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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 purchasing@...
    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 04-09-2019 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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  • 4.  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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  • 5.  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.

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    Will Bulloss
    Principal Engineer - Civil
    Blacksburg VA
    (540) 207-2323
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  • 6.  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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  • 7.  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.  

        










  • 8.  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.  





  • 9.  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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  • 10.  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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  • 11.  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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  • 12.  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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  • 13.  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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  • 14.  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
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  • 15.  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
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  • 16.  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.

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    Will Bulloss
    Principal Engineer - Civil
    Blacksburg VA
    (540) 207-2323
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  • 17.  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
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  • 18.  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.

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    [Al] [Field] Aff.M.ASCE
    [President]
    [Al Field & Associates]
    [Phoenix] [AZ]
    [602-616-3618]
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  • 19.  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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  • 20.  RE: Omitting Profiles from Waterline Construction Plans?