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Nick, the critical issue here is the retention designation "permanent". 

Water and sewer infrastructure tends to be VERY long-lived.

The classic example I like is the water supply system for the ancient city of Rome.

Construction on the system began in the 4th century BCE, and the system was functionally complete by the end of the 2nd century CE.

Parts of the system continued in use until the siege of Rome in the 16th century CE, at which time the last aqueduct was cut.

This water supply system was therefore in continuous use for almost two thousand years.

Another, more recent example is the water supply system for the City of New York. The Croton system (one of three) is more than 100 years old. It is being upgraded by adding a filtration plant, but there are no plans to take it out of service.

So defining the retention of water and sewer infrastructure records is reasonable, but it raises the question of how to ensure they remain accessible and useable for the life of the infrastructure.

As has been discussed many times on this listserv, electronic records have many advantages, but longevity over decades and centuries is not one of them.

Thus the State Archivist's requirement to maintain an analog hard copy (in this case, microfilm), is well-founded.

For those interested in the water supply of ancient Rome, the standard reference is "De aquae urbis Romae" by Frontinus, Sextus Julius (? - 103/104 AD). Frontinus was Rome's water commissioner (curator aquarum) at the end of the 1st Century AD under the emperors Nerva and Trajan. 

"De aquae urbis Romae" is available for free in translation from several sources. See http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Frontinus/De_Aquis/text*.html and http://www.waterhistory.org/histories/frontinus/.

Best regards.

Fred Grevin


----- Original Message -----
From: Records Management Program <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tue Jun 08 13:29:23 2010
Subject: [RM] Permanent Records

I would like to get the communities opinion on something I have come across 
lately. 

As an employee in a sales and consultation role, it is my job to drum up new 
business. I prefer to network rather than cold call, so my approach is to join 
or sponser associations in different industries. 

Recently I joined an association relating to Water and Sewer Districts. While 
exhibiting at a recent tradeshow I was taken by surprise by what some folks 
were telling me in regards to permanent retention. The members relayed to me 
that the State Archivist still requires all permanent records to be submitted to 
the state in a microfiche form. The argument being that in a worst case 
scenario, "we can alway use a flashlight and magnifying lens." I was a little 
shocked because we typically think of microfiche as a dead medium and you 
are lucky if you can find a machine to read them. Most of the calls I receive in 
regards to microfiche, is how to get the records off of the film and into more 
relevant forms such as PDF files, or TIFF images. Needless to say I was even 
more surprised when more and more members relayed the same information. 

How does your organization tackle permanent retention records, and is 
microfiche still a preferred medium in the private sector? Can anyone on the 
state level provide some input? 

My goal is not to imply the state is doing something wrong, but to get some 
other's perspective on the practice of continuing to use microfiche for 
permanent retenion. I'll be the first to admit, I may be out of the loop on this 
one. 

Nick Naubert
[log in to unmask]
Seattle, WA

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