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Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

  • 1.  Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-04-2019 09:34 PM
    My organization is contemplating if/when it is appropriate to show profiles versus plan-only on water main construction plans. Our projects are predominately urban in nature (alignment within roadway with numerous utility crossings), are 3,000-5,000 linear feet in length, and are both distribution system extension or replacement in nature. Pipe diameters are generally 8" and 12". We also have rural projects that are generally extensions along the shoulder of roadways.

    I am wondering if others have a decision framework to support the concept of omitting profiling water lines in similar circumstances. The argument is that omitting profiles on relatively smaller and less complex projects allows for more rapid plan development and construction.

    I would appreciate any insight you all may have. 


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    Will Bulloss
    Blacksburg VA
    (540) 207-2323
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  • 2.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-05-2019 07:58 AM
    ​We recently began working with the city of Quincy, MA and pushed out a package exactly as you are describing, water main replacement and improvements of approximately 11,000LF with plan view only. The city has done these types of packages in the past and expressed no concerns not having profiles, the main difference is all of the proposed pipe is intended to be replaced at the same line and grade of the old pipe, which theoretically will take care of any utility crossings and in the case of this city, minimize the amount of rock excavation. Past projects of new pipe in new trench in dense urban settings we have always shown profiles.

    You can see several of the city's previous packages on their purchasing site, Quincy, MA - Current Bids
    Quincyma remove preview
    Quincy, MA - Current Bids
    Please note: We have added a new feature; "CONTRACT AWARD" It is only the front page of the contract, but contains the amount and the terms. If you need a copy of the complete contract, please put in a FOIA request to [email protected]
    View this on Quincyma >



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    Joshua Chabot P.E.
    Tetra Tech
    Marlborough MA
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  • 3.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-05-2019 07:58 AM
    Sorry Will, I don't have a framework but want to emphasize that profiles provide benefits in identifying potential underground conflicts (e.g. sewer crossings), and are invaluable in the future, especially when accurate as-built plans are prepared. I understand the short term cost vs. benefit issue, and it would seem to me for larger projects they should be included, if possible.

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    David Kennicutt
    Delta Engineers, Architects & L. S., PC
    Endwell NY
    (607) 648-9341
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  • 4.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-06-2019 07:42 PM
    I concur completely with David Kennicutt. No doubt, it's easier and less labor/$$ to omit profiles. However, this is a recipe for both future expenses and impacts to both the water lines and any other underground utilities when they interact, in what might be surprising and dangerous ways. This might be acceptable for smaller diameter utility lines in a neighborhood where it's a brand new neighborhood and there are clear standards and drawings for how deep they are, but not in the size range you're discussing.

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    David Hook M.ASCE
    San Jose CA
    (408) 226-1728
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  • 5.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-08-2019 09:49 AM
    When I worked for a ​water utility, we would do plan only for 8" and below. Anything 12" and above, we'd profile.

    Reasoning: 6"/8" were fairly easily adaptable in the field. 12" and above were not.

    This worked fairly well.

    That said, identifying underground utilities is key. We had difficulties with the telecom guys putting their infrastructure on top of ours. So its a bit of a dice toss with regard to spending public money.

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    Shelly Hattan
    Tarrant Regional Water District
    Fort Worth TX
    (817) 720-4256
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  • 6.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-09-2019 03:55 PM

    If profile information is available, show it.
    Another bad idea is to draw the plans on aerial photography. Works well on the construction plans, but the photo copied  "As Builts" just come out as black unreadable smears.



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    Hans H. Coucheron-Aamot
    [Retired]
    Albuquerque NM
    (505) 897-2554
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  • 7.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-11-2019 10:06 AM
    How do you locate drains and air vents without profile information?

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    Hans H. Coucheron-Aamot
    [Retired]
    Albuquerque NM
    (505) 897-2554
    ------------------------------



  • 8.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 03-11-2020 12:14 PM
    I have always thought that showing the water line in both plan and profile is very important both to the contractor and to the inspector. The waterline profile helps the contractor prepare in advance for cuts and fills that may exist along the proposed and existing surfaces as well as the depth of existing utilities.

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    Michael Ridge P.E., M.ASCE
    Delaware County Engineer's Office
    Westerville OH
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  • 9.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 03-12-2020 08:37 AM
    There is a reason why utility records are considered Quality Level D, the worst possible quality level according to ASCE Standard 38-02. Any civil engineer worth his pay needs to know where existing facilities are, whether above ground or underground during the design of a project. Lack of available accurate utility information is a main cause of pavement failure due to digging holes to locate poorly recorded utility information. We should be looking for ways to achieve more accurate buried utility information rather than installing them with less. With the less is better/cheaper mentality, why even provide a map/plan for the horizontal location ... a  locator can find it!!

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    Al Field, Aff.M.ASCE
    President
    Al Field & Associates
    Phoenix, AZ
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  • 10.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 03-12-2020 11:25 AM
    Water lines are not my expertise.....  but, we encounter the same issues with gas lines.  Profiling longer over-land runs adds some drafting work and increases the size of files and kills a few more trees [for those that still use paper plans ??.] and may not pay much of a dividend to the Owner.  But, I do recommend providing profiles anywhere along the line where elevation is of specific importance.  This has several benefits:
       1. Draws attention to importance of elevation and profile at locations of specific importance.
       2. Gives Contractor [and Inspector] clear direction for installation.
       3. Better information on Plans should result in better and more responsive bids from Contractors.
       4. The Profile gives the inspector a detail to "As-Built" for Owner's future reference.

    just my $0.005 worth [that is my 2 cents worth adjusted for inflation.....]     Tony

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    Tony Huff P.E., F.ASCE
    PRESIDENT CEO
    Owensboro KY
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  • 11.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 03-13-2020 12:57 PM
    I am a Project Manager/designer/construction manager for a water District just east of Seattle, WA for 25-years.  We have required profiles on water mains for almost 15-years if not longer.  We even require Contractors to survey (horizontal and vertical) all bends and fittings.  At first I thought this was not needed, but now I don't see an issue with this.  Assuming a utility is "shallow buried" doesn't mean it was built with 36-in of cover.  Without profiles Contractor's seem to treat water mains like power lines or other dry utilities, I find they never seem to go in straight and seem to wander as the will.  Our District has a very active asset management program and knowing the depth of our utilities is vital to future replacement, maintenance, and repair.

    It isn't that much more money to have profiles created.  The Engineer of record should be looking at the "profile" to determine issues with existing and proposed crossing of other utilities.  To have a drafter (or engineer) show this on a profile is still a small cost.  And, with most plans now being printed on paper and PDFs the costs of printing plans is insignificant compared to the past when we had actual blue lines and mylar construction plans (we still use "mylar" asbuilts).  Electronic files has allowed us more space to show things on plans that in the past were to difficult and/or costly.

    Additionally, in Washington State, the Department of Health requires water mains to be installed OVER all non-potable conveyance systems, including storm culverts.  Or the water and conveyance need to be encased.  We are having a very difficult time trying to get Engineers to realize that storm drain systems should be put in deeper than what has happen in the past.  They "burn" grade and then force water main deeper than necessary.  Also, when you show the profile, especially with replacement projects, you find areas where you might be under cutting parallel utilities.

    When we have profiles, we can push our requirements, make sure that there aren't conflicts with other utilities, and make sure Contractors construct the utility as required by the Engineer.  Again, the cost of paper plans, PDFs and printing plans on 11x17 sheets make the extra costs for extra sheets small, and I believe, insignificant, when compared to the benefits.  I believe the lack of profiles is just an easy out.

    Show the profiles and all crossings.  And, have the as built locations of bends and fittings surveyed during construction.  For long pipe runs without bends, survey the as built main location every 100-ft.



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    James Konigsfeld P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal Engineer
    Seattle WA
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  • 12.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 03-13-2020 09:05 AM
    I have spent over 50 years in Engineering and Construction of waterline projects. When constructing in the rural water environment, depth of pipe is a standard, depending on the freezing depth.

    When designing and constructing waterlines in an urban or soon to be urban  area, controlling the depth, and having correct as-builts is part of our pledge to provide the public, clients and owners with our best civil engineering service. To often, the owner wants to save money and just say 42" or whatever depth. Millions of dollars are spent repairing and replacing lines because of this casual attitude.

    We are in the same easements as others that have grade control do to gravity. I have broken many lines that were being placed based on plans that assumed the lines were at minimum depth. Most good construction superintendents mark their plans with the actual locations. The city or consultant just doesn't finish their job. I have seen construction equipment burn to the ground do to inaccurate as-builts.

    It costs considerable money to place accurate plans in a contractors hands, but that's what there for. I understand placing notes on drawings saying "location of existing lines is not guaranteed, contract must confirm locations", our legal brothers require that. Doesn't mean don't do anything but our best.

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    Robert Hinton, P.E- Life Member ASCE [Pavement Engineer]
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  • 13.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 03-13-2020 10:01 AM
    I agree with Al and those who support using profiles.  It is not just the installation of the line that needs to be considered, but the information available for future use.  That includes but is not limited to maintenance, future construction, and future designs by others.  Another thing to consider is that depth is not static, and is never a good substitute to tying to an actual elevation datum.  ASCE is working on an as-built standard as well that will have a significant emphasis on elevation for buried utilities.

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    Jarrod Compton L.S.I.T, A.M.ASCE
    Atkins
    Houston TX
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  • 14.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 03-13-2020 12:57 PM
    The issue with replacing a water main, with a new water main at the same elevation is when you need to make connections to perpendicular mains.

    1) In the future when the Utility needs to tap the new water main they now have to cut through the old main.

    2) We require the old main to stay in service until the new main has been tested and approved for use.  They make all perpendicular connections while the existing main is live.  This isn't possible if the new main is still live.

    I can understand the same elevation when it is just a large diameter transmission main, but for small diameter mains (12-inch and under) there is no reason not to install the water main at a different elevation.

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    James Konigsfeld P.E., M.ASCE
    Principal Engineer
    Seattle WA
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  • 15.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-09-2019 08:29 PM
    The approach you outline is interesting, and I could see how a profile may not be needed if pipes are truly replaced at the same line and grade, because you would presumably already have some sort of record data. For more context on our applications, we typically design a new water main on a new alignment and grade (typically on the opposite side of the road) and keep the existing main in service until the new main is completed. In our application, new utility conflicts are present that have not been mitigated.



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    Will Bulloss
    Blacksburg VA(540) 207-2323
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  • 16.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-09-2019 08:31 PM
    David, I agree with you regarding the value of accurate as-built information being captured on plan and profile projects. This is certainly one of the arguments for keeping profiles in plan sets, particularly as the utility and transportation industry move toward three dimensional modeling. Thanks for your insight.

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    Will Bulloss
    Blacksburg VA
    (540) 207-2323
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  • 17.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-09-2019 09:45 PM
    One internal argument against showing profiles is that some jobs do not have elevation data available for utility crossings (most being services and small diameter crossings, not mains). In those cases, there are still numerous gravity sewer systems (sanitary and storm) where elevation data is captured and easily transferred to a profile. In these cases, we have historically shown the gravity sewers and known elevations of utility crossings on the profile view, and otherwise just show a line at the appropriate station to represent utility crossing/elevation unknown.

    Agree with avoiding aerial photography. It may be useful as an exhibit, but does not replace the need for a traditional set of plans.

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    Will Bulloss
    Blacksburg VA
    (540) 207-2323
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-10-2019 09:17 PM

    Texas Administrative Code Title 43 Part 1 Chapter 21 Subchapter C RULE §21.37  Design (c)(5) states:

      (5) As-built plans or certified as-installed construction plans shall include the installed location, vertical elevations, and horizontal alignments of the utility facility based upon the department's survey data, the relationship to existing highway facilities and the right of way line, and access procedures for maintenance of the utility facility. As-installed construction plans certified by a utility or its representative shall be submitted to the department for each relocation or new installation. In the alternative, if approved by the director of the Maintenance Division or Right of Way Division, a district may require a utility to deliver either as-installed construction plans that are certified by an independent party or final as-built plans that are signed and sealed by an engineer or registered professional land surveyor. In determining whether to authorize a requirement for independently certified or signed and sealed plans, the director shall consider:

        (A) the amount of available right of way or the proposed utility facility's proximity to department facilities and other utility facilities that may be impacted;

        (B) the type of utility facility; and

        (C) past performance of the utility in providing accurate location data and conformance with its certified as-installed construction plans.


    Schedule your project to give you enough time to produce a detailed plan and profile sheets. Per the above, that was what I required in my previous role of recommending approval for utility installations within the state roadway system.



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    Justin Obinna P.E. (TX, LA), M.ASCE
    Texas Dept of Transportation
    Maintennance Division
    Austin TX
    (512)416-3017
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-24-2019 08:29 PM
    I am dealing with a project now (that I inherited) that was designed on an aerial. It looks fine on a screen, but is nothing but trouble for construction and record-keeping.

    ------------------------------
    Will Bulloss
    Principal Engineer - Civil
    Blacksburg VA
    (540) 207-2323
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-10-2019 09:17 PM
    Having designed water main projects for nearly 50 years, I can state that we seldom used profiles. Several reasons are that most watermains are shallow bury - 5-feet here in Boston Area.  If a utility is located during construction and is in conflict with the proposed path of the water main, the main can be lowered or raised  (and insulated) to pass over or under the conflicting utility line.  Now, there are times when a profile may assist in the construction of a water line. If you have an area that contains large utility lines, a large number of utility lines, etc., a localized profile may be warranted.  Unlike sewer lines, water has more freedom of movement thus reducing the need of providing profiles. We do use profiles for specialized projects such as Horizontal Directional Drills and railroad crossings.  One other thing - the design engineer should walk the proposed water main route to identify possible areas of conflict and to make sure the main can be installed as planned.  After design is completed, another walk through should be done to backcheck the initial assumptions made early on during design. Too many young Engineers see this a below heir professional dignity and they are placing their firms at risk not to mention risk loss of clients.

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    Timothy Stinson P.E.
    Holbrook MA
    (781) 767-3163
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  • 21.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-24-2019 08:29 PM
    Couldn't agree more with you regarding the value of walking the job before, during, and after construction. Thanks for your feedback.

    ------------------------------
    Will Bulloss
    Principal Engineer - Civil
    Blacksburg VA
    (540) 207-2323
    ------------------------------



  • 22.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 04-25-2019 11:09 AM
    Without accurate horizontal as well as vertical data, how do you know if the new line went over or under the gravity line when using Augmented Reality after the installation? The only way to find out will be to vacuum excavate and find out what the as-built drawings should already show.

    ------------------------------
    [Al] [Field] Aff.M.ASCE
    [President]
    [Al Field & Associates]
    [Phoenix] [AZ]
    [602-616-3618]
    ------------------------------



  • 23.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 03-13-2020 11:25 AM
    Having designed watermain projects for more than 40 years, I can provide some advice regarding profiles and reasons why and why they are not shown on design drawings.  Typical watermain project in a suburban/rural area can be done without inclusion of profile.  The main reasons are they mains are typically smaller diameter (16-inch and less), bury depths are minimal (6-feet max.) and can be adjusted if needed, 3and the pipe route is flexible.  If an obstruction is located on the route, the pipe can be easily redirected over/under or around the obstruction.

    Installations in urban areas where many utility conflicts can (and will) occur, should include profiles.  If the main is in a dedicated corridor, profile can be limited to areas where crossing drains/sewers/gas mains/electrical conduits/buried rail tracks/etc.,. can cause problems.  Crossing major culverts is another area where a partial profile will be useful to the Contractor and Field Engineers.

    One thing I have found is many profiles are based on less than accurate utility company record data. For most part, record data is probably worse than showing nothing at all. Incorrect or incomplete profiles (showing only some existing utilities) can be a door opener during a litigation if problems arise.

    It comes down to common sense. If you are in clear area, profiles not required.  If you in an urban area, you may want to include some or all areas in profiles.  Need to define exactly what you want to do before signing an Agreement with the Client since profile cost and utility investigations are costly and time consuming.

    Hope this helps.  As you can see, there is no perfect answer.  This is why Civil Engineers make the big money!!!



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    Timothy Stinson P.E., M.ASCE
    PRIN ENG RETIRE
    Holbrook MA
    ------------------------------



  • 24.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 03-12-2020 12:03 PM
    Can only support and agree with Al.  In an effort to save money, someone thinks it is a good idea to give the client a product that is marginal at best?  Take it farther is my recommendation, require as-builts when completed.  Engineering: without profiles, how is one to determine all of the mechanical features required like air-valves, blow-offs, access, valves, etc.  If the product is a gravity system, mandatory. The only exception I see is if pipelines are 1 or 2" diam. and minimal cover.  Then a clear trench section should be provided so that it is known how deep the line is placed. Think ahead to construction, questions, future O&M or expansion.  To save a little on a drawing now, vs. a quality product that will be useful in the future, it is very short sited to only do a plan.  Besides, software now makes profiles simple.

    ------------------------------
    Wylie Duke P.E., M.ASCE
    Manager Water Conveyance Group
    Lakewood CO
    ------------------------------



  • 25.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 03-13-2020 10:24 PM
    Without taking the time to prepare a profile:

    How will the agency know where to locate blowoffs and if there is fisical conflicts or political opposition to the locations, accessibility issues at ground level etc.?

    If there are conflicts with a desirable pipe profile, there will be delays figuring out what the best solution is.  Does the agency care if the pipes are touching, if there are large changes in profile causing join pulls or jogs in vertical profile? Who pays for construction delays?

    Who is checking to make sure future developers can make connections to storm drains, sewers, etc.  Who will be liable.  In some states the use of the public right-of-way can't exclude others from using the street for the common good.  My staff approved plans for a large fiber optic utility bank.  When the contractor decided to do his own thing with respect to the alignment I enforced that they had to poke holes through their facilities and provide sleeves for any customer that needed to pass through to reach the sewer and water mains.  They had basically built a wall down the street precluding any reasonable utility crossings instead of the box shaped duct structure we had approved.   

        In my opinion a responsible agency manages the public right-of-way for the benefit of all.  The contractor will have to figure out the vertical alignment or risk conflicts having to relay pipe or order different components.  This will mean project delays that can eliminate profits.  The agency is just passing risk along with control to the contractor. The best a reputable contractor can hope for is a well thought out project that has no delays or change orders.   When that is not the norm you will attract parasitic contractors that  are good at manipulation.  That will mean higher bids and more change orders. There is no gain here for the public in the long run.  

        










  • 26.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?

    Posted 03-21-2020 05:59 AM
    Regarding keeping the main in service during construction.  San Diego Highlines all serviced at the curb so we can replace the main in place.  The State is strict about main separations of ten feet face to face to storm drain and sewer mains.  Having to move the main may not be possible.  This also eliminates the issue of cutting through mains, maybe the wrong one, and issues with meeting grade at intersections.  It may make the work easier for the contractor having the services out of the way.  Consider bidding the job both ways.  The only caution is to limit the number of fire hydrants that are out of service at any given time.