Great Lakes Water Authority, Wayne State University to develop water pipeline management education program

(UI) — The Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA) has partnered with Wayne State University to develop its Workforce Development and Pipe Management Program, which will help recruit, teach and graduate the next generation of water pipeline managers. The two-year program will begin July 1, 2024, and will be supported by a contract totaling more than $480,000.

Dr. Chris Eamon, professor of civil and environmental engineering at Wayne State University, will lead a workforce development and pipe management program funded by the Great Lakes Water Authority.

The GLWA says that water utilities are experiencing significant employee recruitment, training and retention challenges. An additional concern is the availability of specialized technical training that addresses recent technological advances in the water sector. In response to these challenges, the Workforce Development and Pipe Management Program (PMP) will form a large-diameter pipe training and research center to address the immediate and long-term needs of the GLWA.

Chris Eamon, Ph.D., professor of civil and environmental engineering at Wayne State University, will be the inaugural director of the program. He will work to develop the program to support its long-term operations and management.

“Ultimately, we want to increase the number of knowledgeable engineers and utility workers in the workforce,” said Eamon. “This will mean fewer failures in our pipeline systems because we will have a larger number of highly skilled professionals maintaining them. It will also mean a more efficient use of the resources that we have. In the last decade, the water sector has seen many retirements, and our infrastructure has had an increased need of trained workers in this area.

“It’s not just a local problem, but it is a national trend. We’re starting to see significant deterioration in the water supply infrastructure, particularly in areas that were historically under-funded.”

The GLWA owns, operates and maintains more than $26 billion worth of large-diameter pipelines – more than 800 miles of pipes larger than four feet in diameter – that distribute water throughout Southeast Michigan. The GLWA provides water to more than 40% of the state’s population.

“Pipeline systems are the most misunderstood and neglected assets of any utility,” said John Norton, Ph.D., director of research and transformation for GLWA. “It's the sad fact of ‘out of sight, out of mind’ — until they fail, and then everyone is frustrated by the inconvenience until it's fixed, and then it goes back to being completely ignored.

“We are proud to partner with Wayne State, an outstanding Detroit-centered research institution, to help us develop both the tools and techniques of pipeline management, as well as to recruit, train and graduate our future workforce.”

The PMP will have four primary directives: water industry workforce development, implementation of applied research focused on pipe failures and renewal of legacy pipe; program growth and advancement; and establishment of a large-diameter pipe boneyard facility for education, training, and research purposes.

 “The rating from the American Society of Civil Engineers regarding the nation’s infrastructure makes this project of the utmost importance to Michigan and beyond,” said Ali Abolmaali, dean of the College of Engineering at Wayne State University.

“Wayne State University’s College of Engineering, in partnership with GLWA, will employ the latest technological developments through this research and education project to address the water infrastructure needs and train professionals in the field.”


Related News

From Archive


{{ error }}
{{ comment.comment.Name }} • {{ comment.timeAgo }}
{{ comment.comment.Text }}