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SAHARA® INLINE TETHERED PIPELINE INSPECTION PLATFORM

The Sahara platform is a tethered inspection tool for assessing pressurized water and wastewater pipelines six inches and larger. The platform detects leaks and gas pockets, collects visual condition, and maps pipelines in a single deployment, without disrupting regular service. With this condition assessment data, pipeline owners can make informed rehabilitation and management decisions on a pipe-by-pipe basis.

With advancements in technology and a willingness to develop proactive pipeline integrity programs, utilities can successfully reduce failures, mitigate risk, reduce capital expenditures, and increase confidence in the overall operation of their force mains.

New standards of best practice for force main management involve a variety of methods and technologies to provide data and information with which to make decisions. Utilities can now often perform a detailed condition assessment while the force main remains in service.

There is no “one-size-fits-all” way of assessing force mains. Any approach should be tailored to risk tolerance, material, diameter and past failure history. Savvy utility managers are turning to programs that reduce damage to assets, prioritize investment to minimize community impact of asset failure, and reduce the consequence of failure by enabling system control.

This white paper will highlight:

  • how to develop a risk-based program
  • the most common modes of failure for force mains
  • how to define which of the three approaches to proactively assessing force mains best fits your goals and risk-tolerance
  • how utilities are finding success using these approaches to: prevent failures, reduce capital expenditures, mitigate risk, optimize budget allocation, and increase confidence and level of service.

Case Study

The Town of Flower Mound, Texas (Town), worked closely with Pure Technologies to conduct a leak and gas pocket detection survey of approximately 1.91 miles of potable water mains, which included nearly 1.4 miles of metallic pipelines. The Town is home to 70,000 residents and manages both the water and sewer utilities within Flower Mound.

THE CHALLENGE

In 2001 the Town suffered an uncontrolled leak and lost pressure to a third of their system for a two-day period due to a valve that could not be located. This led to an asset management program, and through this program, the 3.5 mile potable water main was identified in 2015 as a main due for inspection.

Inspecting metallic pipelines has been a challenge for utilities because historically there have been few assessment solutions available. Utilities often used indirect methods of assuming the condition of the pipeline or replaced based on age and consequence of failure, not on the actual condition of the infrastructure. The Town enlisted the help of Pure Technologies to provide a comprehensive condition assessment of key sections of their steel, ductile iron and BWP pipes in order to make balanced and accurate decisions and improve the reliability of service within the system.

How was Pure Technologies able to help the town of Flower Mound address this challenge? Find out and explore the results we achieved together by downloading the full case study below.

VIDEO CASE STUDY

Project Highlights

17 sections with defects identified

1 leak found

1 air pocked identified

1 undocumented outlet located

1 defect validated and replaced

Project Details

Services
PipeDiver® electromagnetic inspection

Sahara® acoustic leak and gas pocket detection & visual inspection

Structural design review

Transient pressure monitoring

Timing
September 2015 – December 2015
Pipe Material
Steel, Ductile Iron, Bar Wrapped
Inspection Length
3.5 miles (5.6 kilometers)
Diameter
20-30 inches
Transmission Type
Water

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Whitepaper:
Metallic Pipeline Condition Assessment

Today, new advancements in technologies and data analytics are helping utilities build asset management programs using a risk-based approach to pipeline condition assessment with the lowest financial impact.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to assessing metallic pipelines. An approach should be tailored within the context of your risk tolerance while taking into consideration the material, diameter, and past failure history. Many different methods and technologies can be combined to provide data and information to make decisions and prioritize pipelines. The approach can range from do-nothing to a full in-line inspection making targeted repairs and be progressive in nature.

This white paper will highlight:

  • how to develop a risk-based program
  • how to define which of the three approaches to assessing metallic pipe best fits your goals and risk-tolerance
  • how other utilities are finding success using these approaches to: extend remaining useful life, optimize capital expenditures, prevent failures, and increase confidence and level of service.

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

Services
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)
Diameter
20-in (500mm) & 24-in (600mm)
Transmission Type
Wastewater

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 CHALLENGE

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.

Airfield location meant inspection scheduling was booked five months in advance.

Water main inspection to manage the critical assets for the Vancouver International Airport takes months of proactive planning, safety and scheduling.

In the management of a major international airport like Vancouver International Airport (YVR), Vancouver Airport Authority (VAA) operation officials inevitably face a number of unique challenges. Compounding the challenges is the fact that the airport runs as a mini-municipality because of its size and island location within the jurisdiction of the City of Richmond.

When carrying out a water main inspection in an airfield location, strict rules apply to how you operate in that area. A well-executed inspection requires a dedication to planning, safety, and scheduling.

Being an airfield location, a lot of detailed planning went into managing this South Runway Watermain Inspection. We stuck to the schedule, met all milestones, and were extremely pleased with the execution of the safety plan, which was critical in this restricted environment.” Stephen Little, Technical Specialist-Mechanical, Vancouver International Airport.

The water line provides an important service to South Terminal and leased buildings.

Project background

Canada’s second busiest airport, YVR, served 24.2 million passengers in 2017. Last year, VAA engaged Pure Technologies to perform a Sahara® leak and air pocket detection inspection on the South Runway Watermain (SRW). Built in 1966, the SRW is a 350mm water main constructed of asbestos cement that runs from the Airport Field Bulk Water Meter to the South Domestic Terminal for approximately 870m (2850 ft.).

The water line provides an important service to both the South Terminal and leased airport buildings, which include a busy McDonald’s, the Floatplane Terminal, Flying Beaver Bar & Grill and multiple aircraft maintenance facilities. The line also runs along the main airfield, and across some taxiing areas, driving home the point that failure is not an option.

The airport receives water from the City of Richmond, which was also keenly interested in the inspection planning, technology and the outcome.

A multi-purpose inspection

The main purpose of the survey was to assess the condition of the main to identify and accurately locate any leaks or air pockets using the acoustic capabilities of the Sahara leak detection tool. VAA wanted a visual take on the inside of the pipe using the video capabilities of the tool’s CCTV camera. In addition, VAA also wanted to map the bends in the line and take GPS coordinates at select points to update alignment plans.

Another important purpose of the inspection was to eliminate water loss at the airport, a goal initiated by management as part of a proactive environmental program to conserve water. Management wanted to locate areas of potential water loss in their system to help achieve their water reduction targets of 30 percent by 2020.

YVR receives water from the City of Richmond via several bulk meter locations. From here, VAA distributes the water throughout Sea Island. The presence of leaks would have an adverse effect on the airport reaching its water reduction targets.

Tethered Sahara tool is propelled by the product flow and features inline video to observe internal pipe conditions.

Sahara leak detection platform selected

Pure recommended the Sahara leak detection platform for its ability to provide same-day results, and to locate small leaks with sub-meter accuracy. The tethered tool is propelled by a small parachute inflated by the product flow.

The Sahara platform also features inline video that allows operators to observe internal pipe conditions, and in many instances, identify the type of leak and other details helpful for planning a repair before excavating.

 Although this first project was limited in scope and budget, because of the criticality of the line, both Pure and VAA put extra care and planning into efforts to ensure a relatively effortless access and retrieval of the condition assessment tool.

The City of Richmond assisted by removing their aging water meter and installing the flange supplied by the Sahara team for the launch of the tool. The City of Richmond then took the inspection opportunity to upgrade the old meter to a newer ultrasonic model.

Airfield location meant maintaining inspection schedule was critical  

As the line was located in the airfield, maintaining the inspection schedule was critical. Security escorts were required at all times for non-YVR employees, which meant scheduling for the project was booked nearly five months in advance.

As well, the inspection was a multi-jurisdictional project, as the pipeline was owned by both the City of Richmond and VAA, requiring close collaboration between all parties. Pure inserted the tool via the City of Richmond’s water meter (in the airfield) and inspected the downstream water main (owned by VAA).

“The South Runway Watermain inspection project was a good opportunity to trial and gain better understanding of the inspection technology. It also allowed us to get a level of comfort in order to identify other areas where we can apply it,” said Little. “Our comfort how well the inspection went is an incentive for us to explore more non-destructive inspection methods.”

The adaptable design of the Sahara tool allowed for a horizontal insertion at the water meter chamber. (Vertical insertion is the more common method for inserting the tool.)

Inspection results

The adaptable design of the Sahara tool allowed for a horizontal insertion (vertical is more common insertion method) at the water meter chamber and the inspection was completed under live conditions without disruption to service, using the water meter bypass and downstream fire hydrants.

In a single day, the Sahara crew inserted the tethered tool through the water meter chamber, inspected approximately 870 meters (2850 feet) and determined the pipeline alignment with all bends and 100-meter intervals marked. In conjunction with the inspection, VAA and the City of Richmond were able to upgrade the old water meter to an ultrasonic unit, a bonus to the inspection goals.

In the end, zero (0) leaks and zero (0) air pockets were identified during the inspection, and CCTV showed some small tuberculation on the metallic bends. Although VAA recognized no immediate concerns, the Airport Authority now knows the correct updated line location and the overall condition of their assets.

Overall, a great success for a pilot project.

 

A leak represents not only water loss, but can indicate the potential for pipeline failure.

How proactive utilities are taking the gamble out of finding leaks in order to mitigate failure risk

It takes a lot more than luck and traditional acoustic correlation methods to locate a suspected leak on large critical mains. Not all leaks are obvious, and some leaks can seep for years without visibly surfacing, putting utilities at risk for catastrophic failure.

That is why a proactive leak detection strategy plays such an important role in any asset management program. It allows utilities to obtain the general condition of their mains, since a leak not only represents a real water loss, but can also indicate the potential for pipeline failure.

Recently two water operators — The City of Vancouver, B.C. and The City of Norman, Texas— took measures to mitigate failure risks by implementing a leak detection program for their transmission networks. The utilities deployed various inline leak detection technologies, dependent on such factors as pipe diameter, material, access point availability, and operational constraints.

Acoustic intensity of anomaly and actual leak located

Left: Acoustic intensity of anomaly.   Right: Actual leak located

Inline technologies for leak detection

Inline leak detection technologies use non-destructive methods in which acoustic sensors are inserted into a pressurized pipeline. The “hissing” sound or vibration resulting from a leak in a pipe transmits an acoustic signal collected by the sensor when passing the leak site. The amplitude and frequency of the sound depends on the pipe material and internal pressure, and is easy to distinguish from other pipeline sounds.

Pure Technologies has developed two inline leak detection platforms for large-diameter pipelines of all materials: Sahara® (with a tethered sensor) and SmartBall® (a free-swimming tool).  Both tools are equipped with a sensitive acoustic sensor that can locate very small leaks (as small as 0.1 l/min) with high location accuracy.

SmartBall inside a pipe

The SmartBall tool can be launched while the main remains in operation, limiting disruption to service.

SmartBall leak detection technology

The SmartBall platform is an innovative technique to identify leaks and gas pockets in large-diameter pipelines while the line remains in service, minimizing disruption. The free-swimming ball contains a sophisticated leak detection circuitry and is released untethered into the water flow often through an air valve or hydrant (any 100mm opening). The SmartBall follows the water flow and is tracked by surface mounted sensors as it rolls through the pipe making a continuous recording of the acoustic activity in the pipeline. At a downstream location, the ball rolls into the retrieval device and is extracted from the pipe. The data is then evaluated to report the presence of leaks and gas pockets.

Since the SmartBall is propelled by the water flow, it can be used to survey the subject main for long distances (battery life up to 20 hours) in one deployment. As a result, modifications to the main are significantly reduced.

The tethered Sahara platform provides acoustic data on the presences of leaks and gas pockets and has the ability to map the pipeline alignment.

Tethered Sahara inspection platform

Utilities have long relied on the Sahara leak detection platform for speed, accuracy and real-time results.

The tethered platform identifies leaks and gas pockets by providing acoustic data on the presence of leaks for distances up to 1,800 meters (6,000 feet). The tool also has the ability for mapping the pipeline alignment, and is equipped with CCTV, adding an assessment.

The tool can be inserted into an active pipeline, through almost any tap two (2) inches and greater. As the Sahara tool enters the pipe, the flow velocity of the water inflates a small parachute, which pulls the tool through the pipe, with the probe lighting the way, highlighting any visual defects in the pipeline.

If the Sahara tool encounters any acoustic events – such as a leak – the operator can stop the tool at the exact point of the leak. At the same time, an above ground operator locates the sensor, marking the exact leak location within plus or minus 0.5 meters (18 inches). This enables users to know in real time where leaks are located.

The SmartBall tool was successfully retrieved with the acoustic data intact.

City of Vancouver SmartBall inspection

In March 2016, the City of Vancouver retained the services of Pure Technologies to perform a condition assessment of the Powell-Clark Feeder Main. The pipeline is comprised of concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP/BWP), ranging from 750 to 900m in diameter, installed in 1986-87.

In addition to providing an earlier PipeDiver® electromagnetic inspection to identify broken prestressing wire wraps on the main, Pure Technologies also performed a SmartBall inspection to identify and locate leaks and pockets of trapped gas along the line.

The SmartBall tool was inserted into the pipeline through a flange access and acoustic data was collected and recorded as the tool traversed the pipeline. At a distance of 5.8 kilometers, (470 meters from the end of the inspection run), the tool stopped, which was confirmed by the live tracking software. By analyzing data from the earlier PipeDiver EM inspection, Pure determined that unknown debris likely lodged the SmartBall tool.

The City excavated and modified a tap to allow Pure to access the pipeline with a submersible ROV (equipped with a camera) to retrieve the SmartBall tool and examine the debris, which turned out to be an old tool cart. The cart and SmartBall tool were extracted, and the data considered valid.

Analysis indicated three (3) anomalies characteristic of leaks and zero (0) pockets of trapped gas. Two (2) instances of entrained air were identified as migratory acoustic anomalies, and flagged for future inspection, as they may develop new pockets of trapped air.

When combined with the results from the EM inspection, the condition data will be used as part of the City of Vancouver’s asset management initiative and allow for proactive measures in the management of their infrastructure.

Sahara inspection for City of Norman, Texas 

In December 2016, Pure Technologies performed a leak detection survey on the 30-inch Robinson Street Replacement Water Main (RSRWM) for McKee Utility Contractors (McKee).  The RSRWM is owned and operated by the City of Norman, Oklahoma.

McKee suspected a leak on the pipeline, as the RSRWM was failing to hold pressure during the 150 psi hydrostatic pressure test.  As a result, McKee requested that Pure Technologies inspect 4,248 feet of the RSRWM and pinpoint any leaks in the inspected section.

The Sahara platform was selected for its ability to provide same-day results, and to accurately locate small leaks with sub-meter accuracy. The tethered tool is propelled by a small parachute inflated by the product flow, requiring a flow velocity as little as one foot per second to progress through a water main.

Because the pipeline was not yet in service, the flow was generated with a city connection pushing water into the main, and a 12-inch blow-off spewing it out. The Sahara audio-visual (AV) sensor was deployed to the endpoint using the flow velocity provided by the blow-off.

After the leak was located and marked above ground, McKee quickly excavated around the butterfly valve, tightened the bolts and eliminated the leak on the same day.

Two leaks detected, located and repaired

As a result of the survey, 4,294 feet of the RSRWM was inspected, with two leaks located.

Leak 1 was located 1000 feet from the first insertion. Video from the Sahara tool showed that the leak was located on the mechanical joint securing the inline butterfly valve to the pipeline. The Sahara team located the leak, and marked it above ground and McKee was able to start excavating immediately. After quickly excavating the butterfly valve, McKee was able to tighten the bolts on the BFV, eliminating the leak the same day as the excavation.

A second leak was located, marked above ground, excavated, and repaired the same way as the first. After repairing the two leaks found, the line passed pressure test.

While metallic rising mains have been historically difficult to manage, a risk-based approach increases confidence in the condition of the pipeline.

Nothing grabs headline news like the failure of a rising main, which can be extremely damaging to the environment and harmful to a utility’s reputation.

Historically, wastewater rising mains have been difficult to manage, especially those made with ferrous materials, where the failure method is slow when compared to concrete pressure pipe. As well, sewer rising mains have special operational challenges that don’t apply to gravity sewer mains as they typically cannot be taken out of service for inspection, and due to the presence of solids in the fluid, rising mains represent a far more abrasive environment than potable systems such that assessment methods for water mains may not be applicable.

The presence of pockets increases the potential of corrosion in metallic pipes.

Gas pockets are of significant concern in rising mains.

The primary failure mechanism of ferrous rising mains is due to internal corrosion. Gas pockets are of significant concern in rising mains, as concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gas within wastewater can 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 wall.

Therefore, a first step in assessing rising main condition should be the identification of gas pocket locations within the pipeline.

Pure Technologies has performed an analysis of rising mains inspected using acoustic based technologies in order to better characterize the frequency and location of gas pockets. Based on the analysis, it was found that 72% of gas pockets were not at known high points or air release valves, therefore, the most precise way to identify gas pockets within a rising main is through the implementation of inline acoustic inspection technologies.

The collection of gas pocket locations alone will not indicate the condition of the pipeline, but instead identifies locations where an increase in corrosion potential is observed. To ascertain the true condition of a pressure pipe, higher resolution electromagnetic technologies are required. These technologies measure pipe wall thickness in ferrous materials and broken wire or bar wraps in concrete pressure pipe.

Once the condition data is collected, advanced analytics can be applied to estimate the pipeline’s remaining useful life.

“Previous analyses involved straight-line assumptions – comparing the pipe wall thickness at installation against what it is today. However this doesn’t give an accurate picture of how pipes degrade…by using statistical modeling we can develop a more predictable degradation rate based off of over 14,000 miles of inspection data Pure has collected over the past 30+ years.”

Jennifer Steffens, Market Sector Leader, Water and Wastewater, Pure Technologies

Jennifer Steffens, Market Sector Leader, Water and Wastewater, Pure Technologies

Desktop studies are not always reliable.

While often the first thought is to replace the aging wastewater assets based on factors such as age and failure history, this option makes neither logical nor financial sense. With so many miles of buried pipelines and such limited capital budgets, utilities don’t have hundreds of millions to spend on replacing pipelines which still have remaining useful life.

At Pure Technologies, we believe there is a better way. A more feasible approach to ensuring the safe operation of rising mains is to undertake a risk-based approach to manage their operation. A risk-based approach will provide decision intelligence on which assets require rehabilitation or replacement to extend their useful life. Or which assets can be left alone.

Our approach is to help utilities evaluate the current state of their buried infrastructure and provide them with high confidence condition and operating data.   We then couple this with our years of extensive experience and project history (more than 12,000 kilometers of pressure pipe assessment) to provide utilities with actionable information, which allows them to make informed decisions as to the management of these critical assets.

Value of a risk-based approach to manage rising mains.

Utilities that embrace a risk-based approach to manage their rising main inventory have found that on average they can safely manage their rising mains for roughly 5 to 15 percent of the replacement cost. This pragmatic approach focuses on providing real condition data through assessment, which can be used to selectively renew isolated areas of damaged pipe in lieu of capital replacement.

Four steps to a risk-based approach.

At Pure, we recommend a risk-based approach to manage wastewater rising mains by focusing on four main areas:

  • Preliminary Risk Analysis
  • Internal Corrosion Potential Surveys using Inline Acoustics
  • Pipe Wall Assessment using Advanced Technologies
  • Condition Data Analysis and Advanced Risk Assessment

Most common reasons for pipeline failure.

Preliminary analysis.

Preliminary analysis includes collecting the right data to develop a prioritized plan for assessment, including the selection of appropriate technologies. To help make preliminary decisions, Pure collects all available information to understand the history of the pipeline and the likely failure modes. The data analysis will provide an understanding of the construction and context of the pipeline. Data of interest typically includes pipe characteristics, installation factors, environmental and performance-related data, operational data, and failure data.

Acoustic-based SmartBall® tool locates leaks and gas pockets

Acoustic-based SmartBall® tool used to locate leaks and gas pockets.

Sahara is an inline tethered tool that can locate leaks and gas pockets.

Internal corrosion potential survey.

An internal corrosion potential survey uses inline tools to locate gas pockets that can increase the potential for corrosion and eventual breakdown of the pipe wall. Pure Technologies typically deploys its acoustic-based SmartBall® leak and gas detection tool, as well as its tethered Sahara® leak and gas pocket detection platform to locate gas pockets in pressurized lines of all materials.

Pipe wall assessment.

While the presence of gas pockets may indicate areas of potential concern, it will not give a quantifiable answer as to the structural life of the pipe.

Pipe wall assessment is completed using a variety of technology solutions to identify defects and deterioration of the pipe wall in a variety of pipe materials. For pipe wall assessment of metallic rising mains, common internal electromagnetic technologies include the PipeWalker® and PureRobotics® platforms, as well as the free-swimming 24-detector PipeDiver® assessment tool, developed to identify electromagnetic anomalies indicating pipe wall loss.

PipeDiver® assessment tool, identifies electromagnetic anomalies indicating pipe wall loss.

Condition assessment analysis.

Condition data analysis and risk assessment evaluates how to safely renew or extend the life of rising mains. The risk evaluation considers not only the probability of failure (condition) of the rising main based on inspection data, but also the consequence of failure in order to make sound engineering decisions.

Understanding the risk of the pipeline is an important step in selecting and justifying the appropriate condition assessment methods. As the risk of the asset increases, the value of using high-resolution comprehensive assessment techniques increases. Higher resolution data results in more confident decision making, and would justify and prioritize the application of assessment techniques.

Diagnostic analytics helps utilities move risk assessment forward.

In the past, inspections were done, the data analysed, and the results passed on to the utility. Pure Technologies now offers a more holistic program of diagnostic analytics. This includes analysis of what caused the corrosion problem within the pipe wall, what the impact the corrosion has on the life of the pipeline, and a prescriptive analysis of how it needs to be repaired or rehabilitated.

The next step gathering momentum? Predictive analysis to elongate service life.

While metallic force mains have been historically difficult to manage, a risk-based approach increases confidence in the condition of the pipeline.

After the Clean Water Act of the 70s required control of wastewater discharge, an increase in force main construction and management across the country was observed. As these assets are now approaching 50 years in age, reducing the risk of failure has become a major regulatory priority. Nothing grabs headline news like the failure of a force main, which can be extremely damaging to the environment and harmful to a utility’s reputation.

Historically, wastewater force mains have been difficult to manage, especially those made with ferrous materials, where the failure method is slow when compared to concrete pressure pipe.

As well, pressurized sewer mains have special operational challenges that don’t apply to gravity sewer mains as they typically cannot be taken out of service for inspection, and due to the presence of solids in the fluid, force mains represent a far more abrasive environment than potable systems such that assessment methods for water mains may not be applicable.

The presence of gas pockets increases the potential of corrosion in metallic pipes.

Gas pockets are of significant concern in force mains.

The primary failure mechanism of ferrous force mains is due to internal corrosion. Gas pockets are of significant concern in force mains, as concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gas within wastewater can 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 wall.

Therefore, a first step in assessing force main condition should be the identification of gas pocket locations within the pipeline.

Pure Technologies has performed an analysis of force mains inspected using acoustic based technologies in order to better characterize the frequency and location of gas pockets. Based on the analysis, it was found that 72% of gas pockets were not at known high points or air release valves, therefore, the most precise way to identify gas pockets within a force main is through the implementation of inline acoustic inspection technologies.

The collection of gas pocket locations alone will not indicate the condition of the pipeline, but instead identifies locations where an increase in corrosion potential is observed. To ascertain the true condition of a pressure pipe, higher resolution electromagnetic technologies are required. These technologies measure pipe wall thickness in ferrous materials and broken wire or bar wraps in concrete pressure pipe.

Once the condition data is collected, advanced analytics can be applied to estimate the pipeline’s remaining useful life.

“Previous analyses involved straight-line assumptions – comparing the pipe wall thickness at installation against what it is today. However this doesn’t give an accurate picture of how pipes degrade…by using statistical modeling we can develop a more predictable degradation rate based off of over 14,000 miles of inspection data Pure has collected over the past 30+ years.”

Jennifer Steffens, Market Sector Leader, Water and Wastewater, Pure Technologies

Desktop studies are not always reliable.

While often the first thought is to replace the aging wastewater assets based on factors such as age and failure history, this option makes neither logical nor financial sense. With so many miles of buried pipelines and such limited capital budgets, utilities don’t have hundreds of millions to spend on replacing pipelines which still have remaining useful life.

At Pure Technologies, we believe there is a better way. A more feasible approach to ensuring the safe operation of force mains is to undertake a risk-based approach to manage their operation. A risk-based approach will provide decision intelligence on which assets require rehabilitation or replacement to extend their useful life. Or which assets can be left alone.

Our approach is to help utilities evaluate the current state of their buried infrastructure and provide them with high confidence condition and operating data.   We then couple this with our years of extensive experience and project history (more than 12,000 kilometers of pressure pipe assessment) to provide utilities with actionable information, which allows them to make informed decisions as to the management of these critical assets.

The value of a risk-based approach to manage force mains.

Utilities that embrace a risk-based approach to manage their force main inventory have found that on average they can safely manage their force mains for roughly 5 to 15 percent of the replacement cost. This pragmatic approach focuses on providing real condition data through assessment, which can be used to selectively renew isolated areas of damaged pipe in lieu of capital replacement.

At Pure, we recommend a risk-based approach to manage wastewater force mains by focusing on four main areas:

  • Preliminary Risk Analysis
  • Internal Corrosion Potential Surveys using Inline Acoustics
  • Pipe Wall Assessment using Advanced Technologies
  • Condition Data Analysis and Advanced Risk Assessment

Some of the common reasons leading to failure on ferrous pipes.

Preliminary Risk Analysis

Preliminary analysis includes collecting the right data to develop a prioritized plan for assessment, including the selection of appropriate technologies. To help make preliminary decisions, Pure collects all available information to understand the history of the pipeline and the likely failure modes.

The data analysis will provide an understanding of the construction and context of the pipeline. Data of interest typically includes pipe characteristics, installation factors, environmental and performance-related data, operational data, and failure data.

Acoutic-based SmartBall® tool locates leaks and gas pockets

Acoustic-based SmartBall® tool locates leaks and gas pockets.

Sahara is an inline tethered tool used to locate leaks and gas pockets in pressurized lines.

Internal Corrosion Potential Survey.

An internal corrosion potential survey uses inline tools to locate gas pockets that can increase the potential for corrosion and eventual breakdown of the pipe wall. Pure Technologies typically deploys its acoustic-based SmartBall® leak and gas detection tool, as well as its tethered Sahara® leak and gas pocket detection platform to locate gas pockets in pressurized lines of all materials.

Pipe Wall Assessment.

While the presence of gas pockets may indicate areas of potential concern, it will not give a quantifiable answer as to the structural life of the pipe.

Pipe wall assessment is completed using a variety of technology solutions to identify defects and deterioration of the pipe wall in a variety of pipe materials. For pipe wall assessment of metallic force mains, common internal electromagnetic technologies include the PipeWalker® and PureRobotics® platforms, as well as the free-swimming 24-detector PipeDiver® assessment tool, developed to identify electromagnetic anomalies indicating pipe wall loss.

PipeDiver® assessment tool identifies electromagnetic anomalies indicating pipe wall loss.

Condition Assessment Analysis.

Condition data analysis and risk assessment evaluates how to safely renew or extend the life of force mains. The risk evaluation considers not only the probability of failure (condition) of the force main based on inspection data, but also the consequence of failure in order to make sound engineering decisions.

Understanding the risk of the pipeline is an important step in selecting and justifying the appropriate condition assessment methods. As the risk of the asset increases, the value of using high-resolution comprehensive assessment techniques increases. Higher resolution data results in more confident decision making, and would justify and prioritize the application of assessment techniques.

Diagnostic analytics helps utilities move risk assessment forward.

In the past, inspections were done, the data analysed, and the results passed on to the utility. Pure Technologies now offers a more holistic program of diagnostic analytics. This includes analysis of what caused the corrosion problem within the pipe wall, what the impact the corrosion has on the life of the pipeline, and a prescriptive analysis of how it needs to be repaired or rehabilitated.

The next step gathering momentum? Predictive analysis to elongate service life.

 

Tethered inline inspection tool helps European city determine condition of steel pipeline unused for more than 4 decades.

Bilbao is an industrial port city in northern Spain, surrounded by famous green mountains. The metropolis, where more than a million people live, is also famous for the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, the curvy, titanium-clad building that sparked a downtown revitalization when it opened in 1997.

Recently the city’s utility, Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium (BBWC), sparked interest in a possible revitalization program for a segment of its pipeline infrastructure that it had inherited. This involved the inspection of an older steel pipeline that had remained non-operational for more than 40 years.

In July 2017, Pipeline Infrastructure, consultant to Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium, decided to conduct a non-destructive evaluation of the utility’s Venta-Alta-Ollargan-Etxebarri Pipeline that had been unused since the 1970s. The utility wanted to use Pure Technologies’ tethered Sahara® acoustic platform for a leak and air pocket inspection to determine the current condition of the pipe wall.

Although not planned initially, owing to the effortless inspection of the Venta-Alta-Ollargan-Etxebarri Pipeline, the crews mobilized for an additional Sahara inspection at the Venta Alta Treatment plant, and the following day, a survey on 600 meters of a 500mm diameter reinforced concrete pipeline located in Portugalete. This pipeline traverses under the Bilbao River near the famous Vizcaya suspension bridge.

“We were pleased with the overall Sahara inspections, and all teams collaborated closely to inform us of the tool’s progress. Now that we know the current state of the pipelines, we can optimize our budgets to make better asset management decisions.”

Ángela Ríos Somavilla, Consorcio Aguas de Bilbao Bizkaia

Sahara inspection

Crews setting up to install the Sahara tool and then track its progress.

About the Venta-Alta-Ollargan-Etxebarri pipeline.

Once a critical main within the city’s linear network, the Venta-Alta-Ollargan-Etxebarri pipeline had been decommissioned for more than four decades. Constructed of steel, with an interior epoxy coating, the 1200mm diameter pipeline is more 3,000 meters in length.

The Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium sought assistance to assess the condition of the pipeline to determine the possibility of its operation again to deliver surplus water during the storm season for use in the generation of electric power at a nearby Hydro plant.

Due to the age of pipeline, and the fact that it was non-operational for over 40 years, BBWC was interested in locating any possible leaks in order to plan a defensible course of action.

Based on the inspection results, BBWC would then determine if it was necessary to design a new pipeline or opt for continuous rehabilitation. The other option, if feasible, would be to repair any defects in a timely manner to ensure the proper operation and safety of the pipeline, all the while making informed capital decisions.

A lot was at stake, which was why the inspection was so critical to BBWC.

Sahara is an inline tethered tool used to locate leaks and gas pockets without disruption to service.

Tethered Sahara technology accurately locates leaks with sub-meter accuracy.

To ascertain the condition of the line, BBWC selected the Sahara leak detection platform  for the inspection, conducted over three days with seven insertion points along the affected pipeline. Sahara is an inline tethered tool that can assess pipelines 152mm and larger, without any disruption to service.

Propelled by a small parachute inflated by the product flow, the tool requires a flow velocity as little as 0.3 m per second to progress through a water main. From a single insertion, the tool can travel more than one kilometer if flow, pressure and pipeline layout allow it.

Because the sensor tool is tethered, an operator can stop and reverse the tool to investigate acoustic events such as leaks, gas pockets and visual anomalies. At the same time, an above-ground operator locates the sensor above ground.

Much of the pipeline traverses an urban environment.

Pipeline commissioned exclusively for inspection.

The mothballed Venta-Alta-Ollargan-Etxebarri pipeline was commissioned exclusively for the inspection, which took 3-4 hours to fill and bring up to pressurize again. BBWC initiated a flow rate of 650 l/s and 700 l/s in order to obtain a flow velocity of approximately 0.6 m/s. enough to propel the Sahara sensor. Pressure varied between 1.2 and 2 bars.

As mentioned, owing to the early completion of the Venta-Alta-Ollargan-Etxebarri inspection, crews then mobilized to perform two additional surveys, one day at the Venta Alta treatment plant and the following day on the reinforced concrete pipeline than runs under the Bilbao River.

During the entire five-day survey, the Sahara mobilization crews kept in constant contact with BBWC, accurately communicating the inspection time, depending on the length of each of the pipe sections, number of fittings, access difficulty, etc. in order to the limit the supply and avoid the unnecessary waste of water.

While the crews faced some challenges, overall all three inspections were successful, and went off without a major hitch.

Inspection results prove that for most pipelines, age does not matter.

Analysis of the acoustic data identified no new leaks along the 2800 meters of inspected Venta-Alta-Ollargan-Etxebarri pipeline. For a pipeline decommissioned for over 40 years, the line is in surprisingly remarkable condition.

Three leaks were identified on the reinforced concrete pipeline, all located under the river. Knowing the current state of the pipelines, Bilbao Bizkaia Water Consortium can now make informed capital decisions on whether to repair or rehabilitate the lines. Knowledge is power.

 

In North America, the material and size of pipes that make up water and sewer networks range widely. Because these pipeline systems are so complex, it requires a strategic approach based on risk and real data for effective long-term management.

Worker inspecting pipe

Historically, however, it has been challenging to gather real data that can shape defensive capital decisions for an entire system. The assessment of metallic pipelines — which make up most water and pressurized sewer networks — differs from prestressed concrete cylinder pipes (PCCP), both in terms of failure modes and in the fact that metallic pipe materials are featured in both transmission and distribution networks.

While PCCP assessment and management have been successfully used by utilities for years, effective assessment solutions for ferrous pipe have only recently been commercialized.

In 2011, Pure Technologies began an initiative to help close the gap in metallic pipe assessment technologies, and focus attention on gathering honest feedback from proactive utilities on what solutions are needed to effectively manage metallic pipe.

Seven years later, Pure Technologies reports that notable progress has been made with the development and advancement of assessment technologies for metallic pipeline networks.

Team of workers with a metallic pipe

Many proactive utilities involved in guiding Pure’s research efforts

Proactive utilities have been involved in the metallic pipe initiative, and instrumental in the development of new inspection tools for metallic pipe, both by providing feedback that helps guide research and development, and by providing opportunities that allow solution testing in live operating conditions. As a result of these efforts, there has been significant improvements to the technologies available to utilities for assessing the condition of metallic pipelines in both transmission and distribution networks.

For large-diameter transmission mains, there is a well-developed business case for assessing these mains as they approach the end of their useful life. These pipelines typically carry a high replacement cost and are higher risk — due primarily to their size and criticality — making it important for utilities to fully understand the condition of the asset.

Armed with real condition data, utilities can make a defensible renewal or replacement decision about the pipeline. Based on well over 14,000 miles of data, Pure Technologies has found that only a small percentage of pipes are in need of immediate renewal.

Small diameter metallic pipe leak

Case for using inline tools for small diameter pipelines

In distribution networks, however, the case for condition assessment is more challenging as smaller pipelines can sometimes be replaced cost-effectively. Despite this, the process for making a replacement decision should be based, whenever possible, on risk and real data.

With the EPA suggesting that between 70 and 90 percent of pipes being replaced have remaining useful life, the case is even stronger for collecting condition data to drive the decision making to help utilities spend their replacement dollars more efficiently and avoid replacing pipe with remaining useful life.

In some instances with smaller diameter pipes, it is often cost-efficient to use inline tools to gather detailed screening data on a pipe-by-pipe basis to determine if replacement is necessary.

A new approach to metallic pipeline management

While there is no silver bullet technology for assessing metallic pipelines, Pure has developed a flexible, risk-based approach to help utilities better understand their infrastructure, gather actionable data and prioritize both short and long-term management efforts.

Over the past few years, Pure has worked along proactive utilities to develop its data-driven Assess and Address® approach, which focuses on four main areas:

  • Understand
  • Assess
  • Address
  • Manage

Through the implementation of programs across North America, Pure has found that the majority of pipelines 16 inches and above can be cost-effectively managed for between 5 and 15 percent of the replacement cost.

Starting an effective pipeline management program

The first step of any pipeline management program is understanding the system-wide risk along with the benefits and limitations of assessment solutions. This allows for the development of a defensible management strategy that can be implemented to maintain and extend the life of the assets.

Many technologies now exist to provide a snapshot of a pipeline condition at various levels of confidence. It is therefore prudent for utilities to approach technology selection and subsequent analysis based on the risk of each pipeline.

A more thorough risk assessment involves estimating the Consequence of Failure (CoF) and the Likelihood of Failure (Lof) of each pipeline based on internal knowledge, operational history and pipeline characteristics. This initial risk assessment determines which areas of the system require further assessment to acquire real condition data and provides the utility with the necessary information to make an informed technology selection.

By using risk to guide management strategies, owners can ensure they are implementing the right approach, at the right time, with the lowest financial impact. The goal of a management program should always be o focus resources on managing the asset while safely getting the most service life out of the pipeline.

Sinkhole in a street

Reducing the Consequence of Failure

Reducing CoF comes down to improving emergency events through field operations efficiency. Studies have shown that the time to shut down a pipeline had more impact on the consequence of failure than the diameter of the pipeline.

Utilities can reduce CoF — and in turn risk — by gaining a better control on their system, which can be achieved two ways:

  • 1. Adding valves and redundancy in the system
  • 2. Knowing the location, condition and operability of control points

For example, if a pipe fails and utility operations staff are unable to locate valves — or the valves are inoperable when they are located — it will take longer to isolate a pipe failure. This will result in greater damage, more water loss and longer outages and repair times as a result of the failure. Implementing a proactive program for control assets that focus on providing better data for field staff reduces CoF by decreasing emergency response time.

Reducing the Likelihood of Failure through condition assessment

Many factors influence the likelihood that a pipeline will fail. Metallic pipelines, specifically, have a variety of failure modes and require a wide array of technologies to accurately assess their condition. Until recently, technologies for metallic pipe assessment have been unavailable or limited in their viability.

As a result, lower risk metallic mains have historically been prioritized for replacement using age, material and break history, while higher risk mains have sometimes been assessed with test pits along the length of the pipeline. After test pitting, statistical methods are used to extrapolate the condition of the test pit locations along the entire pipe length.

Through the development of metallic assessment solutions, condition data shows that pipe distress is often random and localized, meaning that an area of distress identified during the test pit method may inaccurately identify the entire pipeline as distressed, conversely, identify the entire length of pipeline as in good condition.

The development of reliable inline condition assessment tools provides owners with pipe-by-pipe data that gives a more complete picture of the actual condition of the pipeline. This allows for a more targeted management of small sections of pipe instead of generalizing the condition of an entire pipe length. It also allows for the collection of real data to drive pipeline renewal, which allows for more defensible capital decision making.

For utilities with large-diameter networks, waiting for failures to occur before repairing or replacing highly critical mains is not an option.

Massive pressured water lleak on a street

With a large amount of buried water infrastructure reaching the end of its service life, operators have every incentive to take a proactive approach to asset management.

Nowhere is this more critical than in busy urban centres. The fallout from an unexpected failure can have major societal costs, and greatly diminish public confidence in the utility.

Asset management begins with condition assessment

Successful asset management begins with condition assessment, the point at which problems and challenges are understood and shaped into definitive plans from both an operational and financial perspective.

To proactively address their pipeline conditions, operators today have access to variety of tools, technologies and engineering analysis that allow for a comprehensive condition assessment of large-diameter pressure pipes, for both water and wastewater systems.

“Unfortunately there is no ‘silver bullet’ with regard to condition assessment technologies,” said Mike Wrigglesworth, Senior Vice President of Pure Technologies. “Each pipeline is unique, and no single technology is the fix for all situations. A combination of factors, from pipe material to soil conditions, operational challenges, age, installation and third party factors will all play a role in the likelihood of failure. Combined with the consequence of failure, a risk-based approach can then be used to select the best condition assessment tool or technologies.”

Matching assessment technology with the pipeline conditions and project goals

While operators can now deploy a number of data-based tools and techniques to assess pipeline conditions, each technology also comes with varying degrees of limitation. For instance, while magnetic flux leakage (MFL) tools provide the highest resolution data for steel pipe, MFL is of limited value for concrete pipe.

Medium resolution techniques such as electromagnetics can identify localized areas of wall loss on metallic pipes such as ductile iron and steel, but not on cast iron pipe as cylinder thickness is often too thick and material properties vary considerably, negatively affecting results. In both cases, it is often prudent to deploy leak detection technologies, as studies show joint defects lead to leaks, and leaks are precursors to failure.

“Often the best solution is to use different but complementary technologies to collect robust condition data that is then evaluated using engineering analysis against a comprehensive risk of failure versus a consequence of failure analysis.”

Sahara® Leak and Gas Pocket Detection

Pure’s proprietary Sahara® inspection platform is a tethered, multi-sensor tool that can identify acoustic-based leaks, gas pockets and visual anomalies in real time, with no disruption to service.

The Sahara tool features a small parachute that uses the product flow to draw the sensor through the pipeline while being controlled from the surface.

SmartBall® Leak and Gas Pocket Detection

SmartBall® is a multi-sensor tool used to identify a variety of conditions in pressurized pipelines. The tool is easy to deploy through existing pipeline features, and travels untethered with the product flow, collecting information.

The tool’s highly sensitive acoustic sensor can locate small leaks and gas pockets, with typical location accuracy within 6 feet (1.8 m).

PipeDiver® Condition Assessment

PipeDiver® is a free-swimming condition assessment tool that operates while the pipeline remains in service.

Originally designed for use in PCCP, the tool has electromagnetic sensors to identify and locate broken prestressing wire wraps. For metallic pipelines, the optimized PipeDiver has the ability to pinpoint localized areas of wall loss.

The tool is also able to deliver video images from inside the pipe.

PipeWalker™ Condition Assessment

The PipeWalker tool provides a viable option for pipeline condition assessment in situations where the pipe is dewatered or where the option to dewater is available.

The tool is equipped with electromagnetic sensors for detecting wire wrap breaks on PCCP pipes and for detecting corrosion on metallic pipes.

PureRobotics® Pipeline Inspection

PureRobotics® is a depth-rated robotic pipeline inspection system that can be configured to inspect pipe applications 24-inches and larger.

Tethered by a high-strength fiber optic cable, the crawler is capable of performing multi-sensor inspections in dewatered pipes or while submerged in depressurized pipes.

The crawler features HD digital CCTV, and can be equipped with electromagnetic sensors, Inertial Mapping, 3-D LIDAR, LASER, SONAR and other tools upon request.

Matching the level of resolution to the risk of the line

While there are a variety of approaches available for assessing a pipeline’s condition, much of an operator’s effort must go into matching the level of resolution of the approach to the overall risk of the line.

The idea is to put the highest resolution technologies on the most critical lines. In the end, the goal of deploying a particular technology (or complementary technologies) is to identify and locate the areas that need rehabilitation or repair as opposed to wholesale replacement of those lines.

Armed with the right information, operators can determine remaining useful life, and confidently move forward to prioritize and target capital spending, while avoiding failures.

Case Study

K-water, the national bulk water utility in South Korea, supplies water across the country to smaller cities and controls everything from collection, treatment and pumping to maintenance, inspection and rehabilitation of the nation-wide pipeline system.

In addition to supplying treated water to these small cities, many have contracted K-water to manage and maintain their distribution systems as they battle the challenges of aging infrastructure. Beginning in 2011, K-water has used Sahara® Leak Detection to address non-revenue water and collect condition information about its metallic pipelines.

Project Details

Services
Sahara® Leak Detection
NRW reduction program
Baseline condition assessment
Timing
2012-ongoing
Pipe Material
Steel, Cast Iron, Ductile Iron
Diameter
6-inch (150mm) to 90-inch (2300mm)
Transmission Type
Water

Project Highlights

22 leaks located in 25 miles (40.23 kms) of inspection

Pinhole leaks identified within 5 cm of actual location

Estimated 350,400 m3 of water saved per year in Tongyeong City

Challenge

In 2009, K-water was searching for a large-diame­ter leak detection tool for its critical trunk mains. While K-water has done an exemplary job of maintaining its nation-wide pipeline network, which totals about 5,000 kilometers and has a Non-Revenue Water (NRW) rate of about 2 per­cent, many of its client municipalities suffer from high levels of NRW as their infrastructure ages and begins to leak. K-water was also interested in a tool that would allow them to compare actual pipeline conditions with their extensive pipeline engineering knowledge, allowing for quality con­dition assessment and failure prevention. In 2011, K-water began a knowledge-transfer program with Pure Technologies to become independent operators of Sahara leak detection.

Solution

K-water has built up expert knowledge in pipe­line engineering, a database of information on their pipe materials and pipe failure methods, and has adopted the best condition assessment technologies in the market to help inspect their pipelines so that efficient, prioritized rehabilita­tion and replacement plans can be made.

One condition assessment tool K-water has adopted is the Sahara platform – a tethered system with acoustic leak detection and inline video. While many utilities around the world use this tool for large-diameter leak detection, K-wa­ter has adopted it in an innovative way, choosing to use it as a complete condition assessment tool to provide information on its pipelines and accu­rate location of leaks.

The tool is non-destructive and is pulled by the flow of water by a small drag chute. When the sensor is inserted into a tap, it remains tethered to the surface to allow for immediate checking of suspected leaks and gas pockets, internal pipe wall conditions and pipeline features by winching the sensor back and forth from the surface. The sensor is also tracked at ground level by a staff member, allowing for precise spot markings for excavations. Sahara also provides real-time inline video, which allows the operator to see live pipe conditions as the tool surveys for leaks and gas pockets.

Operating with a national mandate and several stakeholders, K-water faces a number of logistical challenges with its pipeline infrastructure.

One challenge is population density; South Korea is roughly 2 per cent of the size of Canada with almost double the population, meaning large, densely populated regions rely on K-water for consistent water service. A failure or service interruption to a critical trunk main could be disastrous K-water’s credibility with customers.

South Korea is also a very mountain­ous region, meaning pipelines supplying water throughout the country often pass through areas that are difficult to inspect using traditional methods. In addition to the landscape, many of K-water’s large diameter pipelines are buried deep in the ground, making excavation projects com­plex and expensive to complete.

By becoming certified Sahara tool operators, K-water staff can deploy the tool at their own descretion and are able to overcome these chal­lenges to complete inspections in difficult regions.

Results

Tongyeong City, South Korea, which has a high NRW and features 32-inch (800-mm) steel pipe, has been inspected twice; first as part of Pure’s Sahara training program and subsequently by K-water as an independent operator. The inspec­tions in Tongyeong City were extremely success­ful, locating 10 total leaks with high accuracy in 2.5 kilometers of inspection for an estimated sav­ings of 350,400 cubic meters of water per year.

During the training inspections, Pure and K-wa­ter were able to locate pinhole leaks as close as 5-cm above and below the actual leak location – meaning service disruption, excavation and repair times were minimal. In K-water’s subsequent inspection of the same pipeline in Tongyeong City, they were able to excavate and repair all three identified leaks in 5.5 hours each during the night (3 separate repairs), causing little disruption to customers.

In total, K-water has inspected 25 kilometers of pipeline and located 22 leaks of varying sizes. K-water has inspected both its own pipelines as well the regional pipelines that it operates and has covered pipes with diameters as small as 150-mm and as large as 2300-mm, with most pipe being either steel, ductile iron or cast iron pipe. K-water’s 2012 program will cover about 52 kilometers of pipeline for leaks and gas pockets

While the tool has been effective in locating leaks for K-water, its value as a complete condition assessment tool has also been helpful due to the unique challenges faced in South Korea. K-water has been able assess the state of its pipelines by combining the inline video data and its extensive engineering knowledge. By doing this, K-water has become a thought-leader in large-diameter pipeline management.

K-water has successfully applied the Sahara platform for condition assessment in its transmission mains and for leak detection in municipal trunk mains.

Se-Hwan Kim

General Manager, Water Supply Operation & Maintenance Department, K-water

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Case Study

Daphne is located along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, an area served by Daphne Utilities, which provides water, wastewater, and natural gas services to approximately 25,000 residents.

In 1985 the City purchased the Lake Forest Utility, and in doing so, Daphne Utilities took over their existing wastewater treatment plant, which was built in the 1970s.  The facility discharges through the Daphne Outfall, a 6,000-foot, 18-inch ductile iron effluent pipeline that discharges treated wastewater into Mobile Bay. Although the main was critical to the City, little information about it was transferred when Daphne Utilities acquired the facility.  Daphne Utilities later officially named the facility the Water Reclamation Facility.

Project Details

Services
Mapping deliverable

Pipeline alignment

Sahara® leak and gas pocket detection

Timing
One (1) day
Pipe Material
Ductile Iron
Inspection Length
1000 feet (304 meters)
Diameter
18-Inch (457mm)
Transmission Type
Treated Wastewater

Project Highlights

Pipeline assessment hampered by

non-existent plans

Obstacles in pipeline path include

urban development and wildlife sanctuary

Zero (0) leaks

eight (8) gas pockets detected

One (1) day

mobilization
1000ft inspected

Challenge
For many years after Daphne Utilities took over the Water Reclamation Facility the outfall line operated as a gravity discharge line. As the population grew and flows to the plant increased, Daphne Utilities installed pumps to occasionally increase the volume of treated wastewater passing through the discharge line. As development expanded, the situation progressed from a time when the pumps occasionally ran, to the point where the pumps ran almost continuously.

Gravity main transformed into a force main

Now, a pipe designed as a gravity main had transformed into a force main, pumping under pressure at all times, with its location and condition unknown – and with no redundancy.

To proactively manage this critical asset, in June 2015, Daphne Utilities retained the services of Pure Technologies (Pure) for a one-day Sahara® leak and gas pocket detection inspection of the Daphne Outfall, with a mapping deliverable.

The primary purpose of the inspection was to determine the pipeline alignment, since you can’t maintain what you can’t locate.  Since the 18-inch outfall was built, the terrain had changed markedly.  The original shoreline had been extended by hundreds of feet to accommodate the construction of a major highway and several hotels and restaurants.
In fact, based on best guesses and poor drawings, Daphne Utilities suspected that a five-story Hampton Inn had been built on top of the 18-inch outfall!
In short, Daphne Utilities didn’t know the exact pipeline location or its operational conditions.

Solution
To ascertain the alignment and condition of the 18-inch outfall, Daphne Utilities engaged Pure Technologies for a single day inspection.  In addition to the challenge of not knowing the exact pipeline alignment, it also appeared that the pipeline traversed under a swamp sanctuary for hundreds of alligators and other wildlife, in an area known as “Gator Alley.”

To conduct the mapping and assessment survey, Pure recommended the Sahara leak and gas pocket detection platform. Sahara is an inline tethered tool that can assess pipelines 6 inches and larger, without any disruption to service.

Because the sensor tool is tethered, an operator can stop and reverse the tool to investigate acoustic events such as leaks, gas pockets and visual anomalies. At the same time, an above-ground operator locates the sensor above ground, marking the exact location of the pipeline at any point along the pipe with sub-meter accuracy.

The mapping capability of Sahara allows utility owners to determine the exact location of their pipeline at any point, as well as the location of any leaks or gas pockets.

Results
Analysis of the acoustic data identified zero (0) leaks and eight (8) air pockets, which were impacting the efficiency of the line, as gas pockets occupy space within the already maxed-out pipeline. During the inspection, the alignment of the pipeline was determined and recorded from the treatment plant to the edge of the marsh where Mobile Bay starts, confirming the pipeline does indeed pass underneath the Hampton Inn.

In a single day, the Sahara crew determined flow velocity, inserted the tethered tool, inspected 1,000 feet, determined the pipeline alignment, and confirmed its location and the location of 8 gas pockets. As a result, Daphne now knows they have gas pockets and they now know the line location in order to execute a plan to deal with the gas pockets.

Not bad for a day’s work.

Case Study

The City of Montreal supplies drinking water and wastewater services to a population of nearly 1.9 million people. Starting in 2007, Pure Technologies (Pure) began working with the City’s potable water transmission division on a pipeline assessment program that included electromagnetic (PureEM) inspection and acoustic monitoring.

In 2015, as part of a pre-emptive program to reduce loss of non-revenue water and understand the condition of their pipes, the City partnered with Pure to conduct an ongoing, three-year leak detection survey on a series of critical pipes within its potable water network located mostly in the downtown core.

Project Details

Services
Sahara® leak detection

CCTV visual inspection

Timing
2015-Ongoing
Pipe Material
BWP, Steel, Cast Iron, PCCP
Inspection Length
28.9 km (18.5 m)
Diameter
500mm – 1200mm (20-inch – 48-inch)
Transmission Type
Water

Project Highlights

20.8 miles (33.5 kms) inspected to date

46 insertions completed

24 leaks identified

9 leaks identified as feature leaks

Challenge
The City recognized the value of detecting leaks, however small, to prevent these from developing into greater problems. While leaks occur most frequently on small-diameter distributions mains, leaks and ruptures on trunk mains are a much bigger concern for utility operators due to the relatively higher consequence of failure.

In addition to physical losses of water caused by a series of small leaks, the escaping water can eventually erode the surrounding soil making the area more prone to washouts or sinkholes, a major headache especially in densely populated areas. Leaking water can eventually find its way to the surface, or into sewers, overburdening the system. Unplanned excavations to repair unforeseen leaks can also erode consumer confidence in a public utility.

Solution
For its multi-year leak detection program, the City requested Pure to deploy its highly reliable and precise Sahara® acoustic video inspection on 46 kilometers of pipelines chiefly in the downtown core. The pipeline sections consist of PCCP, BWP, cast iron and steel.

The Sahara platform comes with a variety of sensor tools to perform the inspection. This includes an acoustic sensor to perform leak and gas pocket detection, and high-resolution video camera to assess internal pipe conditions.

Because the Sahara tool is drawn by product flow via a small drag chute, and is tethered to a data acquisition unit on the surface, it gives the operator close control to confirm suspected leaks, gas pockets and other visual anomalies. The tool can visually confirm pipe irregularities, continuously recording, allowing for both real-time and post-processing analysis.

For the Montreal project, the purpose of the Sahara inspection was to assess the condition of the pipeline by identifying and locating leaks, pockets of trapped gas and to identify larger visual anomalies utilizing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage collected during the inspection. The data would help shape the rehabilitation urgency and timing.

 

Results
To date, Sahara has had 46 insertions and a total of 33.5 kilometers (20.8 m) have been assessed. Analysis of the data identified 24 leaks and zero (0) gas pockets in the pipeline sections inspected. The Sahara sensor was tracked above ground using the Sahara Locator® device to track the Sahara tool and locate any potential leaks or anomalies found.

 The assessment is proving its worth from a verification viewpoint, and the leaks have been either repaired or addressed for prioritization. The current program is scheduled for completion by 2017.

With its pre-emptive leak detection program, the City is Montreal is a great example of a smart water manager taking proactive efforts at keeping its network in healthy shape.

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What keeps a water utility manager up at night? Getting a phone call from a distraught resident about an unplanned (and unwanted!) ornamental pond developing in the cul-de-sac.

On an already soggy, wet day in early November 2016, water began filling a cul-de-sac in an affluent neighbourhood in the City of Southlake, Texas. To contain surface flooding, Southlake water authorities took immediate remedial action by sequentially shutting down each water line in the area in an attempt to isolate the leak.

“As for using the Sahara tool to find the leak, upon saw cutting the street and excavating, Pure Technologies hit the bullseye yet again for Southlake.” Kyle Flanagan

Water Department Supervisor, City of Southlake

In addition, the City used external listening devices to try and locate the leak – the external listening devices indicated that some kind of leak was present, but the City was unable to pinpoint the location. In the end, the City had to shut down the 42-inch Caylor bar-wrapped potable water main, a low-pressure gravity main passing through the area. This was done to confirm that the 42-inch Caylor Main was leaking.

Sure enough, once the 42-inch Caylor Main was shut down, the water stopped surfacing. When the City reopened the main, the water did not resume surfacing. Despite the inconclusive evidence, the City remained convinced that the 42-inch main was the leak source.

Workers with horses in a field

Soggy ground, horse pasture and and muddy conditions hamper inspection

With uncertainty remaining, the City of Southlake called in Pure Technologies to assist in identifying and locating the leak. Unfortunately, the bad luck continued, as heavy rains and muddy conditions hampered Pure and its mobilization truck from access to the pipeline right-of-way. Even crews from Southlake got stuck when they tried drive the pipeline right-of-way.

One possible additional access point was available through a private owner’s horse pasture, but low-hanging power lines created a safety hazard that would prevent crews from accessing the site by that route.

Disappointed, the crews demobilized to wait for better weather or a better access point.

Sahara device

Sahara® platform selected for speed, accuracy and on-the-spot results

The next day Southlake identified another access point 1,000 feet further upstream, and prepared it for the Sahara inspection.

The Sahara leak detection platform was selected for its ability to provide same day results, and to accurately locate small leaks with sub-meter accuracy. The tethered tool is propelled by a small parachute inflated by the product flow, requiring a flow velocity as little as one foot per second to progress through a water main.

Because the Sahara inline tool is tethered, an operator has complete control, and can closely examine events of interest such as leaks, gas pockets and visual anomalies in real time.

The tool can detect up to four times as many leaks as correlators because the acoustic sensor is brought right to the leak. The Sahara platform also features inline video that allows operators to observe internal pipe conditions, and many times identify the type of leak – indicating if the leak is on a joint, in the pipe barrel, at a feature, and other details helpful for planning a repair before excavating.

Pipe inner surface

Second attempt to find the leak

For the assembled crews, pressure escalated to quickly find the leak location.

Once the Pure mobilization crew set up the installation equipment and inserted the Sahara sensor, the pressure gauge indicated only 36 PSI, not the best scenario for leak detection. Furthermore, the inspection was heading uphill toward the area of interest, and could expect even lower pressure nearer to the suspected leak location area due to loss of head pressure as the pipe ascended the slope.

Further complicating matters, the pipe wall thickness was determined to be about 4 inches, and leak paths that pass through 4 inches of concrete and mortar can often include sharp bends that can muffle leak signatures.

From the insertion point, Sahara inspected a total of 2,400 feet, passing through the cul-de-sac area at around 1,600 feet from insertion.

Sahara platform inside a pipe filled with water

A slow pullback of the tethered Sahara tool to recheck areas of interest

During deployment, review of acoustic data noted a few areas of interest, but nothing definitive. The inspection continued past these areas of interest in the hopes of finding something more conclusive.  When nothing was found, the Pure crew began a slow pullback of the tethered Sahara tool to recheck the areas of interest.

One of the benefits of a tethered tool is that two inspection passes can be conducted on the same section on the same day.

Of the possible leak areas, one acoustic anomaly seemed promising, and that spot was marked above ground.

Since Pure could not get a consistent peak location, and since the audio lacked many classic leak characteristics, it was flagged as an anomaly on site. After review of the acoustic signature off site using advanced sound enhancing software, Pure Technologies was able to resolve the signature as a leak, and reported it as a leak to the City of Southlake.

Because this suspected leak did not, even in post analysis, present with all the elements of a leak signature, and because it lacked a distinctive peak location, Pure Technologies recommended that the City of Southlake check a 7-foot length of the pipe, all the way around the pipe.

Worker digging to reveal the leak

Surprise, surprise, 4 leaks verified

As directed, Southlake crews excavated the indicated areas and found not one but four leaks. The presence of four leaks in close proximity to one another, all at low pressure, explained the difficulty of finding a leak peak.

The four leaks located ranged from pencil-sized to quarter-sized. The sloppy mortar job over an access plate into the 42-inch Caylor Main was just good enough to help muffle the leaks, but not good enough to protect the cylinder from corrosion and eventual leakage.

Small leak before being fixed

In the end, despite difficulties of inspecting small leaks in a low-pressure environment, the inspection was deemed a success, and Southlake was extremely pleased with the accurate results.

Thanks to collaboration between crews from Southlake and Pure, the mystery leak was solved. The inline tethered Sahara tool came through again.

Mackay City Coast

Justification of an ongoing condition assessment program can, at times, be difficult for water utilities. However, successful inspections that deliver actionable outcomes on how to manage aging assets make this justification much easier.

Certainly that was the case for Mackay Regional Council (MRC) when it engaged the services of Pure Technologies to conduct a variety of condition assessment inspections on their critical mains in order to improve their understanding of these aging assets.

For MRC, the goal of the 3-year Condition Assessment Program is to undertake and then analyze the results from the preliminary inspections, followed by a commitment to explore secondary condition assessments, where warranted.

Mackay satellital image with mains map

About Mackay Regional Council

Mackay Regional Council is a small but progressive water utility that serves a population of nearly 124,000 on the eastern coast of North Queensland, Australia. The utility has a total of 2,150 km of water and wastewater mains in its network. MRC is proactive in its approach to water management, and takes pride in the development of its industry-leading condition assessment program, initiating the first leg of the program with Pure mid-2016.

SmartBall with case and insertion tools

First SmartBall inspection on two sewer rising mains

In June 2016, MRC retained the services of Pure to perform a SmartBall® inspection of the Coles Road Sewer Rising Main (SRM), also known as force main. The Coles Road SRM is an asbestos cement (AC) and ductile iron (DI) pipeline that transfers wastewater from the Coles Road Sewer Pump Station (SPS) to the Mount Basset Sewer Rising Main. The purpose of the SmartBall inspection was to identify leaks and pockets of trapped gas along the pipeline.

Pure recommended the SmartBall tool for its relative ease of insertion and extraction of in-service pipelines, and its ability to inspect long distances in a single deployment. The tool’s acoustic sensor can detect ‘pinhole’ sized leaks and gas pockets within a location accuracy of plus or minus 1.8 m (6 feet), a critical factor in urban environments where excavations can be costly and disruptive to the public.

After the review of data integrity and backup from the Coles Road site, the crew moved to the Beaconsfield SRM, where a further SmartBall inspection was completed. The inspection went as smoothly as the first, and all data was confirmed for quality.

This technology has assisted us in assessing the operational and potential structural integrity of some hard to access buried mains of high failure consequence without significant service outage or worker safety in a way not previously utilised.  It certainly lifts us out of the purely reactive mode toward the proactive assessment of buried infrastructure in terms of service delivery risk management and maintenance/renewal planning…”

MRC Project Leader

Second SmartBall inspection on a sewer rising main and raw water main

During the next phase of the project, Pure conducted a preliminary condition assessment of two more critical mains, the Mount Basset SRM and the following day, on Marwood Bore Raw Water Main. Pure always utilizes separate inspection sets for potable and wastewater to eliminate any risk of contamination.

SmartBall extraction

Second SmartBall inspection on a sewer rising main and raw water main

Results of the preliminary condition assessment were utilised to identify whether a secondary condition assessment is required.

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

Gas pockets are of significant concern in rising sewer 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.

Utilizing Sahara™ platform with CCTV

For the third phase of the Program, MRC engaged Pure for a condition assessment of the Gordon Street Water Main. In order to inspect this critical main, Pure conducted three (3) separate insertions using the Sahara inspection platform. The Sahara system uses an innovative tethered platform to conduct non-destructive inline leak and gas pocket detection, and an internal visual inspection via closed circuit television (CCTV), without disruption to service. This allows for real-time reporting of acoustic anomalies detected in the pressurized lines.

The inspection occurred over a period of two nights to minimize traffic disruption. The targeted portion of the main consists of cast iron (CI) and asbestos cement (AC) pipe in three diameters.

“We are still to progress fully into this mode of operation, however this technology appears to provide us a firm foundation to step off from…”

Don Pidsley

Working during the night

Collected data gives MRC actionable information on necessity for secondary assessments

All in all, the data collected to date has given MRC a better understanding of their critical assets. By undertaking a preliminary condition assessment approach, MRC now has actionable information regarding the necessity of future secondary assessments.

Based on preliminary results, minimal disruption and collaborative cooperation between the mobilization teams, MRC has inquired about additional inspections under their in their industry-leading condition assessment program.

Workers meeting in a parking

Some pipeline inspections are more daunting than others, as Daphne Utilities recently found out. Not only was the planned condition assessment on a critical pipeline hampered by non-existent plans, there were also obstacles in the pipeline path that included urban development atop the pipe and an alligator-infested swamp.

In the end, to map and assess their pipeline, Daphne Utilities opted for the Sahara® leak and gas pocket detection platform, which includes the ability to determine pipeline alignment with sub-meter accuracy.  With the Sahara platform, Daphne Utilities could not only determine the exact pipeline location, but also assess its operation and condition.

Daphne’s Story

Affectionately known as the “Jubilee City”, Daphne was incorporated in 1953 and due to its location, serves as a suburb of Mobile, Alabama. Daphne is located along the eastern shore of Mobile Bay, an area served by Daphne Utilities, which provides water, wastewater, and natural gas services to approximately 25,000 residents.

In 1985 the City purchased the Lake Forest Utility, and in doing so, Daphne Utilities took over their existing wastewater treatment plant, which was built in the 1970s.  The facility discharges through the Daphne Outfall, a 6,000-foot, 18-inch ductile iron effluent pipeline that discharges treated wastewater into Mobile Bay. Although the main was critical to the City, little information about it was transferred when Daphne Utilities acquired the facility.  Daphne Utilities later officially named the facility the Water Reclamation Facility.

For many years after Daphne Utilities took over the Water Reclamation Facility the outfall line operated as a gravity discharge line. As the population grew and flows to the plant increased, Daphne Utilities installed pumps to occasionally increase the volume of treated wastewater passing through the discharge line. As development expanded, the situation progressed from a time when the pumps occasionally ran, to the point where the pumps ran almost continuously.

Satellite view with sewer location

Over the years the gravity main transformed into a force main

Now, a pipe designed as a gravity main had transformed into a force main, pumping under pressure at all times, with its location and condition unknown – and with no redundancy.

To proactively manage this critical asset, Daphne Utilities retained the services of Pure Technologies for a one-day Sahara® leak and gas pocket detection inspection of the Daphne Outfall, with a mapping deliverable.

The primary purpose of the inspection was to determine the pipeline alignment, since you can’t maintain what you can’t locate.  Since the 18-inch outfall was built, the terrain had changed markedly.  The original shoreline had been extended by hundreds of feet to accommodate the construction of a major highway and several hotels and restaurants.

In fact, based on best guesses and poor drawings, Daphne Utilities suspected that a five-story Hampton Inn had been built on top of the 18-inch outfall!

In short, Daphne Utilities didn’t know the exact pipeline location or its operational conditions.

Bridges over a river

Section of the outfall traverses area known as “Gator Alley”

To ascertain the alignment and condition of the 18-inch outfall, Daphne Utilities engaged Pure Technologies for a single day inspection. In addition to the challenge of not knowing the exact pipeline alignment, it also appeared that the pipeline traversed under a swamp sanctuary for hundreds of alligators and other wildlife, in an area known as “Gator Alley.”

Due to the location that the line traverses, extra safety precautions were needed for the inspection crews. Project planning included the deployment of an alligator watchman to watch specifically for a notorious 14-foot alligator known to inhabit the area in the vicinity of the 18-inch outfall.

Sahara inspection technology chosen for accuracy at pinpointing leaks and gas pockets

To conduct the mapping and assessment survey, Pure recommended the Sahara leak and gas pocket detection platform. Sahara is an inline tethered tool that can assess pipelines 6 inches and larger, without any disruption to service.

Because the sensor tool is tethered, an operator can stop and reverse the tool to investigate acoustic events such as leaks, gas pockets and visual anomalies. At the same time, an above-ground operator locates the sensor above ground, marking the exact location of the pipeline at any point along the pipe with sub-meter accuracy.

The mapping capability of Sahara allows utility owners to determine the exact location of their pipeline at any point, as well as the location of any leaks or gas pockets.

Results give Daphne jubilant confidence moving forward

Analysis of the acoustic data identified zero (0) leaks and eight (8) air pockets, which were impacting the efficiency of the line, as gas pockets occupy space within the already maxed-out pipeline. During the inspection, the alignment of the pipeline was determined and recorded from the treatment plant to the edge of the marsh where Mobile Bay starts, confirming the pipeline does indeed pass underneath the Hampton Inn.

Not bad for a day’s work

In a single day, the Sahara crew determined flow velocity, inserted the tethered tool, inspected 1,000 feet, determined the pipeline alignment, and confirmed its location and the location of 8 gas pockets.  As a result, Daphne now knows they have gas pockets and they now know the line location in order to execute a plan to deal with the gas pockets.

As for dealing with alligators, that’s unnecessary now.

Alligator watching to the cammera
Sahara platform inside a pipe filled with water

For more than 15 years, water operators have relied on the Sahara® leak detection platform for speed, accuracy and on-the-spot results required for inspection of complex pipeline networks typically found in urban environments.

The Sahara in-line tethered tool can assess pipelines 6 inches and larger, while the line remains in service. Because it’s tethered, an operator has complete control, and can closely examine events of interest, such as a leaks, air pockets, and visual anomalies.

The tool is propelled by the product flow, requiring a flow velocity of only one foot per second, and is able to navigate in flows up to ten feet per second, with no disruption to service.

Sahara device

Sahara tool can be inserted into almost any existing tap 2 inches and greater

To insert the tool into an active pipeline, almost any tap 2 inches and greater can be used. As the tool enters the pipe, a small parachute or drogue is inflated by the flow velocity of the water. The parachute pulls the tool through the pipe, with the probe lighting the way with its onboard LED lighting system, highlighting any visual defects in the pipeline.

If the Sahara tool encounters any acoustic events—such as a leak—the operator can stop the tool at the exact point of the leak. At the same time, an above-ground operator locates the sensor, marking the exact leak location within plus or minus 18 inches (0.5 meter). This enables users to know in real time where the leaks are, and where repairs are needed.

Worker finding the exact spot for a issue reported during the inspection

Detects up to 4 times as many leaks as trunk main correlators

The tool can detect up to four times as many leaks as trunk main correlators because the acoustic sensor is brought right to the leak – pinholes, cracks, joint leaks – Sahara can detetct virtually any type of leak. In addition, the tool can detect air pockets in the pipeline, both visually and acoustically.

As the Sahara tool inspects the pipeline, it may encounter valves that connect a high pressure zone to a low pressure zone, and if one of those valves is not fully closed, Sahara can also detect the lack of isolation between zones during the inspection.

Visual anomalies detected during inspection

Detect leaks, air pockets and visual anomalies while mapping the pipeline path

The tool can navigate single bends without issue, but is limited up to 270 cumulative degrees of bends in a single survey.

While the video and acoustic inspection is taking place, the tool can also be used to map the pipeline path, providing a clear plan view of the pipeline with sub-meter accuracy. The beauty of the Sahara tethered platform is that it can provide a variety of pipeline condition information in real time, with no disruption to service, on all pipe types.

Houston Skyline

Enwave Houston deploys Sahara tool to quickly locate leak in chilled water line

In December 2015, Pure Technologies (Pure) was retained by Boyer Inc. to perform a Sahara inspection on a 24-inch Chilled Water Supply pipeline (CWS) and on a 24-inch Chilled Water Return pipeline (CWR) operated by Enwave Houston.

The purpose of the inspection was to locate a suspected leak on one of the dual lines that run parallel along the downtown core. Large cities often operate central chilled water plants to cool water that is then sold to building owners for use in air conditioning.

Tools on the surface before starting with the inspection

Insertions completed at night, with no traffic disruption or chilled water disruption

Boyer proposed two separate Sahara insertions during the planning phase. Pure completed both insertions at night over a two-day period for a total of 795 feet of pipeline inspected, with no traffic disruption or chilled water disruption. Acoustic data was collected and recorded during the inspections as the Sahara sensor traversed the main. The data was evaluated on site in real time to identify events associated with leaks and pockets of trapped air.

During the inspections, one (1) leak and zero (0) air pockets were detected. The leak was located 144 feet downstream from the insertion point with sub-meter accuracy. This allowed a pinpoint excavation to be made for repairs, minimizing disruption to downtown Houston traffic, and minimizing the contractor`s cost of excavation and road restoration.

Once again, the Sahara tool proved its worth.

Tarrant Regional Water District (TRWD) and Pure Technologies U.S. (Pure) have a long history of working together to keep the water transmission mains in the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) area in good operating condition.

The partnership began 17 years ago with mutual development of electromagnetic technology to inspect prestressed concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP). One of Pure’s first electromagnetic inspection prototypes was developed (with funding assistance from American Water Works Research Foundation [now Water Research Foundation (WRF)], commercialized (with assistance from TRWD) and first pulled through TRWD’s pipeline on a little red wagon!

Inspection Prototype

TRWD is one of the largest raw water suppliers in DFW with large-diameter pipelines that transport water from the East Texas Cedar Creek and Richland-Chambers Reservoirs. TRWD provides water to almost two million people and spans an 11-county area in North Texas.

Electromagnetic Inspector

Electromagnetic technology platforms recognized around the world

Since 1999, TRWD has utilized Pure’s advanced inspection and condition assessment services to evaluate than 240 miles of PCCP. Over the years, TRWD has deployed a variety of inspection platforms to determine the condition of their critical supply lines. This includes PipeDiver®, a free-swimming electromagnetic inspection technology, Sahara®, an acoustic leak and gas pocket detection tool, and a manned electromagnetic tool equipped with PureEM® to collect full circumferential data of the pipe wall.

The condition assessment data is compiled with a Geographic Information System (GIS) deliverable, which provides TRWD with detailed information that is used to implement a targeted pipeline repair and replacement strategy.

TRWD utilizes Pure Technologies’ cost-effective Assess and Address® approach to target specific pipes for repair or replacement that are near the end of their service life, as opposed to replacing entire sections of pipe in good condition. In addition, this proactive approach allows TRWD to document significant savings over a complete pipeline replacement strategy.

Since 2000, a total of 271 pipes have been replaced during planned maintenance based on the results from Pure inspections.  As a result, TRWD has noticed a dramatic decline in failures since the late 90s doing a risk-based prioritization and replacement/rehab program, in addition to implementing cathodic protection, pressure transient surge reduction measures, and pipeline protection measures from external loads.

TRWD is extremely proactive when it comes to understanding their pipeline infrastructure. They take pride in their ability to locate and repair leaks, and repair or replace damaged pipes during routine maintenance schedules – rather than in emergency situations.

Tech inspecting a pipe with a tool

At Singapore International Water Week 2016, one of Pure`s licencees presented a poster on two acoustic-based technologies (tethered Sahara® and free-swimming SmartBall®) used to locate 674 leaks on large-diameter trunk mains operated by this Malaysia water operator.

Conducted over four months, the in-line inspection and resulting repairs has saved total of 46.7 million liters of water daily. The pipe diameters ranged from 300mm to 2,200mm.

 

SmartBall in-line leak inspection platform

The SmartBall tool was chosen as an inspection platform for its sensitivity to small leaks, minimal pipeline modifications required for insertion and extraction and ability to inspect long distances in one deployment. The free-swimming, acoustic-based SmartBall assembly is inserted into the flow of a pipeline, traverses the pipeline, and is captured and extracted at a point downstream.

Sahara in-line leak detection platform

The tethered Sahara tool includes an acoustic sensor to perform leak and gas pocket detection, a high-resolution video camera to assess internal pipe conditions, and an electromagnetic sensor to identify stress in the pipe wall. Because the parachute-like tool is drawn by product flow and is tethered to a data acquisition unit on the surface, it gives the operator close control to confirm suspected leaks, gas pockets and other pipeline anomalies.

 

City of Montreal Skyline

The City of Montreal believes that the best medicine is preventative medicine, especially as it applies to its water network.

Montreal has an impressive water system that supplies drinking water to a population of nearly 1.9 million people. Since 2002, the historic city, the second largest metropolis in Canada, began a long-term major rehabilitation of its extensive network of water main (770 kilometers) and distribution pipes (4,600 kilometers).

In 2015, as part of a pre-emptive program to reduce loss of non-revenue water, the City partnered with Pure Technologies (Pure) to conduct an ongoing, three-year leak detection survey on a series of critical pipes within its network, several of which are located in the downtown core.

Inserting tools through inspection hole in a street

Stopping small leaks from developing into major breaks

The City recognized the value of detecting leaks, however small, to prevent these from developing into greater problems. Compared to a major pipe rupture, which can cause catastrophic damage and incur immediate excavation and costly repairs, small leaks are less obvious at first, and can seep underground for some time without obvious detection.

In addition to physical losses of water caused by a series of small leaks, the escaping non-revenue water can eventually erode the surrounding soil making the area more prone to washouts or sinkholes, a major headache especially in densely populated areas. Unplanned excavations to repair unforeseen leaks can also erode consumer confidence in a public utility.

Leak detection strategy includes Sahara acoustic video inspection

For its multi-year leak detection program, the City requested Pure to deploy its highly reliable and precise Sahara® acoustic video inspection on 46 kilometers of pipelines chiefly in the downtown core. The pipeline sections consist of bar wrappedsteel and cast iron pipe.

The Sahara platform is modular, and can be configured with a variety of sensor tools to perform the condition assessment. This includes an acoustic sensor to perform leak and gas pocket detection, a high-resolution video camera to assess internal pipe conditions, and an electromagnetic sensor to identify stress in the pipe wall.

Because the Sahara tool is drawn by product flow via a small drag chute, and is tethered to a data acquisition unit on the surface, it gives the operator close control to confirm suspected leaks, gas pockets and other pipeline anomalies. The tool can visually confirm pipe irregularities, continuously recording, allowing for both real-time and post-processing analysis.

Workers during Sahara device insertion

 

Data used to shape urgency and timing of rehabilitation efforts

For the Montreal project, the purpose of the Sahara inspection was to assess the condition of the pipeline by identifying and locating leaks, pockets of trapped gas and to identify larger visual anomalies utilizing Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage collected during the inspection. The data would help shape the rehabilitation urgency and timing.

To date, a total of 13.2 kilometers have been assessed. Analysis of the data identified eight (8) leaks and zero (0) gas pockets in the pipeline sections inspected. The Sahara sensor was tracked above ground using the Sahara Locator device to pinpoint in real time the location of any potential leaks or anomalies.

The leak detection program has not been without challenges. Valve operations were needed to achieve required pressure flows, and mobilization had to be based on hours of demand, and inspections conducted during those hours.  A number of tight chamber clearances meant the creation of new insertions taps, and because of the urban environment, markings had to be precise, and crews had to deal with traffic issues.

Despite challenges, the assessment is proving its worth from a verification viewpoint, and the leaks have been either repaired or addressed for prioritization. The current program is scheduled for completion by 2017.

With its pre-emptive leak detection program, the City is Montreal is a great example of a smart water manager taking proactive efforts at keeping its network in healthy shape.

Houston and Oaklahoma

Sahara® technology is winning accolades from satisfied owners and operators of buried infrastructure the world over. In North America, two recent projects demonstrate the benefits of using this in-line tethered tool for critical leak detection surveys, especially when speed and accuracy are paramount.

Sahara Diagram

Sahara is the first tool designed for live inspection of large diameter mains, and one of the most accurate tools available for detecting and locating real-time leaks, gas pockets and structural defects in complex networks typically found in urban environments.

The tool is inserted via a valved appurtenance, and then moves through the pipeline using the flow of water and a small drag chute – all without interrupting service. Once the sensor tool is inserted, it remains tethered to the surface. This allows for real-time results and maximum control, as the tool can be winched back and forth to immediately confirm suspected leaks and other anomalies. The sensor is also tracked at ground level by a staff member, allowing for precise spot markings for excavations.

Oklahoma City welcomes Sahara leak detection survey on critical main

In March 2015, McKee Utility Contractors (McKee) retained Pure Technologies (Pure) to perform a quick-turnaround leak detection survey on a troublesome 72-inch Transmission Main (TM) in Oklahoma City. The critical TM, which is composed of prestressed concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP) and transmits potable water, is owned and operated by Oklahoma City Water Utilities (OCWU).

In this instance, OCWU suspected a leak along a low point of the line where surface water was noticed. A previous catastrophic failure on the line compelled the utility to call on the prime contractor McKee to dig, locate, and repair the leak.

Thwarted by two days of digging and not finding the leak, McKee called on Pure to assess approximately 4400 feet of pipe and to determine the location of the leak source and any gas pockets using Sahara leak detection technology.

Quick mobilization, short turnaround timing

The planning and execution took place in short order. McKee contacted Pure on Saturday, the project planned on Sunday and by Monday a field crew and equipment were mobilized to the site in Oklahoma City. On Tuesday, a single inspection was performed, and one (1) leak was detected 360 feet downstream from the Sahara insertion point. The leak was classified as a large leak based on the audible range.  The inspection continued for a total inspection distance of 546 feet.  No other leaks were detected at the time of inspection.

By the time Pure began extracting the Sahara tool, McKee had ordered a backhoe enroute, and by afternoon the pipe was excavated, the leak located, and the repairs were able to begin.

Shane McKee, president of McKee was extremely pleased with the accuracy of the Sahara technology and the fast turnaround from the Pure team.

“Based on the results I’ve seen, I’m never again digging up another pipe again without Pure and its technology to help guide the process.”

Shane Mckee

Shane Mckee, McKee Utility Contractors

Sahara Insertion Tool

Houston energy company deploys Sahara tool to quickly locate leak in chilled water line.

Large cities often operate central chilled water plants to cool water that is then sold to building owners for use in air conditioning.

In Houston, Enwave Houston delivers chilled water through 5.4 miles of pipe to air-condition 24 buildings, including Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. The 27,000 ton system uses ice storage technology to help keep central business district buildings comfortable in spite of summer`s high temperatures and humidity.

In December 2015, Pure was retained by Boyer Inc. to perform a Sahara inspection on Enwave`s 24-inch Chilled Water Supply pipeline (CWS) and also on their 24-inch Chilled Water Return pipeline (CWR). The purpose of the inspection was to locate a suspected leak on one of the dual lines that run parallel along the downtown core.

Data identified events associated with leaks and air pockets.

Boyer proposed two separate insertions during the planning phase. Pure completed both proposed insertions over a two-day period for a total of 795 feet of pipeline inspected. Acoustic data was collected and recorded during the inspections as the Sahara sensor traversed the main. The data was evaluated to identify events associated with leaks and pockets of trapped air.

During the inspections, one leak and zero air pockets were detected. The Sahara sensor was tracked above ground to track the sensor along each pipeline and verify the endpoint of each endpoint. The leak was located 144 feet downstream from the insertion point on the second day with sub-meter accuracy, allowing a pinpoint excavation to be made for repairs, minimizing disruption to downtown Houston traffic, and minimizing the contractor`s cost of excavation and road restoration.

When time and accuracy matter, utilities count on the Sahara platform.

The two case studies demonstrate the efficacy of the Sahara leak detection system. When time and pinpoint accuracy matter, the Sahara platform gets the job done right.

Flower Mound Sign

Named for a prominent landmark mound with more than 175 species of wild flowers, the Town of Flower Mound is ranked as one of the ten best places to earn a living and raise a family in Texas.

To complement these natural and economic positives, the scenic Town of 70,000 is also known for its municipal water stewardship and proactive approach in maintaining the quality of its buried infrastructure. This includes 430 miles of water mains and 230 miles sewer pipes serving 22,000 residential and industrial connections.

As part of the ongoing program for condition assessment of its buried infrastructure, the Town recently retained the services of Pure Technologies U.S. Inc. (Pure) to conduct a Sahara® leak and gas pocket detection inspection of approximately 21,200 feet of the Potable Water Main (PWM), which connects the Pintail Pump Station to the Waketon Water Tower. Constructed in 1973, the critical section of 20-and 30-inch pipeline is comprised of bar-wrapped (AWWA C303)steel and ductile iron pipe.

“Most pipelines are designed for 50 to 75 years expectancy, and service life can vary depending on factors such as depth, soil conditions and pipe material,” said Randy Williams, Utility Services Manager of Flower Mound Public Works (FMPW) District. “Rather than waiting for breaks to happen, the Town strives to assess the condition of the assets before that happens.”

The Sahara inspection followed a structural assessment using a PipeDiver® inspection of this same pipeline conducted one month earlier and covered many of the identical pipeline sections. FMPW chose CCTV inline video and enhanced electromagnetic (EM) assessment to provide a comprehensive condition assessment.

PipeDiver platform carried to the insertion point

Pure’s free-flowing PipeDiver platform, which preceded the Sahara inspection along the same pipeline, is being carried to the insertion point.

Detecting small leaks with Sahara inspection platform

The Sahara® pipeline inspection platform is one of the most accurate tools available for leak detection, gas pocket detection, and locating structural defects in complex networks of large diameter water and wastewater pipes.

The tethered tool is capable of locating very small leaks typically within 1.5 feet (0.5 meters) of their actual location. The tool also features inline video that allows operators to observe internal in-service pipe conditions.

Added value: Flower Mound inspection included design and installation of taps

The insertion locations for the Sahara inspection were dictated by the previous PipeDiver inspection, which indicated a large number of bends and long distances to cover with less than ideal access.

In light of the limitations, and within a very short time frame, Pure took on the responsibility to manage the tapping process in-house, including the design, excavation and installation of the taps to insert and extract the Sahara tool from the pipes. Although this task was atypical of work normally provided, it is an example of the added value Pure can bring to a project.

Detected: one leak, one large gas pocket, plus improved GIS information

It’s still early in game, and the electromagnetic results have yet to be fully evaluated. Nonetheless, the Sahara inspection detected a leak on an undocumented offtake installed on pipe suspected to have been blanked off and buried, and now leaking.

In addition to pinpointing the leak and gas pocket, the condition assessment located an additional six undocumented outlets the Town was previously unaware of, leading Pure and FMPW to surmise that the outlets were installed and equipped with blind flanges for future expansion. Additionally, during this inspection, sections of pipeline alignment were discovered to be quite different than what FMPW expected.

FMPW now has a true comprehensive condition assessment of their pipeline that includes GIS quality mapping, video inspection and recording of the pipeline interior, leak and gas pocket identification and repair, and assessment of the structural integrity on a pipe-by-pipe basis — allowing for localized verification and repair. Overall, GIS information has been improved, with location and images of possible leaks, defects or anomalies.

“The proactive approach we’re taking allows us to predict water main breaks, which improves our reliability of service,” said Williams. “When you locate a defect, you can schedule a repair, notify people, and get it done at the right time of day, and at a schedule of our choosing. Everybody benefits.”

Randy Williams, Utility Services Manager of Flower Mound Public Works (FMPW) District, talks about the Utility’s approach to condition assessment.

Dallas Water Utilities Discovers Massive Hidden Sinkhole And Achieves Huge Savings Through Annual Leak Detection Program

The year began with the Lone Star state experiencing its fourth year of drought, compelling State Governor Greg Abbott to reissue an Emergency Disaster Proclamation in early May to deal with the declining aquifer levels and severe water shortages. Only a few weeks later, torrential rains flooded so much of the state that the Governor issued another Emergency Disaster Proclamation to prepare for the new crisis. Then, another long stretch of baking heat.

Weather extremes push water utilities to the limit

For most utilities, weather can play havoc with buried infrastructure. While drought can cause the dry brittle ground to shift and pipes to break, excessive rain can result in washouts, loss of bedding and risk for accelerated pipe failures.

In 2015, weather extremes in such a short period taxed water utilities across Texas. Despite the challenging environmental conditions, Dallas Water Utilities (DWU) moved forward to carry out its annual leak detection program. Over the years, DWU has focused its water loss reduction efforts on both its critical large-diameter transmission mains, which have the highest consequence of failure, and on its distribution systems.

Pipe leaking

Detection results include discovery of a large pipe leak near a major roadway

Staff inserting Sahara tool

Crews successfully used the Sahara® tool to locate 10 leaks in 16 miles of inspection.

DWU’s first condition assessment program using electromagnetics was completed in 2001, followed by the use of newer leak detection technologies in succeeding years. The program is now in its 14th year of operation, and DWU has become a showcase utility for proactive pipeline management, a fact recognized by the Texas Water Development Board.

DWU adds 16 miles to its leak detection program in 2015

DWU’s distribution system is one of the largest in the United States, being a regional provider, the utility delivers water service to 2.4 million customers within the Dallas and surrounding city limits. The major distribution system includes over 4,900 miles (7,800 km) of distribution and transmission mains.

DWU’s goal is to continually evaluate, upgrade and replace its water and wastewater assets in order to make its systems operate efficiently. DWU’s long-time partner in this infrastructure endeavour is Pure Technologies (Pure). This year Pure was contracted to perform leak and air pocket detection for 16 miles (25.7 kilometers) of water mains made of a variety of materials, including prestressed concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP), cast iron pipe (CIP) and ductile iron pipe (DIP).

DWU deploys inline detection tools

For inspection of its transmission mains, DWU has long used Sahara leak detection and inline closed circuit video (CCTV) provided by Pure. More recently, DWU has also used SmartBall® technology for longer inspections.

Sahara is the first tool designed for live inspection of large-diameter mains, and one of the most accurate tools available for detecting leaks, gas pockets and structural defects in complex networks typically found in urban environments.

The tool is pulled by the flow of water by a small drag chute while the line remains in service. When the sensor is inserted into a 2-inch tap, it remains tethered to the surface. This allows for real-time results and maximum control, as the tool can be winched back and forth to immediately confirm suspected leaks and other anomalies. The sensor is also tracked at ground level by a staff member, allowing for precise spot markings for excavations.

Detection results include discovery of massive sinkhole near major roadway

The 2015 inspections, conducted over 23 days, challenged the Pure and DWU crews as they faced an environment with temperatures soaring to 104°F (41°C) on many consecutive days.

In spite of the trying working conditions, the crews successfully used the Sahara tool to locate 10 leaks in 16 miles of inspection. This included the unexpected discovery of a very large leak in the barrel of a 12-inch ductile iron water main. DWU’s proactive repair prevented a collapse since the large leak was creating a cavernous sinkhole near a major roadway.

By locating and repairing the leak, which had been seeping water for an estimated year, DWU averted a potential catastrophic crisis and saved the utility at least 893,000 gallons of lost water per year, equivalent to filling 1353 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

Olympic-sized swimming pool

Large leak discovery saved DWU at least 893,000 gallons of lost water annually, equivalent to filling 1353 Olympic-sized pools.

Sahara and SmartBall inspections in Dallas have been extremely successful, locating 160 leaks in 209 miles. The estimated water savings from these leaks is about 4 MGD. For DWU, the reduction in failures has reduced loss claims and service interruptions, as well as reduced treatment and delivery costs.

Whatever the weather, DWU is moving forward.

A ruptured sewer pipe can attract a lot of unwanted attention, even when it happens on private property. Last year, hours before celebrities were to arrive at the Golden Globes Awards show at the Beverley Hills Hotel, a reputed sewer pipe burst, spewing a mess of wastewater on the red carpet, according to media reports. When large pipes fail, it’s usually breaking news. And when the failed pipeline is part of a pressurized wastewater force main network, repercussions to the environment and the public have the potential to be catastrophic, with fallout to a utility’s reputation. In Canada, pressurized force mains that carry sewage make up only about 7.5 percent of the typical wastewater system compared to gravity mains. Because sewer force mains tend to run constantly, and often operate without redundancy, there is little opportunity to assess the pipes. When problems arise, and a critical force main is out of commission, the entire wastewater system can stop, causing overflows or the need to implement costly bypass pumping. Worse still, pollution generated by a raw sewage leak can flood to the surface and into a watercourse. Clean-up costs can be staggering and environmental impacts can be devastating.

PureRobotics device

The PureRobotics platform can assess the structural integrity of force mains and provide inline video to observe internal pipe conditions.

Force mains have unique signs of impending failure

Internally, force mains have unique warning signs of failure. Because of the sewage flow, trapped gas pockets can allow concentrations of hydrogen sulfide gas to be released from solution and subsequently convert to sulfuric acid by bacteria on the pipe wall, leading to corrosion of the pipe wall. As the pipe wall corrodes internally, it becomes weaker and more likely to fail unexpectedly. While corrosion and defect failures on sewer pipelines are a fact of life for wastewater utilities, these failures do not occur systemically. As a result, knowing when to replace and when to preserve assets through close inspection is more critical than ever.

SmartBall with extraction tool and controls

Managing force mains proactively can help utilities prevent environmental regulation violations that are expensive to mitigate.

Addressing the high consequence of failure in wastewater pipes

Aging pipes, increasing costs of failures and high replacement costs represent significant challenges facing force main owners. As a result, utilities have come to rely on Pure Technologies for its suite of technologies that can identify the weak links. Selective rehabilitation of force mains maximizes the life of the asset, typically at 10-15 percent of replacement costs. Pure’s strategy employs a risk-management approach that looks at likelihood of failure (LOF) and consequence of failure (COF). LOF variables are related to the chance that a pipe could fail, and include: pipe age, material, operating conditions and soil conditions, among other things. COF variables may include the pipe size, its location, environmental and social consequences of a rupture, interruption to service and tarnished public reputations.

Low risk assessment

For low risk force mains, screening and desktop evaluations such as hydraulic analysis and pressure management within the system are often enough to manage the assets. As risk goes up, however, utilities should look at higher resolution technologies that offer more confidence for higher predictability.

Medium resolution assessment

The SmartBall® Pipe Wall Assessment (PWA) tool is Pure’s best technology for identifying leaks, gas pockets and wall stress locations in metallic sewer force mains. PWA technology looks at pipeline walls affected by loading and bedding conditions, as well as other factors that cause stress on the pipe, including structural damage caused by internal or external corrosion. As the free-swimming SmartBall tool rolls through the pipeline, it collects both acoustic and electromagnetic (EM) data. The acoustic sensor is used to identify the sound of wastewater leaving the pipeline, or more often, the sound of trapped gas at the top of the pipeline. Trapped gas within a force main may lead to internal corrosion and eventual breakdown of the pipe wall which is the primary cause of force main failures. In addition to the acoustic data, the SmartBall platform also collects EM data to identify areas of the pipe wall that are under stress. Areas of the pipe wall with damage will be under more stress than areas with limited or no damage. Stress on the pipe wall can also be caused by other factors such as excessive loading and hard bedding surrounding the pipe. Recent developments in SmartBall technology now allow for the combination of leak and gas pocket surveys with PWA surveys in a single deployment, providing a complete screening tool for force mains. Based on initial surveys using the SmartBall PWA tool, areas where gas pockets overlap with stress anomalies represent the largest area of concern of force main owners, as it indicates a high likelihood of corrosion.

High resolution assessment

In force mains with a higher risk, utilities should also consider assessment with a higher resolution tool in addition to a pre-screening survey that detects anomalous changes. For lines that cannot be taken out of service, Pure can deploy the PipeDiver tool, which uses electromagnetic sensors to detect areas of damage along the pipeline. The inline inspection system is an innovative, free-swimming condition assessment platform specially designed for in-service inspection of pressure pipelines. Configured with PureEM™ sensor arrays, the tool can be used with precision to identify wire breaks in PCCP and broad areas of cylinder corrosion in metallic pipe.

No one solution for every pipe or pipeline

While there is no silver bullet for assessing every pipeline, if a utility has a strong understanding of the risk and operational conditions of different areas in their system, an appropriate and defensible inspection plan can be developed. This process allows force main owners to develop a sustainable long-term strategy for managing their critical force main assets.

Water and sewer utilities across North America are facing a major funding gap related to their buried pipeline infrastructure. Based on current estimates, utilities do not have enough capital available to fix or replace their aging assets. In addition to the funding gap, utilities are under scrutiny because of increased incidences of pipeline failures that are disruptive to communities and expensive to mitigate.

This new reality has forced utilities to squeeze more remaining life out of existing assets, creating more demand for condition assessment programs that allow utilities to identify specific areas of damage and selectively repair pipelines in favor of full replacement.

Historically, condition assessment has been in the realm of a few specialized firms that respond to high profile pipeline failures; however, the industry has changed and condition assessment is becoming widely used and trusted. This approach has been adopted by many utilities that have successfully managed risk and extended the life of assets for a fraction of the cost of a replacement program.

According to a study by Pure Technologies, the majority of pipelines 16 inches and above can be cost-effectively managed for between 5 and 15 percent of the replacement cost. The study found that pipeline damage is typically not systematic across an entire pipeline, but is usually localized due to factors such as design, manufacturing, installation, environmental, operational or maintenance factors.

Equipped with this information, utilities can be assured that assessing the majority of their mains before replacement can reduce their infrastructure gap and extend the useful life of assets.

However, one question that often gets asked about condition assessment programs is how a utility should choose the right condition assessment solution.

The easiest way to solve this challenge is to employ a risk-based approach to condition assessment using a variety of tools that offer different resolutions.

Staff inserting tools

Defining Risk and Pipeline Priorities

Risk is a measure of the probability and consequence of uncertain future events, in this case, potential pipeline failure. A basic approach can be used to define risk even in complex systems; simply, risk is a product of Consequence of Failure and Likelihood of Failure (CoF x LoF).

Consequence of Failure (COF) refers to the damage a failure would cause based on factors like its location, the amount of users it supplies, and its size and operating pressure. Likelihood of Failure (LOF) refers to the probability of a failure occurring based on factors such as age, pipe material, soil conditions, operating pressure, failure history, among others.

Generally, the Consequence of Failure is well defined by the potential damage a pipeline failure would impose on the surrounding environment and is generally fairly static – or – once defined, it is unlikely going to change rapidly.

With this in mind the key to managing risk, or the possibility that a pipeline could fail, is in understanding the Likelihood of Failure. This can be achieved by quantifying the physical condition of the pipeline and understanding and quantifying the factors that affect the potential for deterioration of the assets.

Once risk is defined, the pipeline inventory can be prioritized which helps in the selection of condition assessment approaches and the application of the appropriate technologies. In general, high-risk pipelines warrant a detailed assessment while low risk pipelines can use lower resolution alternatives.

Using Risk to Select Condition Assessment Techniques

When selecting condition assessment techniques, qualifications and technical judgment should be used in lieu of price. High resolution tools come with a higher cost, but saving money on a low resolution condition assessment is not a responsible alternative for a high-risk main.

For example, the savings gained by selecting a low resolution technology for a large-diameter pipeline with a high CoF are often miniscule in comparison to the repair and capital programming decisions that result from the low resolution condition assessment data. If the data is inconclusive or inaccurate, a utility may unnecessarily invest millions in a capital replacement program that was not required, easily eliminating the savings achieved by selecting the less expensive condition assessment option.

Tech monitoring results

Additionally, the cost of a failure should be considered when selecting a lower-cost assessment for a critical pipeline. The average cost of a large-diameter pipe failure is between US $500,000 and $1.5 million; money saved on lower-resolution assessments can easily be negated by the cost of mitigating a single failure and the resulting reputational damage.

One method of selecting a technology is to compare uncertainty to risk. As mentioned earlier, risk is a measure of the probability and consequence of uncertain future events. When dealing with a high-risk asset, it is important that the solution allows the utility manager to minimize the uncertainty of the condition assessment. More importantly, it is crucial that the utility manager knows the condition of the asset to the best extent possible, particularly in areas where there is a high Consequence of Failure.

Pure Technologies has a suite of condition assessment tools with different resolutions. Our low resolution solutions can provide basic condition data on leaks, air pockets and areas of pipe wall stress that could represent damage. This is a valuable prescreening option for high-risk mains, or alternatively for lower risk mains, can be enough detail for a utility to manage the asset.

Pure’s medium and high resolution tools provide more comprehensive data for higher risk pipe. Our high resolution tools can provide detailed accuracy, for example, locating small pits on metallic pipe. The data collected from both medium and high resolution tools is often used by utilities to create rehabilitation plans for critical mains.

Regardless of the solution provider, it is important that utilities employ a balanced, risk-based approach to condition assessment that uses appropriate tools. The most important factor a utility owner can remember is that there is no silver bullet to assess an entire system.

Abstract

Comprehensive condition assessment of wastewater force mains provides significant challenges to owners/operators of collection systems as the ability to shut down or expose the pipeline for a thorough inspection is often impractical due to operational and/or financial considerations. Traditional gravity sewer inspection techniques (i.e. visual-based technologies) do not always transfer easily to their wastewater pressure pipe counterparts and visual assessments do not provide the structural condition of force mains – something that is critical in determining the true pipe condition. Therefore, a different set of inspection tools and assessment techniques is required for force mains.

The most effective strategy to safely manage a force main inventory is to implement a risk-based approach for any data collection, inspection, condition assessment, and management techniques. Using asset risk to guide the management strategies, an owner/operator can ensure they are implementing the right approach, at the right time, with the lowest financial impact. While recent advances in force main inspection technologies, assessment techniques, and repair/rehabilitation methods now allow for substantial extension of existing asset service life, a risk-based approach to their implementation will ensure resources are focused on the correct pipelines. The goal should always be to focus the proper resources in managing the asset while safely getting the most service life out of the force main.

Authors

  • Travis B. Wagner, Pure Technologies Ltd., Columbia, MD, USA
  • Jennifer Steffens, Pure Technologies Ltd., Atlanta, GA, USA

Abstract

Since the late 1990s there have been numerous inspection and monitoring projects focused on identifying and quantifying wire break damage in PCCP water and wastewater pressure mains. The pressing need to identify and manage deterioration of PCCP has resulted in the rapid development of a small but highly focused niche industry of condition assessment of PCCP mains. During this time, there have been various theories and postulations regarding the performance and deterioration of PCCP mains. This paper statistically reviews data from more than 500 miles of electromagnetic inspection and acoustic monitoring that have been performed since 2001 to develop scientifically based conclusions on a variety of topic areas regarding the performance and deterioration of PCCP mains. Topic areas include:

  • The mean for percent of damaged pipe sections (percent of damage) are reported. The industry has many views on the performance of PCCP. This paper reports the percent of damage by reviewing the total number of PCCP sections inspected and those that were reported as having wire break damage.
  • The percent of damage is further evaluated by the year of manufacture binned according to the various AWWA C301 and C304 versions. This includes an analysis of what is the mean percent of damage for pipe manufactured with Class IV prestressing wire.
  • Percent of damage is also compared between embedded cylinder or lined cylinder pipe to determine if one type of design has an improved performance.
  • Percent of damage is also compared for water (including raw water) vs. wastewater mains

Authors

  • Michael S. Higgins, P.E., Pure Technologies, Columbia, MD, USA.
  • Allison Stroebele, P.Eng., Pure Technologies, Columbia, MD, USA.
  • Sana Zahidi, Pure Technologies, Columbia, MD, USA.

Abstract

Bar-wrapped pipe (“BWP”) is commonly used in pressure pipelines due to its reliability, cost effectiveness and durability. Failure of BWP can occur as a result of long term leakage and subsequent corrosion or as a result of leakage and deterioration of the reinforcing bars over time. The failure can also be the direct result of a transient pressure or other sudden catastrophic events.

The consequence of failure may result in a significant disruption of operation and service for a water utility without any warning. This is a concern because assessing the condition of a damaged BWP is very challenging. In this paper, a nonlinear finite element analysis was used to evaluate the performance of a damaged BWP.

For the structural evaluation, stresses and strains developed in the damaged BWP were evaluated. Cracking and spalling of the mortar lining will eventually lead to the corrosion of the steel components. In an effort to account for the steel deterioration, the model was adjusted by reducing the thickness of the steel cylinder. This study investigates the behavior of a deteriorating BWP under various levels of distress and various internal pressures. The results based on a 24-inch pipe transmission main, are used to define criteria to evaluate the performance of a damaged BWP. Based upon the finite element results obtained in this study, suggestions for future work are presented and discussed.

Authors

  • Ali Alavinasab, Pure Technologies, Branchburg, NJ, USA.
  • Muthu Chandrasekaran, Pure Technologies, Columbia, MD, USA.
  • Edward Padewski III, Pure Technologies, Branchburg, NJ, USA.

There are several methods of locating leaks on water pipelines.

Non-invasive methods, such correlators or listening sticks, work very well on small-diameter distribution mains but often lack the accuracy needed to address large pipes as the sound of a leak does not travel as well as pipe diameter increases.

Infographic about inline leak detection

Conversely, inline leak detection methods aren’t well suited for distribution mains due to pipe size and complexity, but are very effective in accurately locating leaks on large-diameter transmission mains because they bring the leak detection sensor directly to the source of the leak, unlike non-invasive systems.

One of the major challenges utility operators deal with is accurate location of leaks on critical large-diameter pipelines. These pipelines – which are often a crucial supply of water for a large number of customers – sometimes run beneath busy streets, meaning operators cannot afford to shut down service and excavate large portions of a city street to search for suspected leaks, making precise location very crucial.

Inline leak detection tools can locate leaks with close location accuracy, usually within 10-feet or closer, because the leak detection sensor passes the leak location directly, therefore providing a very accurate location estimate. Tethered systems that are controlled by a ground level operator are the most accurate in locating leaks, since the technology operator can control the leak sensor and verify leaks in real time.

By using inline leak detection methods that precisely locate leaks, operators can effectively reduce shutdown and excavation times, allowing for fiscally responsible and efficient repair projects that don’t disrupt busy metropolitan areas.

Another benefit of inline leak detection methods is their accuracy in estimating the size of a leak. The results from an inline leak detection survey provide a precise water loss estimate for each suspected leak. This allows pipeline operators to decide whether to excavate a leak immediately or defer the repair of a small leak in the interim.

This helps operators with large-diameter pipelines in busy metropolitan areas because repair projects can be costly, disruptive, and sometimes unnecessary if the cost of the project outweighs the benefit of repairing the leak. With the location and size of the leak known, operators can create repair schedules and prioritize rehabilitation projects to avoid unnecessary service disruptions.

In February 2012, The City of Montreal conducted a leak detection survey using the Sahara® platform on a water transmission main in downtown Montreal that had known leaks.

The pipeline on Pine Avenue is an 80-year-old, 34-inch cage and cylinder Bonna-type pipe – a variation of Reinforced Concrete Cylinder Pipe (RCCP) – that had an unknown number of leaks that were unsuccessfully located using other non-intrusive techniques during previous inspections.

The Sahara leak detection inspection was extremely successful, locating nine leaks ranging from small to large size in the 1.3-kilometer (0.8 miles) survey. The City was expecting to find one major leak and possibly another minor one and was surprised at the number of leaks identified.

The Pine Avenue pipeline is a critical supply of potable water to the western portion of a major sector in the city, which made it important for the City to locate and repair the suspected leaks.

The City had been working with Pure Technologies in pipeline assessment program since 2007 that included electromagnetic (EM) inspection and acoustic monitoring, which prompted the decision to use Sahara leak detection on Pine Avenue.

The Sahara platform is a non-destructive tool equipped with acoustic leak detection and inline video that is pulled by the water flow by a small drag chute and used to locate leaks, gas pockets, and internal pipe conditions in live, pressurized pipelines. When the sensor is inserted into a tap, it remains tethered to the surface to allow for confirmation of suspected leaks. The sensor is also tracked along the surface, allowing for precise marking of leaks in real time.

Regular leak detection surveys can help utilities identify leaks that may not be visible at the surface and may have been leaking for a long time. By repairing leaks, it reduces Non-Revenue Water and can potentially prevent pipeline failures, as the presence of leaks is often a preliminary indication that a pipe will eventually fail.

In August 2012, the City excavated all nine leaks for repair. The leak locations had been precisely identified and marked on-site during the inspection and all leaks were found within 1-meter (3-feet) of the marked location. All of the leaks also had a size that corresponded with the estimates made by Sahara technology.

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Pipeline Inspection and Condition Assessment Services

Pipeline Leak Detection Systems

Highly accurate inline leak detection systems that can detect leaks and gas pockets in operational pipelines. These systems are used primarily on larger diameter water and wastewater transmission mains of all materials as well as oil & gas pipelines.

Sahara® - Leak & Gas Pocket Detection

Sahara® – Leak Detection for Water Trunk Mains

Leak and gas pocket detection using a tethered acoustic sensor allows for real-time results, and maximum control and sensitivity.

Abstract

Recently the industry has been emphasizing broken prestressing wires as a basis for the management of Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe (PCCP). The approach includes: evaluating broken wires, establishing a threshold level of broken wires for repair, and repairing only sections that exceed the threshold.

While evaluating wire breaks are an important part of PCCP management, it is important to acknowledge additional factors beyond wire breaks. By acknowledging additional condition factors, limitations of wire break assessment, and considering other rehabilitation approaches, there may be a more sustainable PCCP management approach (or combination of approaches). The approach may reduce risk and be more sustainable in terms of costs (current and future).

For some areas, the San Diego County Water Authority found the comprehensive rehabilitation approach, steel relining of PCCP, to be more sustainable in terms of costs. In addition, the approach significantly reduced the risk of a pipeline failure. However, in other areas, a localized, as-needed repair approach, such as Carbon Fiber, was more sustainable in terms of costs.

Authors

  • Nathan D. Faber, P.E., San Diego County Water Authority, Escondido, CA, USA.
  • Martin R. Coghill CEng MICE, Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., San Diego, CA, USA.
  • John J. Galleher, P.E., Pure Technologies, San Diego, CA, USA.

Maynilad Water Services, Inc. reported in the December 2012 of Malaya Business Insight that Non-Revenue Water (NRW) in its concession area has dropped to 42 percent as of last September. Six years ago, the company reported NRW as high as 66 percent due to leaks and pilferage.

After a P1.4 billion investment in modern leak detection technologies, including Sahara® Leak Detection by Pure Technologies, Maynilad has acheieved a huge reduction in their NRW. Maynilad said it is using varied and high-tech methodologies to detect leaks instead of digging up old pipes and replacing them.

The contract between Pure Technologies and Maynilad began in 2009 with training and rental of two Sahara® leak detection systems. This contract was part of a strategic water loss management program aimed at reducing non-revenue water in the metro Manila area. The initial contract has been extended three times as a result of Maynilad Water Services obtaining a highly beneficial return on their investment with a short payback period.

The use of Sahara leak detection has resulted in a number of key achievements for Maynilad. It has aided the elimination of illegal connections that contributed to NRW and have been a problem for Maynilad in the past. Illegal connections can also potentially damage pipe sections through unregulated excavation and tapping that compromises structural integrity.

The system has also been very effective in locating unknown features and laterals through the use of the inline CCTV. Once located, these laterals and features were closed, allowing Maynilad to achieve major reductions in its NRW.

In addition, many of the leaks found by Maynilad were buried deep underground and were not visible from the surface even when they were very large and presumably had been leaking for long periods of time. Beyond water loss savings, Maynilad was also able to use the leak detection and video system to map their complex pipeline network by locating known features with unknown locations. This has helped Maynilad achieve a better understanding of their pipeline network and will provide valuable information for future condition assessment projects.

From the start of the program to the end of 2011, 264 kilometres have been surveyed with 319 leaks located and 173 illegal connections and unknown laterals identified and shut down. The total volume of water saved to date has been in excess of 110 Million Litres per Day (MLD) which is the equivalent water demand by more than 300,000 people. Reducing NRW and boosting the network efficiency in this manner is a more cost-effective and environmentally sustainable approach than building new reservoirs and treatment plants.

 

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Pipeline Inspection and Condition Assessment Services

Pipeline Leak Detection Systems

Highly accurate inline leak detection systems that can detect leaks and gas pockets in operational pipelines. These systems are used primarily on larger diameter water and wastewater transmission mains of all materials as well as oil & gas pipelines.

Sahara® - Leak & Gas Pocket Detection

Sahara® – Leak Detection for Water Trunk Mains

Leak and gas pocket detection using a tethered acoustic sensor allows for real-time results, and maximum control and sensitivity.

Smartball- Leak and Gas Pocket Detention

SmartBall® – Leak Detection for Water Trunk Mains

SmartBall® is an innovative free-swimming inline leak detection technology designed to operate in a live water mains.

Non-Revenue Water (NRW) has been one of the biggest challenges for water utilities, with some seeing levels upwards of 50% across Asia. According to the Asian Development Bank this equates to around 29 million cubic meters of water lost in Asia each year at a value of $9 billion in revenue.

Another obstacle is the effective management of water services infrastructure and maximizing capital budgets. With pipelines reaching the end of their useful life, utilities must make difficult fiscal decisions regarding replacement and rehabilitation of their infrastructure.

K-water, the national bulk water utility in South Korea, controls everything from collection, treatment and pumping to maintenance, inspection and rehabilitation of the nation-wide pipeline system. The pipes in these critical bulk trunk mains are primarily large-diameter (greater than 2000 mm), and supply water to many of the smaller cities across Korea. Large cities, such as Incheon or Jeonju, are responsible for their own collection, treatment and distribution. In addition to supplying treated water to these small cities, many have contracted K-water to manage and maintain their distribution systems as they battle the challenges of ageing infrastructure.

K-water has done an exemplary job of maintaining its nation-wide pipeline system, which totals about 5000 kilometres, as well as helping smaller cities with their critical infrastructure management through individual contracts. While K-water’s critical trunk mains have a very low NRW, usually around 2%, many of its clients suffer from high levels of NRW as their pipeline infrastructure ages and begins to leak.

To address large-diameter leaks and ageing systems, K-water adopted a tethered system with acoustic leak detection and inline video – called Sahara® Leak Detection from Pure Technologies. While many utilities around the world use this tool for large-diameter leak detection, K-water instead chose to use it as a complete condition assessment tool to provide information on its pipelines and accurate location of leaks.

 

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Pipeline leak detection systems

Pipeline Leak Detection Systems

Highly accurate inline leak detection systems that can detect leaks and gas pockets in operational pipelines. These systems are used primarily on larger diameter water and wastewater transmission mains of all materials as well as oil & gas pipelines.

Sahara® - Leak & Gas Pocket Detection

Sahara® – Leak Detection for Water Trunk Mains

Leak and gas pocket detection using a tethered acoustic sensor allows for real-time results, and maximum control and sensitivity.

Smartball- Leak and Gas Pocket Detention

SmartBall® – Leak Detection for Water Trunk Mains

SmartBall® is an innovative free-swimming inline leak detection technology designed to operate in a live water mains.

Pure Technologies completed another successful year of its leak detection program with the City of Dallas and the Dallas Water Utilities (DWU) in July 2012.

This year, 16 leaks were found using Sahara® in just over 12 miles of inspection. The City and DWU are always efficient in repairing identified leaks, and since the conclusion of the 2012 inspection, have repaired about half of the leaks.

In 2004, DWU, which services 2.4 million customers in Dallas and nearby communities, began an ongoing proactive annual leak detection program using Sahara leak detection, though the DWU and Pure had been doing electromagnetic (EM) condition assessment since 2000. The leak detection program inspects pipes between 12-inches to 84-inches, and the transmission mains are made up mostly of Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe (PCCP), but also feature Cast Iron Pipe and Ductile Iron Pipe. To date, approximately 86-miles have been inspected using Sahara.

The decision to implement an ongoing program with Pure stemmed from an internal study conducted by the City of Dallas of their large-diameter leak detection. The study found that it needed new technologies to improve efficiency.

Large-diameter water transmission mains in Dallas have a higher potential of developing leaks in the summer. Due to the high heat and lack of precipitation, the ground becomes extremely dry and hard, this shifts buried pipeline infrastructure slightly which can cause leaks to develop and ultimately water mains to break.

Sahara has been extremely effective in detecting leaks for DWU. Since the program began, 116 leaks have been found in DWU’s large-diameter transmission main network. The estimated water savings from all of the leaks detected by Sahara and repaired by DWU, is about 7.2 million gallons per day. DWU has also seen a 17 percent reduction in catastrophic water main failures since the start of the program; increasing service reliability.

 

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Sahara® - Leak & Gas Pocket Detection

Sahara® – Leak Detection for Water Trunk Mains

Leak and gas pocket detection using a tethered acoustic sensor allows for real-time results, and maximum control and sensitivity.

Smartball- Leak and Gas Pocket Detention

SmartBall® – Leak Detection for Water Trunk Mains

SmartBall® is an innovative free-swimming in-line leak detection technology designed to operate in a live water mains.

Water scarcity issues are a major problem in many parts of the world affecting quality of life, the environment, industry, and the economies of developing nations. Touted as “the next oil,” water is the most precious resource on earth. We need it to drink, to grow food, sanitation as well as running various industrial needs such as power and manufacturing.

Yet even as precious as water resources are, there is a considerable shortage of water in the world. Causes of water scarcity vary from natural causes such as climate change and drought to human causes such as demand over stripping supply, population growth, water quality, and resource allocation.

Help overcome water scarcity with leak detection

For a prime example of how human factors contribute to water scarcity, we need not look any further than the state of the earth’s water distribution infrastructure. Most of the water infrastructure in the world was installed over a century ago when the earth supported a much smaller population and we didn’t have such a dependence on modern industrial comforts.

Leaks in Aging Pipeline Infrastructure

It is estimated that worldwide over 6 billion gallons of water is being lost every day through leaks in aging pipeline infrastructure. On average Pure inspections have shown 1.1 leaks per mile of large diameter pipe in North America and 2.2 leaks per mile in Europe, England, Middle East and Africa. The average volume of a leak is 40,000 gallons per day.

According to the US Geological Survey, in North America alone, there are over one million miles of water pipelines and aqueducts. As this water infrastructure continues to age and become over burdened by industry and population growth, the contribution to water scarcity also occurs.

Pure offers water pipeline owners the most accurate and trusted leak detection system which allows operators to become more proactive by systematically seeking and abating water leaks in their water distribution systems. By detecting and repairing leaks, utilities don’t only combat water scarcity but also increase efficiency, protect surrounding assets, and protect the environment.

Learn More

Pipeline leak detection systems

In-Line Leak Detection 

Non-destructive, in-line tools that can detect leaks and gas pockets in operational pipelines. These systems are used primarily on large-diameter water and pressurized wastewater mains of all materials as well as oil & gas pipelines.

Smartball- Leak and Gas Pocket Detention

Smartball- Leak and Gas Pocket Detention 

Leak and gas pocket detection services using a free-swimming acoustic sensor for “straight-shot” inspections.

Sahara® - Leak & Gas Pocket Detection

Sahara® – Leak & Gas Pocket Detection

For complex large diameter networks, Sahara® leak and gas pocket detection services uses a tethered acoustic sensor allows for real-time results, and maximum control and sensitivity.