Since 2019, the city of Newark, New Jersey has made their way through an important mission: replacing 24,000 lead service lines (LSLs) within three years and at no direct cost to residents. The success of the Newark LSL replacement program depends on many factors, including seamless coordination with the program team and community stakeholders. For Newark, another important factor includes using innovative tools with some public-facing elements to help plan, communicate, track, and report placements.
The Newark program (managed by CDM Smith) demonstrates how technology can help improve efficiency and lower costs for infrastructure leaders embarking on their own LSL replacement journeys to meet the Lead & Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) compliance in 2024.
Read on to learn more about how helping Newark digitize their lead pipe replacement program served as the foundation for leadCAST, a cloud-based management system for Lead & Copper Rule program management.
Elements to digitizing the Newark LSL replacement program
Developing a digital inventory
Digitizing an LSL replacement program starts by developing a web-based service line material inventory. For Newark, this involved collecting customer data from billing records, parcel information, and tap cards using a low-cost scanning solution and collating into a single database. Newark also had historical geographic information system (GIS) records that identified known LSLs and when coupled with customer data, helped to solidify the service line material inventory.
A predictive model then helped to assess material types for service lines based on the age of each home, line size and location. Verifications made with test pits showed that the predictive model was very accurate at predicting the existence of lead.
Centralizing data in the cloud
Data unification helps to maintain continuous data management throughout the lifecycle of an LSL program. And clean data is critical to having all stakeholders on the same page. Newark leverages a comprehensive cloud-based management system that sits on a centralized database, with Newark-specific configured visualization tools. The system also integrates with purpose-built applications to manage program data and includes features such as:
- A public access inventory map
- Field app for GPS data collection on newly installed lines
- Executive dashboard for real-time progress
- Mobile application for on-site access and data entry
- Digital customer access agreements
- Prioritization map including paving schedule and equity functionality including information regarding the elderly, school-age children, and disadvantaged communities)
- Bottled water and filter distribution tracking
- Post replacement water tap sample tracking
Providing a community-accessible digital platform
The Newark LSL replacement program cannot be executed on its own and relies on participation and collection of valuable data from the community. As such, a publicly accessible website was integrated with the overall digital management system. Newark’s ratepayer-facing website provides constant updates on lead sampling results, neighborhood meetings, and serves as a registration portal for community members to expedite replacements on their property. More importantly, an address lookup tool and real-time replacement tracker provide the latest LSL program status.
How leadCAST was created
Newark’s complex LSL replacement program was identified early on by Trinnex and CDM Smith as an outstanding model for other water service providers to emulate, especially in the wake of the LCRR 2024 compliance deadline.
Inspired by the digital innovations used for Newark, Trinnex identified critical functionality to serve as the groundwork for a new kind of software built by water experts for water experts. The software is leadCAST and it’s meant to help system owners answer some crucial questions:
- Where do we start to collect service line material data and how do we centralize our findings?
- How do find out what level of effort it will take to achieve compliance, especially if we don’t have the cleanest data?
- Do we need a full-on lead service line replacement program with sampling requirements?
- If we don’t have lead in our system, how do we still show our community that we’re on top of things and are in full LCRR compliance?
- How can we easily report on our replacement program progress?
leadCAST provides a flexible, simple interface for mandatory compliance with all aspects of LCRR. The cloud-based application has been built with the “been there/done that” know-how of software engineers and water professionals who have been leading the way in Lead and Copper Rule compliance for decades and have hands-on experience working on countless complex and challenging efforts like the Newark project.
Schedule a leadCAST demo today to learn more.