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Case Study

Utilities Kingston – Ontario, Canada

In 2015, Utilities Kingston retained the services of Pure Technologies to perform a condition assessment on the Dalton Avenue (North End) Pump Station Force Mains.

At approximately 35 years, each asset was entering a critical stage of its life-cycle. The purpose of the assessment was to identify the structural condition of the 450mm and 600mm force mains, both of which are approximately 1,550 meters long and follow a parallel route.

The assessment included transient pressure monitoring, a SmartBall® leak and gas pocket detection survey, and a PipeDiver® electromagnetic inspection of the pipeline.

Project Details

SmartBall® leak and gas pocket detection
PipeDiver® electromagnetic inspection
Transient pressure monitoring
Risk of failure evaluation
Pipe Material
Ductile Iron, Steel, Reinforced Concrete
Inspection Length
3.05 kilometers (1.9 miles)
450mm to 600mm (18 inch to 24 inch)
Transmission Type

Project Highlights


3.05 kms cumulative distance of survey


1 acoustic anomaly associated with transient gas (SmartBall inspection)

55 pipes with EM anomalies characteristic of localized wall loss (PipeDiver inspection)


Zero leaks detected



The older of the two force mains is 450mm (18-inch) in diameter, constructed of ductile iron built in the late 1950s, and had failed several times over its lifetime. The newer of the two force mains is 600mm (24-inch) in diameter, built from reinforced concrete (RCP) and steel, with two sections of suspected metallic pipe, which was not confirmed in the profile drawings.

As the pipe material specifics were still unknown at the time of the inspection, Pure Technologies elected to conduct a PipeDiver run to accommodate both possible types of pipe material – assumed by all to be bar wrapped pipe (BWP) and prestressed concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP).

Historically, it has proven challenging to assess the condition of pressurized mains that carry sewage, especially those made with ferrous material. Metallic force mains have special operational challenges that don’t apply to gravity sewer systems, and due to the presence of solids in the flow, force mains represent a far more abrasive environment than potable water systems.

Gas pockets are of significant concern in force mains, as concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gas within wastewater may be subsequently converted to sulfuric acid by bacteria in the slime layer on the pipe wall. This may cause corrosion and eventual breakdown of the pipe’s exposed surface.


Transient pressure monitors were installed on the header of each force main and for nearly five weeks the recorded pressure data was used to understand the operational and surge pressures within the force mains and their impact on the structural integrity of the pipelines.

Utilities Kingston began the initial force main condition assessment by deploying SmartBall technology, a free-flowing multi-sensor tool used to detect and locate the acoustic sounds related to leaks and gas pockets in pressurized pipelines. The tool has the ability to inspect long distances in one run, and requires only two access points, one for insertion and one for extraction. SmartBall is an effective condition assessment tool for force mains, which don’t typically feature butterfly valves, allowing the SmartBall to roll through the line quite easily, collecting acoustical data.

Following the SmartBall run, UK deployed the free-swimming PipeDiver assessment tool, which travels with the product flow, and utilizes flexible petals to navigate butterfly valves, tees and bends in the pipeline. Originally designed for use in pressurized concrete cylinder pipes (PCCP), the tool has specialized electromagnetic sensors (PureEM) to identify and locate broken prestressing wire wraps, (one of the main structural components and failure modes of a prestressed concrete pipe).

Historically, technologies available to assess the condition of metallic pipe have been limited. This led Pure TEchnologies to develop the specialized PipeDiver for metallic pipes, equipped with advanced electromagnetic technology to identify broken bars in bar wrapped pipe, and localized areas of wall loss in BWP, steel and ductile iron.


In the end, one (1) acoustic anomaly characteristic of transient gas on the 450mm force main was identified with data collected during the SmartBall inspection. No acoustic anomalies were identified within the 600mm force main during the SmartBall inspection.

Of the 650 pipes inspected with the PipeDiver tool, a total of 55 pipes in the 450mm Dalton Avenue Pump Station force main had electromagnetic anomalies characteristic of localized wall loss. These results represent a high percentage of distress along the length of the pipeline and indicate a high risk of failure.

Recommendations included an extended period of transient pressure monitoring as the maximum pressures recorded exceed the 600mm RCP design limitations. Utilities Kingston should also review the pressure reducing valves at the pump station and investigate the operating procedures to determine the cause of the transient pressures.

The fact-finding data collected from both the inspections and transient pressure monitoring gave Utilities Kingston a better understanding of their real, not assumed assets. The results, which included a DIP risk of failure analysis, were used to complete a structural evaluation of the force mains, and have provided Utilities Kingston with actionable information regarding any necessary repairs or rehabilitation.