Case Study

To manage remaining useful life of a critical metallic force main, City of Cape Girardeau deploys SmartBall® as screening tool for condition assessment to identify gas pockets and high likelihood areas of internal corrosion.

Desktop studies commonly incorporate data such a pipe material, class, age, and failure history to assist in preliminary condition assessment programs without someone necessarily ever seeing the pipeline. Utilities often use desktop data as an initial step to help shape a management strategy.

For a higher level of condition assessment data, the health of a pipeline can be determined by combining desktop studies with an inline SmartBall leak and gas pocket survey, leading to focused test pits in areas where gas pockets indicate potential internal corrosion, the most common cause of ductile iron force main failure.

As proof of concept, Pure Technologies used the free-flowing SmartBall platform as part of a recent DIP force main condition assessment for City of Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

Project Details

SmartBall leak and gas pocket survey

Condition assessment aided by SmartBall gas pocket location

Field service verification

Ultrasonic Thickness (UT) Testing for structural evaluation

Remaining Useful Life (RUL) analysis

Pipe Material
Ductile Iron Pipe (DIP) HDPE
Inspection Length
3 miles (4.8 km)
20-in (500mm) & 24-in (600mm)
Transmission Type

Project Highlights

3 miles total distance inspected

26 gas pockets detected

5 pipes excavated, visually inspected and wall thickness measurements obtained

RUL data determined failures may occur within 2 years where gas pockets detected and 15 to 30 years where gas pockets were not present


The City of Cape Girardeau (Cape G) proactively manages 550 miles of water and wastewater pipelines for a population of nearly 40,000.

In January 2017, Cape G retained the services of Pure Technologies to field verify and further assess the condition of the Riverfront Force Main, a three-mile pipeline comprised of 20 and 24-inch ductile iron pipe (DIP), with a few replacement sections of HDPE.

Cape G had experienced a failure on Riverfront Force Main on the Memorial Day weekend of 2016. As the force main is relatively new (installed in 2000) and runs along the Mississippi River, the condition assessment of the non-redundant main was critical for the City.

What solutions did Pure Technologies and Cape G come up with to solve this challenge? Find out and explore the results we achieved together by downloading the full case study below.


On Thursday May 17, thought-leaders, leading utilities, and other industry experts, came together for Xylem’s Modernizing Water Infrastructure Workshop in Laurel, MD. Like Infrastructure Week, the event served as a platform for innovators to connect, discuss, and inspire water industry professionals to solve the problems associated with managing water infrastructure. If you were unable to attend, here are some of the highlights of the day.

From Manure To Modern

The morning session focused on utilities, and began with a keynote presentation from industry visionary, George Hawkins, who provided an energetic analogy on how the manure crisis of the 1800s compares to our current water crisis. While the common person only saw the problem of horse manure, the engineers of the 1800s saw the potential for change and created the car, which eliminated the problem while increasing productivity and reducing costs. That’s what we, as an industry, need to focus on as we modernize water infrastructure — seeing the potential for greatness and improvement through innovation.

Hawkins went on to discuss how we report efficiency. If everything is measured in a productivity approach, seeking additional funding becomes easier. Money has gone farther than ever before in the water infrastructure industry because of the advancements in technology that allow us to work more efficiently and accurately. People are prepared to invest in something that matters to them, especially when they understand that the current monies are going further, and you can prove it. Listen to part of Hawkins’ presentation:

100 Years of Continuous Improvement

Following Hawkins’ passionate keynote address, we heard from Glen Diaz, Division Manager of Water/Wastewater Systems Assessment at WSSC. As WSSC (Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission) celebrates their 100-year anniversary, Diaz reflected on the advancements in technology through the years.

Even in the past 10 years, things have greatly improved in the water industry. Diaz cited the 66” water main break in Bethesda, MD in 2008 and how current technology can aid in preventing future incidents. Diaz went on to discuss how most PCCP failures are due to broken wires and how noisy pipes are typically problem pipes.

However, now, WSSC workers receive mobile alerts, through the implementation of Pure Technologies AFO system, as soon as wire breaks occur so they can address any cause for concern. This system has already helped WSSC avert 20 failure events to date, a $21 million dollar savings on the conservative side! See Diaz’s presentation here:

With Challenge, Comes Major Opportunity

After hearing from WSSC, we heard from Jody Caldwell, Asset Management Director for Great Lakes Water Authority (GLWA), on building an asset management program from the (under) ground up.

Caldwell began with an overview of some of the organizational challenges GLWA is experiencing being a relatively new utility. He talked about the process GLWA went through putting together a 10-year strategic roadmap focused on continuous improvement to overcome the challenges and build a utility for the future. Caldwell went on to discuss GLWA’s pipeline risk management strategy, which uses a quantitative, risk-based analysis to drive decisions. This tiered approach allows them to easily calculate their risk return on investment and ultimately, become a best-in-class pipeline management system. Catch the end of Caldwell’s presentation, as well as the Q&A session.

Extreme Preparation for Extreme Weather

After a brief networking break, there was a roundtable discussion that focused on how leading utilities dealt with the extreme weather conditions this past January. The roundtable featured (from left to right) Joseph Mantua, Deputy General Manager Operations at WSSC; Carlos A. Espinosa, Chief of the Office Of Asset Management at Baltimore City Department of Public Works; and Buddy Morgan, General Manager at Montgomery Water Works (Alabama). Who said the South doesn’t experience cold weather.

The discussion began with the question, “Were there particular pipe materials you found to be problematic during the extreme winter, and if so, what were they?” For the City of Montgomery, AL, cast iron mains had the most problems. Baltimore City was no different, reporting that 98% of the water main breaks were in cast iron pipes, the majority of which were 12” or smaller. WSSC confirmed the cast iron trend, with the majority of breaks occurring in 6 or 8 inch diameter pipes.

In order to prepare for next winter, the utilities agreed for the need to ensure that all their equipment is in working order ahead of time, and have conversations with their crews and contractors to make sure they’re prepared to respond, and recognize the need for additional support services and how to best utilize them. Additionally, the panel agreed that social media played a crucial role in real-time communications with customers, aiding them in being proactive with the media, and helping to communicate status updates. Watch the beginning portion of the roundtable discussion:

The discussion moved on to how to keep employees engaged during extreme weather conditions. Aside from the generous overtime benefits, WSSC brought hot meals to workers, while Alabama Water Works limited hours per week to 65 with 24 hours off before coming back. They also held celebratory cookouts once the weather warmed up.

Be Best-In-Class

After lunch, the afternoon sessions focused on technologies and management best practices. Pure’s very own Mike Higgins, Senior Vice President, Americas, talked about buried infrastructure philosophies utilities can use to manage their most valuable assets. Mike kicked-off his presentation by sharing statistics from the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

Following these eye-opening numbers, Higgins shared his insights on success for professionals in the water industry.
Key questions utilities need to answer include:

  • Why do you want to assess your pipeline?
  • What are the goals for your project or program?


Typically, the answers should focus on one or more of the following areas:

1) Averting pipeline failure
2) Reducing pipeline risk
3) Extending the life of an asset
4) Increasing sustainability
5) Optimizing CAPEX/TOTEX (capital/total expenditure)

Higgins then shared his secret recipe for the 10 key ingredients to be a best-in-class utility:
1) Focus on operations excellence
2) Coordinate with all key stakeholders
3) Perform necessary Public Relations
4) Create a clearly defined team across departments and disciplines
5) Always aspire towards total pipeline management
6) Prepare for emergencies, they will occur
7) Be opportunistic
8) Continue to innovate
9) Understand limitations of innovative approaches
10) Keep your boots on the ground (maximize the amount of inspected pipe)
He concluded his presentation talking about the importance of monitoring key performance indicators (KPIs) and keeping senior leadership engaged. Watch Higgins’ presentation:

The 4th Industrial Revolution

Richard Loeffler IV, Client Solutions Architect at Emnet, then reminded us that the number one criteria for where cities locate is the access to water. Loeffler also stated that we are in the midst of a 4th industrial revolution—IoT (Internet of Things) is changing the way we live, work, and play, and is transforming the fundamental economic cost structure of water and related civic works.

He used the example of South Bend, IN, to illustrate just how effective IoT and RTDSS (real-time decision support systems) can be. Ultimately, it’s all about environmental stewardship — it’s not just about saving money, but about doing the right thing for the world that we live in. View Loeffler’s presentation:

Smart Water

Following Loeffler’s informative presentation, Bridget Berardinelli, VP Product Management And Continuous Improvement for Xylem, stated how smart meters and applying analytics can help utilities generate real results. Berardinelli began by explaining how Sensus develops advanced technology solutions that enable the intelligent use of critical resources.

She covered Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) and explained how to leverage it in order to increase operational efficiencies and improve scalability and flexibility. By delivering machine learning and analytics using a programmatic approach, Sensus is able to inform operational interventions that transform how water utilities operate. View her presentation:

Our Newest Solution

Concluding Berardinelli’s presentation, we heard from Pure Technologies Area Regional Manager, Susan Donnally, on how to manage large diameter water transmission mains. She began her presentation with a discussion on pipeline risk prioritization, stating that using data to drive decisions is a quintessential part of moving towards a proactive asset management approach. She then dove into why pipes fail; noting that age alone is a poor indicator of pipe condition. While there is no singular technology that can identify all of the indicators of pipe deterioration, a holistic, risk-based approach can help.

Donnally then moved on to highlight some of Pure’s latest technology innovations:

  • SmartBall® – in addition to leak and gas pocket detection, the tool now provides mapping, which combines data collected during an inspection with known, aboveground locations and pipeline drawings to create a field-generated GIS map of a pipeline.
  • PipeDiver® – Pure’s free-swimming condition assessment tool is now available with video and can easily correlate the data you’re getting from electromagnetics with actual footage.


Additionally, Donnally had a huge reveal! She introduced Pure’s newest PipeDiver solution, the PipeDiver UltraTM (currently in the beta testing phase with a couple of clients), which features high-resolution wall condition information for metallic pipes, such as cast iron, ductile iron, and steel, and is as easy to deploy as the existing PipeDiver. Watch her presentation:

You’re Not Going to Start with Perfection

Vice President of PureAnalytics, Travis Wagner, gave the final presentation of the day on managing distribution systems.

He truly engaged the audience by asking attendees to raise their hands if:

  • They saw a need or value in a pipeline renewal program
  • They agreed that a 10-20% efficiency in renewal programs is OK
  • They thought customer affordability was an issue
  • They had trouble with retirements and recruiting

Not surprisingly, most hands were raised! From there, Wagner went on to urge everyone to update their approach.

Utilities need to start asking themselves the following questions:

  • What is the current state of my assets?
  • What is my required level of service?
  • Which assets are critical to sustained performance?
  • What are my best O&M and CIP investment strategies?
  • What is my best long-term funding strategy?

Wagner concluded this portion of the presentation with a quote that all utilities should follow: “You’re not going to start with perfection, the goal is to build toward becoming better.”

Next, Wagner moved on to discuss risk management, consequence probability analysis, data collection, and risk mitigation. It was truly an eye-opening presentation:

The day concluded with demonstrations of all the latest technology available to utilities, including a 108” PipeDiver, SoundPrint® AFO system, Sensus meters, Visenti software demos, not to mention some great networking.

Want to learn more about our Modernizing Water Infrastructure Workshop? Check out #H2018Workshop on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.


Spokane is touted as one of the most beautiful and future-forward cities in North America.

Replacement programs for risky aging mains are often far more complicated and expensive than anticipated. 

While it may seem like the simplest solution for a utility, replacement programs for risky aging mains are often far more complicated and expensive than anticipated. Seldom is the original estimate close to the final price tag.

As the City of Spokane (City) recently found out, high risk is often driven by a lack of data or poor data. Moreover, age rarely correlates with condition. According to the American Society of Engineers, 96 percent of underground pipe is good condition. Of the remaining 4 percent, only one percent has significant damage that warrants replacement. The challenge is to determine the location of the individual damaged assets.

The City of Spokane recognized this fact going into a condition assessment program for two of their critical aging transmission mains, the 24-inch Manito Transmission Main and the 18/24/30-inch 57Th Avenue Transmission Main, which run through residential and commercial areas, and a historic park. Together, the pipelines service two of the City’s pressure zones, which have a combined annual demand of approximately 21 percent of water to the City’s entire water system.

The mains in question were constructed of steel in the 1960s. For this material, the failure modes are most often related to corrosion, corrosion combined with cyclic loading, manufacturing or construction/third party damage.

The mains assessed were constructed of steel in the 1960s

The mains assessed were constructed of steel in the 1960s.

First step: gathering condition assessment data.

The first step in understanding a pipeline is to evaluate the design of the pipeline under actual internal pressures, external loading and current design standards. Managing these critical assets takes a confident management strategy, which includes gathering condition assessment data and evaluating the results using advanced engineering analytics.

As the scope of the proposed assessment was broad, the City retained the services of Pure Technologies (Pure) to deploy a multitude of technologies to determine the condition of the mains.

24-Detector PipeDiver tool

A 24-detector PipeDiver tool was deployed for an electromagnetic wall thickness evaluation.

Recommended internal inspections consisted of SmartBall® acoustic leak detection and PipeDiver® electromagnetic wall thickness evaluation and video recordings. At the same time, Pure used transient pressure monitoring to determine hydraulic loading conditions of the pipelines.

In addition, Pure performed external observations using Pulsed Eddy Current (PEC) and Ultrasonic Thickness (UT) Gauging technologies during excavations of the 57Th Avenue Transmission Main.

Pure also conducted a structural analysis to determine the wall thickness required if the pipelines were designed today under actual internal pressures and external loading. Pure also performed three-dimensional finite element analysis (FEA) performance curves to determine the combination of corrosion depth and length would exceed the Yield Limit of the steel.

Finally, Pure also performed remaining useful life (RUL) analysis of the 57th Avenue Transmission Main to predict wall loss degradation rates and recommend re-inspection intervals, as part of its decision intelligence solutions.

Challenges included nighttime work with traffic control and rain.

Indefatigable crews faced night-time work with traffic control, relentless rain and sloppy conditions.

Project challenges included non-existent lay sheets. 

The project was not without challenges, starting with poor data — an outdated plan and profile drawings and non-existent lay sheets.  For the inspection, crews also faced a survey route with no existing features for tool insertion and extraction, two inline 24-inch butterfly valves, nighttime work with traffic control, and rain. Lots of rain.

While no one could anticipate all the challenges during the planning stage, the engineering experience of the project teams and collaborative dialogue between Pure and the City ensured a working solution for most unforeseen events, with contingencies in place.

Testing the PipeDiver through a butterfly valve

To ensure a smooth execution, the City provided a similar 24-inch butterfly valve to test the PipeDiver passage.

As mentioned, lots of pre-inspection discussion occurred to minimize risk of the free-flowing 24-detector PipeDiver tool getting stuck at the butterfly valves (BFVs). The City was prepared to dewater the line if necessary. To mitigate additional risk, the City provided a pool in their garage to setup and test the inspection equipment. They also provided a similar 24-inch BFV to test the PipeDiver passage.

All the advance planning paid off. The inspection occurred over 10 days and was executed flawlessly, in spite of the damp weather conditions.

Damaged pipe

Pipe damaged from suspected backhoe bucket teeth during previous excavation.

Two pipes excavated to validate inspection results.

For the Manito Transmission Main, 202 pipes were inspected, with zero leaks and zero electromagnetic anomalies detected.

For the 57th Avenue Transmission Main, Pure inspected 282 pipes. Analysis indicated one (1) leak and three (3) pipes with electromagnetic anomalies. Taken as a whole, analysis indicated 99.4 percent of pipes with no corrosion and 0.6 percent of pipes with anomalies indicative of corrosion.

Based on the EM report, two (2) pipes were excavated to validate results and provide data for a Remaining Useful Life analysis. A third pipe was reported to have corrosion anomalies but was not excavated because of its location the middle of a busy intersection.

Upon excavation, the pipe’s coating was observed to be damaged, which appeared to be caused by bucket teeth from a backhoe during a previous excavation to repair the dresser joint. One of the damaged areas matched the location of the reported EM anomaly perfectly and Pulsed Eddy Current measured 17% wall loss while PipeDiver reported 20%. No wall loss was found at the other areas of damaged coating. The City applied a mastic coating to all areas of damaged coating before burying the pipe.

Excavated pipe

Two pipes were excavated to validate results.

Both pipelines originally scheduled for replacement at expected cost of $7 million.

The City of Spokane originally scheduled both pipelines to be replaced at an expected cost of $7 million dollars. After inspection project expenses, the remaining funds can now be applied to other capital projects, which makes this a good news story.

Moreover, with the analysis in, and the repairs made, the City of Spokane now has confident information to plan and move forward with periodic inspections.