This plan has to be followed by the O&M staff and will be the basis for supervision/ inspection. It also may be used for the evaluation of the O&M status and the delivery of the desired outcomes.

The agency in-charge of O&M for water supply and sanitation projects shall become service oriented. It is essential that the organization responsible for O&M has well qualified, trained, experienced, motivated and efficient staff for improved and efficient and effective performance.

1.2.2 Plans for Capacity Building of Operation and Maintenance Personnel

A befitting staff training programme can be organized through different water supply and sanitation utilities. The personnel who are already available or chosen to carry out defined actions as contained in the programme may have to be trained or retrained through special courses or through “on the job training “to ensure that all personnel are adequately trained to carry out the functions and activities listed in the maintenance plan. The training should first and initially focus on supervisors who should in turn train the operators.

1.2.3 Spares and Tools Provision Plan

It is essential to always ensure the availability of spare parts for every project like stand-by pump-sets, minimum numbers of different sizes of pipe fittings assessed on the basis of lengths of pipe-lines, all sizes of nuts and bolts, bearings, valves, fittings, pipe pieces of different sizes & materials, electrical spares for water supply and wastewater like miniature circuit breakers (MCBs), relays, motors etc. The availability of adequate spare parts for needed repairs and replacements must be ensured by ordering early ensuring their delivery by organizing a clear and preferably computerized inventory system. The list of spare parts to be procured can be drafted on the basis of manufacturer’s recommendations/consumption rate for material in previous years. The spare parts procured should be of requisite nationally approved standards, with due proper quality checks for assurance.

1.2.4 Water Audit and Leakage Control Plan

The availability of portable water (underground and surface) is very limited. There are considerable losses in the water produced and distributed through leakages in pipelines, valves, public taps unauthorized service connection etc. The average percentage of Non-Revenue Water (NRW) in many water supply and sanitation utilities ranges from 15 to 55 percent. Thus, large amounts of water can be wasted and this also translates into loss of revenue or water service related resources. It is therefore, essential to plan the conservative use of water i.e. water supply and wastewater/sewerage systems auditing/ leakage control through metering, improved O&M practices and awareness intervention.

1.2.5 Plan for Efficient Use of Power

In water projects, power charges can be as high as 30 to 50% of the total O&M costs. Hence, an efficient use of power with matching reduction of wastage of the resource will go a long way towards efficient functioning of the utility. This could be achieved through systematic energy audit in order to identify the possible means to save energy and reduce unnecessary consumption above the star rating equipment/Power capacitors.

1.2.6 Plan for Sound Financial Management System

It is essential to establish a sound financial management system to make water supply and sanitation projects financially viable. This can be achieved by controlling expenditure and increasing the incomes levels through the preparation of annual budgets, based on realistic estimates. The full cost recovery for O&M through user charges may be adopted. However, EWURA and RUWASA are responsible for giving approval for tariff levels relating to water supply and sanitation services depending on the O&M expenditure ceilings and the socio-economic condition of water users.

1.2.7 Plan for Education and Information Communication Relating to Water and Sanitation Services

Information Education Communication (IEC) activity is an essential part of awareness building for every community in the effort to ensure enhanced awareness about safe and clean drinking water as well as efficient sanitation facilities. Awareness building for effective use of water and safely managed sanitation services can be generated among water service consumers through plays, social media, electronic media, print media and wide publicity. The utility organizations should prepare befitting Information-Education-Communication materials and use the services of voluntary organizations/NGOs to create the needed awareness among water services users as well for the general public.

1.2.8 Role of Voluntary /Non-Government Organization

The role of Voluntary /Non-Government organizations (NGOs) can have important roles especially in the creation of public awareness on issues like water conservation, sanitation, proper use of water and the need to pay sustainably for water and sanitation services at affordable levels. Water users committees may be formed through the active support of NGOs to periodically review local problems relating to water services and advice the CBWSOs on needed improvements and for the upkeep of utilities within their jurisdiction and also encourage the people to regularly pay for water and sanitation services and encourage the public to maintain hygienic habits such as regularly washing hands and using toilet facilities at family and community levels.

1.2.9 Reporting and Records Keeping

A reporting and records systems need to be developed and should be realistic and relevant to the operational issues in particular situations and should focus on production, storage, and treatment or disposal sites or re-use of materials. The most efficient way to keep records is to plan for essential data, prepare the data formats and appoint persons to fill in the data, record pertinent frequencies and review and report and submit the reports to relevant authorities.

Reports and records keeping systems shall be enforced such as to list all the basic data about each piece of equipment including the d the history of the equipment. In each area of O&M, from a list or template of operations and maintenance, such data can be identified or extracted for record keeping and reporting as appropriate.

Examples include:

(a) pamphlets/manuals of pumping equipment, including pump curves;

(b) As-built plans of the system or plans and engineering drawings;

(c) Capital expenditure records;

(d) Water meter data such as meter type, when installed, and serial number; and

(e) Well designed, logs and results of pumping tests.

A reporting system shall be provided for the operator to inform the supervisor /manager about existing and potentially emerging problems of each equipment which requires attention for repair or replacement by the relevant crew or other specialized service personal.

Advantages of keeping records

These include:

(a) To maintain the necessary inventory of the materials used and required,

(b) To maintain reports of total cost of repairs and replacements in previous years along with breakdown of material and labour costs with due amount spent on outside utilities/agencies for repairs and replacements,

(c) Information and alert for the replacement of damaged pipelines and manhole covers,

(d) To maintain records on when exposed piping was last painted and the cost of materials and labour cost thereof, and

(e) To maintain reports on the un-served areas for extension of water pipelines which need inter-connection

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