When a person visits a doctor for an injury, the MD will likely suggest some form of rehabilitation as the first course of action rather than opting for the more invasive surgery. The same mentality should hold true when looking at underground infrastructure, with pipe relining being the suggested rehab for aging water and sewer networks.
By relining, as opposed to re-laying, the owner is rehabilitating the pipe to like-new condition using any number of methods including sliplining, cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP), fold-and-form and spray-on liners. Sanitary and storm sewers have long been the poster children for the trenchless relining marketplace, especially for the use of CIPP methods, but that way of thinking is changing as technology continues to evolve and the needs of utility owners change.
“Although CIPP is widely accepted, the most common problems that prevent system owners from looking at CIPP relining is a general lack of knowledge of how the product works, the procedures surrounding the installation and cure of the product and unfamiliarity with the cost in today’s marketplace,” says Mike Marburger, Owner of Insight Pipe Contracting L.P. The full-service sewer maintenance company is headquartered in Harmony, Pa., and counts trenchless rehabilitation among its specialities. “There are also some system owners who would rather dig and replace deteriorating infrastructure or use trenchless techniques other than CIPP lining. Although these techniques do have a place in some applications, the system owners may not be aware of the benefits of CIPP lining over other trenchless techniques in certain applications.”
Education a Priority
This is where education is a No. 1 priority and organizations like NASTT, NASSCO and ASCE, to name a few, come into play. The organizations all work to educate not only those on the contracting side of the industry, but utility owners and engineers to the benefits of the various methods available. The professional organizations are also at the core of standardization in inspection, design and testing.
“Many do not understand how CIPP work is a process requiring a blending of field activities and materials coming together to provide a finished product. Materials (resin and tubes) have evolved, but one of the most significant areas of improvement has been the education of specifiers and the construction inspector,” says John Jurgens, Senior Civil Engineer for Seattle Public Utilities and a long-time proponent of trenchless technology.
In the early days of trenchless, those construction inspectors were mostly observers, watching a street project one day and something called a “trenchless” project the next. If a project went wrong, it led to a poor experience with trenchless and utility owners were reluctant to return.
“Today however, with better specifications with a thorough submittal review by knowledgeable personnel and alert inspectors, the industry is seeing a lower risk of a poor experience,” Jurgens says. “One key will always be to ensure the solution chosen is proper to the problem attempting to be solved. Lining should be considered as ‘one of the tools’ not the ‘only tool.’ Capacity and structural issues should always require greater assessment with the potential of excavation, pipe bursting or other activities as a solution.”
Jurgens adds that as well known as CIPP is in the marketplace, it can be over-marketed and over-sold. More importantly, when dealing with utilities where the lowest bid wins, quality sometimes suffers and when it does, so does the industry overall. For continued growth of the relining market, Jurgens emphasizes the need for good specifications and good inspections.
Planned and Engineered Construction Inc., of Helena, Mont., specializes in CIPP projects with a service area covering the western United States. Company President Chris Peccia says his company has seen the most growth in storm drain and culvert lining, with the large volume of sanitary sewer relining continuing to stay relatively constant.
“Since our inception in the early 1990s, the quality and availability of lining materials has drastically improved.
There are many quality material manufacturers today, which give contractors many options, and material delivery times have been greatly reduced,” Peccia says. “The different material options have made it easier for new contractors to enter the industry, which has resulted in market growth and has also allowed us to operate more efficiently and increase production.”
Insight Pipe celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2014 and since the company’s inception, Marburger has witnessed first-hand the growth of the CIPP market first on the sanitary side and then on the storm side.
“We are also starting to see a pickup in growth in the force main and water line market,” Marburger says. “The offerings have improved through enhancements in the inversion process (through the use of air inversion shooters vs. traditional water inversions), as well as the ability to effectively steam cure a CIPP liner, as opposed to traditional water cure, which, in most cases, improves production. The offerings have also improved through the development of new products such as fiberglass reinforced CIPP liners and UV-cured liners.”
In terms of the CIPP market, ultraviolet-cured (UV-cured) lining is seeing growth as more products — Aries Inc. launched its Anaconda UV curing system in 2015 — and contractors — Ted Berry Co. recently added Reline America’s UV offerings to its services — enter the marketplace.
“UV is a different way of curing and controlling the process of installing a CIPP liner and this technology application in the United States has helped trenchless rehabilitation continue to grow and be applied in applications of varying complexity,” says Matt Timberlake, President of Ted Berry Co. Before adding the UV process, the company’s foray into CIPP was via sectional point repairs. The level of control the UV process provides — being able to cure with UV light and have a camera in the liner before and during the cure, as well as no need for steam or water — helped Ted Berry make the decision to offer a full CIPP process.
“We offer a full suite of trenchless services and [we] were looking for what the next generation solution for both sanitary sewer and storm drain rehabilitation would be and based,” Timberlake says. “[Based] on how the markets have changed in European markets in the past decade, we felt strongly that applying this technology in the United States would help grow not only the trenchless market but our business, as well.”
With a variety of relining options available, it’s important for a utility owner to know the condition of their assets and if relining is even an option. It doesn’t’ make sense to reline an entire sewer segment because of one or two leaks; just as it doesn’t make sense to wait for a system to get so bad that the only alternative is new pipe.
That’s where asset management comes into play and one of the cornerstones of any asset management system is CCTV. This allows a system owner to better focus money where it is needed, and then determine which approach, or approaches, will get the job done in the most cost-effective manner.
“If you start with an asset management approach — know your inventory, know your condition and know what the value of that system is — then you can make capital improvement plans from there,” Timberlake says. “The only way you can do that effectively is with a camera inspection program.”
Marburger agrees, “The CCTV industry has helped improved the relining industry through improvements in technology such as pan and tilt cameras and remotely adjustable focus. This has made it significantly easier to determine whether or not a lateral is capped or active. Conventional lateral cutting equipment has also improved; allowing pan and tilt capabilities to better review the quality of lateral reinstatement cuts. Transportable cutters, although still in their nascent stage, have significantly improved production. Also, the NASSCO standard for coding defects has really helped clearly indicate pipes that require repair, which has facilitated increased demand for CIPP lining.”
Many in the industry lauded NASSCO’s Pipeline Assessment and Certification Program (PACP) standards as one of the drivers for the growth in the trenchless rehabilitation industry by providing common, usable, defect codes. Utility owners can take this information, plug it into GIS or asset management systems, and then have a real-time view of the assets.
“CCTV continues to be the most reliable tool used to evaluate and confirm a pipe’s condition,” Jurgens says. “Being a CCTV operator in Seattle is a demanding position as the job includes everything from repairing cameras and cables, dodging traffic, public relations with an interested public and their most important function — accurate coding.
Coding is critical as the data goes through an algorithm which then alerts the asset management teams which pipes require a next level of review. Seattle Public Utilities has an ongoing weekly, monthly and quarterly QA/QC coding program for its CCTV teams.”
A Look Ahead
As utility owners take a deeper look at the assets, where do these industry veterans see a potential for growth? The simple answer is everywhere.
With infrastructure failing daily across the country there does not appear to be an end to sanitary and storm systems’ reign as the big dogs on the relining block, but as technologies improve and become more cost-effective, the lateral, pressure pipe and manhole relining sectors are poised to grow, as well.
Both Marburger and Peccia are closely watching the pressure pipe and water pipe lining technologies as potential areas for growth.
“Pressure pipe lining presents a whole different set of challenges than gravity sewers,” Peccia says. “When you’ve been in business as long as we have, new and challenging projects are always appealing.”
Timberlake agrees that pressure pipes, including sewer force mains and water mains, have the opportunity to grow as relining technologies continue to emerge, but the one growth area he has his focus on is rehabilitating the entire sewer system including the mainline, the lateral and the mainline to lateral connection.
“One of the next big nuts that need to be cracked in the United States is the mainline to the lateral and lateral pipe rehab,” Timberlake says. “Although there are many technologies that exist to deal with the mainline to lateral seal or the lateral, most utility owners are hesitant to look at the entire system being from the house to the outfall.”
According to Timberlake, the reasons for this hesitancy is due in part to using public dollars on private land, but there are models out there that prove by fixing laterals a utility reduces infiltration, tightens the system and reduces hydraulic capacity at the treatment plants.
The lateral issue also highlights the need for improved and unbiased education.
“We as an industry must, however, look at things from a utility owner’s perspective sometimes and often there is so much ‘new technology’ that owners simply are hesitant to enter what they perceive as a new or emerging technology simply out of fear of the unknown,” Timberlake says. “Trenchless education is what I would consider as the most important factor for the market including municipal utility owners and managers, consulting engineers, regulators and elected officials. I also believe the industry must stop the negative selling tactics that are detrimental to our industry and our credibility.”
Mike Kezdi is a Contributing Editor of Utility Contractor.