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1998-05-07 12:01:44


Water in Colorado Springs


Colorado Springs. It has such a nice sound to it. Springs. As in water.

They'll need it.

The thing that pushed me into high gear on y2k was a posting on Peter de Jager's forum on December 6, 1996. Martyn Emery reported on a visit he had made to an unnamed English city. He had asked a local manufacturer how many of the factory's processes depended on water. At least 50, he was told. Then he visited the local water utility. He asked: "Are you Year 2000 compliant?" They had not begun the repair.

In January, 1997, I put up this site. I have donated 20 to 30 hours a week to it ever since.

Here is a recent posting on de Jager's site. It confirms Emery's observation, except that it is now 18 months later.

* * * * * * * *

Date: Wed, 06 May 1998

I'm scared. When I read Yourdon and other experts who are predicting dire consequences in the year 2000, I thought that they were overstating the issue for dramatic effect, and to sell books. After just completing a tour of the city of Colorado Springs water treatment plant, I do not think that the problem has been overstated.

We have an amazing water treatment plant here. They have modernized and improved it over the last thirty years till it is considered one of the best in the country. Where all controls and functions were performed by hand in the past, almost all of it is controlled by computers. They have weather satellite access to monitor incoming storms (which effect demand and supply), stream level sensors relayed back via satellite, and computer monitored and controlled pumps and pressure sensors throughout the 2,000+ miles of water supply pipe. Runs very efficiently. Today.

At the end of their presentation, I asked about their Year 2000 preparations. They had little to offer, except that their main computer was a VAX running VMS, and that they were going to upgrade the OS to level 8 at some point which they had been told would make them Y2K compliant. They have done no other work on the issue! But, "they had a committee which will meet tomorrow for the first time to begin planning." With all the computers I saw in every lab and office, all the sensors and embedded systems, all the radio, microwave, telephone and satellite communications, all the pump and valve controls and sensors they bragged about, I have little hope that a committee meeting for the first time tomorrow will complete all of its work in a year and a half. Drinking water may become a valuable commodity in the year 2000.

After asking about the Y2K problem, the four other people on the tour asked what I was referring to. None of them had heard of it. When I very briefly explained, only one of the four paid attention, the others quickly went on to chatting about other things. I take two lessons from this: each of us on this list must go out and find out if "our suppliers" are doing their Y2K work. We must also work to inform the rest of our communities if we want to have any hope of averting disaster.

-- Opinions are my own and not those of my employer. --

Richard T. Blackburn, Sr. Prog. Analyst

Federal Express Corp., SMS/USC, (719)262-1830

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