Water System Engineering, PLLC
P.O. Box 8131 • Lacey, WA 98509
Phone: 360-831-9191       mary@watersystemengineering.com

Water System Planning

In her eight years of experience in the water system engineering field, Mary Wilkes, PE, has, in collaboration with other engineers, written too many water system plans to name here. The scope of the water system plans/small water system management programs that Mary has written have ranged from systems with one connection (Sunrise Beach School, a small private school with one building) to a system with over 6,000 connections (Summit Water & Supply Co.).

Her experience includes Water System Plans (WSP), Small Water System Management Programs (SWSMP), Umbrella Plans & "Part B" Plans; Group A systems & Group B systems; Community, Transient & Non-Transient systems; and expanding & non-expanding system. An important first step is to ensure that right type of plan or program is written, and that its size is appropriate for the size and complexity of the system.

Why have a water system plan? The same reason you check the oil in your car. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Do you know how much it would cost to replace the major components in your system? Do you know what the expected life cycles of the components are? Having an appropriate rate setting to ensure that the system is financially viable is one of the most important steps a water system can take to keep running smoothly. Do you have enough water rights, storage capacity and pumping capacity for all the potential future customers within your service area? Are you on track to meeting current and future health regulations? Do you have contingency plans in case of emergency? Do your existing fire hydrants have enough flow to put out a fire? Do you know if all your shut-off valves are in good working order? The worst time to find out your shut off valve won't close is just after a pipe burst.

Having a well thought out water system plan will save time, money and frustration. Without an up-to-date water system plan, you may not be eligible for state and federal funding and/or low interest loans. When expanding or improving your system, you are normally required to have a project report written by an engineer, obtain approval from Department of Health before beginning construction, and file construction documents upon completion. If written properly, your water system plan is submitted instead of having to submit a project report for each and every project, and when your plan is approved, you have approval to begin construction.

Why choose Water System Engineering, PLLC? As the name implies, I deal exclusively with water systems. Rate setting, water rights, state and federal drinking water regulations, water quality and water treatment systems, system capacity, hydraulics, pump selection, system controls, fireflow — these are all complex topics, each requiring in depth knowledge and experience. There are many good general civil engineering firms out there, but they are good at just that — general engineering, not specialized in the specific complexities of water system engineering. Because of my knowledge of water system planning and engineering, I often find ways to save money for my clients that other firms might miss. For example, one of my clients was told by a previous engineer that the system "had to have fireflow storage" even though it was not physically possible to deliver the fireflow to the system (the pipes were too small and there were no hydrants on the system). I pointed out, and Department of Health agreed, that, since it was not an expanding system, the system was exempt from the fireflow requirements. This saved my client well over $100,000.

Not only will my clients save money during the construction phase, but they will save money during the engineering phase. Because I specialize in water systems, I don't spend a lot of time researching regulations, engineering equations, design concepts, and such for water systems. When a general civil engineering works on a water system, frequently they spend a considerable amount of time doing research. That takes time. And, of course, that cost is passed on to you, the client. Because water system planning and engineering is just about all I do, I am already up-to-date on these issues. I don't have to spend as much time learning and researching, so the savings get passed on to you.

What to do next? If you are thinking of hiring a water system engineer and would like to know more, we should get in contact with each other. You can call me at (360) 831-9191, or email me at mary@watersystemengineering.com .

Thank you for your time. I hope to hear from you soon.

Mary J. Wilkes