Halifax initiates valve replacement program with success

Wachs Water Services recently gave the Canadian municipal water sector an impressive demonstration of how their unique approach, field experience and mechanical advantage could coax non-functioning valves back to operational life.

Truck-mounted hydraulic valve exerciser.

Wachs’ secret weapon is the TM-7, a proprietary truck-mounted hydraulic valve exerciser.

Halifax Water recently found itself in a jubilant mood after freeing up a significant amount of dollars originally earmarked for valve replacement within its capital budget.

Members of the engineering and operations department of Halifax Water delivered the good news when it was revealed that a sampling of targeted critical line valves thought to be inoperable were found to be operable, thanks to the field experience, mechanical advantage and valve exercising expertise of Wachs Water Services, a division of Pure Technologies.

Halifax Water is the first regulated water and wastewater/stormwater utility in Canada, serving more than 80,000 customers in the Halifax Regional Municipality. In October 2015, the water utility called on Wachs Water Services to conduct a pilot inspection/rehabilitation program on a series of valves, some installed in the late 1800s, along a critical stretch of large-diameter cast iron  transmission mains located within the downtown core of the port city.

Twenty seven critical line valves, one clear objective

Halifax Water set a clear objective: visit the location of critical large diameter valves, determine their status and if not working, make the valves work.

Considering the fact that a mid to large-diameter line valve buried in an urban environment could easily cost well beyond $100,000 to replace, the value in restoring function to these derelicts was very clear, notwithstanding the unit cost and operational factors related to road closures, traffic control, digging, service disruption and repaving the roads.

While Halifax Water knew these valves were critical and assumed to be seized or non-functioning, the extent of damage and repairs needed was unknown.

valve exercise results

 Considering that a large diameter line valve could easily cost beyond $100,000 to replace, Halifax Water was pleased with the valve exercise results.

Proven methods, trusted technology and the patience of a monk

With assistance provided by the operations department at Halifax Water, the team from Wachs Water Services used a combination of proven methods, experienced field staff, trusted truck-mounted hydraulic valve exerciser and practised persistence to address the City’s challenge.

Over the duration of the two-week project, 27 critical valves were assessed, 16 were found to be working and 11 were frozen shut of which 9 were returned to full operation. In one instance, it took nearly 700 foot-pounds of torque and the patience of a monk to free the stubborn valve.

In another instance, one uncooperative valve showed clear signs of extensive damage, including a missing a gearbox, operating nut, not to mention, a bent operating shaft—clearly a very dead valve.

Pete Olson Jr., Wachs Water Services project manager on the Halifax project, had no doubt on the services provided.

“We’re eternal optimists, and we love a challenge, which is why we’ll never quit on a valve… we’ll do whatever it takes to get it up and operating.”

Greater value, more confidence, convincing compliance

Halifax Water has a contingent capital replacement plan for their valves identified as non-functional or broken. For every valve made operational by Wachs, the Halifax Water realized a direct per unit cost savings.

Not only did the task free up capital replacement dollars for other tasks, the exercise gave Halifax Water  new confidence in managing their assets, as Wachs Water Services was also able to tag the valves, deliver GIS data, and update the system.

With the line valves back in operation Halifax Water was able to reduce the isolation footprint required for planned and unplanned shutdowns and better understand the hydraulics of the water system.

The project highlights the value of embracing a proactive valve assessment using a suite of best practices, field expertise and proprietary mechanical technology. Halifax Water has proven not only its diligence, but its commitment to municipal water stewardship.