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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.

Video

SmartBall® Inline Free-Swimming Pipeline Inspection Platform

The SmartBall platform is a free-swimming inspection tool used to detect leaks and gas pockets and map pipeline networks. This platform assesses pressurized water and wastewater pipelines in a single deployment, without disrupting regular service. The SmartBall platform provides utilities with pipeline condition data to make informed rehabilitation and management decisions on a pipe-by-pipe basis.

Video

PureRobotics® Tethered Robotic Pipeline Condition Assessment Platform

The PureRobotics platform is a modular, multi-sensor condition assessment tool for depressurized water and wastewater pipelines. Using accurate electromagnetic and other sensor data paired with live video, this platform provides utility owners with comprehensive pipe wall condition data used to make rehabilitation and management decisions on a pipe-by-pipe basis.

Video

PipeDiver® Inline Free-Swimming Pipeline Condition Assessment Platform

The PipeDiver platform is a free-swimming pipeline condition assessment tool that is easy to deploy and operates while the pipeline remains in service. This tool provides utility owners with pipe wall condition data used to make rehabilitation and management decisions on a pipe-by-pipe basis.

Utilities can save their communities substantial amounts of money, reduce the need for unaffordable rate increases or financing arrangements, and improve the environmental sustainability of their operations – all while maintaining and enhancing system control.

Around the world, critical valves are in poor repair, or even inoperable. When critical valves fail, managers have effectively lost control of their system, increasing vulnerability to water main breaks or any other system hazard. Once valves have failed, utilities have traditionally sought to replace them, often at great cost, both in terms of time and expense.

But what if there were another way? It turns out there is a far more economical, less risky, and more sustainable option: preventative maintenance, repair, and rehabilitation. High performing utilities are turning away from the wasteful practice of replacing valves that can be restored to full function, instead engaging experts in asset renewal to extend the life of those assets at a substantially lower cost.

This white paper will highlight:

  • identifying the true cost of large valve replacements
  • understanding the cost savings of a repair vs replace strategy
  • the benefits of performing routine critical valve assessments
  • what to look for in a valve assessment partner

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

Case Study

In order to better understand the condition of their buried pipeline network and proactively address potential water loss issues, the city of Park City, Utah engaged Xylem in creating a condition assessment program utilizing acoustic and transient pressure monitoring.

While the Park City Municipal Corporation set a goal for Park City to become the “The Best Resort Town in America,” its relatively small Public Utilities Department is also gaining accolades for its forward-thinking approach to leak detection and to addressing water loss in a city which receives about half as much rainfall as the national average. The city chiefly relies on melting snow to recharge the groundwater system, and the next viable source is much more expensive. The city also realized that rapid residential and commercial developments near Park City are placing increased demands on groundwater resources — and as the population swells, more expensive water sources will have to be pursued.

THE CHALLENGE

Jason Christensen serves as Water Resources Manager for Park City, which has more than 120 miles of pipe in its distribution network. Many of the pipes are more than 60 years old and are covered in mineral soil that is corrosive in nature. By reviewing SCADA and Sensus AMI consumption data, as well as results from a previous leak detection survey, Christensen was aware of leaks in their system that attributed to a loss of 100 GPM.

Park City engaged Xylem to deploy their intelligent sensor hardware and monitoring solutions as part of a condition assessment program to understand their system and reduce non-revenue water. The project involved monitoring 6 pressure zones and reporting on anomalies such as leaks and bursts and identifying assets that are likely to fail through predictive analytics.

What solutions did Xylem and Park City come up with to solve this challenge? Find out and explore the results we achieved together by downloading the full case study below.

VIDEO CASE STUDY

Project Highlights

$50,000 reduction in operating costs

Deployed 20 stations capable of measuring pressure and acoustics

7 previously unknown leaks detected (water loss of 200 gallons per minute)

Program costs expected to be repaid in under 3 years from water savings alone

Project Details

Solutions
Acoustic leak monitoring
Transient pressure monitoring
Pipe Material
Steel (transmission main) Ductile Iron & PVC (distribution mains) HDPE (service lines)
Inspection Length
13 miles (4.8 km)
Diameter
1-in (25mm) to 12-in (300mm)
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.

Inspection required divers to retrieve PipeDiver tool from piping outlet located 40 feet beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

For the Township of Ocean Sewerage Authority, proper planning, quick thinking and late night tool modifications keep critical pipeline inspection on track and on schedule.

As every utility manager knows, a critical pipeline inspection can be temporarily derailed for unanticipated reasons. Especially when the assumed pipeline turns out to be composed of a completely different material, with a smaller than expected internal diameter, all of which could affect the condition assessment methods.

If you’re the manager under a time-critical deadline, you face pressure to resolve the issue and successfully move the inspection forward.

Fortunately, with proper planning, quick thinking and an experienced mobilization team in place, an unforeseen challenge like this can turn into an opportunity to gain a better understanding on the state of your linear assets.

Pipeline broken up into 4,000 foot and 2,000 sections by a drop manhole.

Project background

In November 2016, Pure Technologies (Pure) was contracted by Hazen and Sawyer (Hazen), consultant to the Township of Ocean Sewerage Authority (TOSA) in Oakhurst, New Jersey, to conduct a non-destructive evaluation of TOSA’s 36-inch diameter Ocean Outfall Pipeline constructed between 1966 and 1968. The pipeline was (supposedly) a 1.1 mile steel pipe that carries treated effluent to diffuser piping located 40 feet beneath the Atlantic Ocean.

TOSA had sought Hazen’s assistance in exploring ways to help them better understand the wall loss condition of their outfall pipeline in order to evaluate the need for repairs and or reconstruction options using the inspection data.

Prepping the PipeDiver tool for the electromagnetic inspection.

Understanding the pipe material determines inspection methods

In addition, the line is broken up into 4,000 foot and 2,000 foot sections by a drop manhole. According to profile assumptions, the Ocean Outfall Pipeline was thought to be steel. Understanding the pipe material is an important step in the selection and justification of condition assessment methods.

Based on the assumed steel material, Pure recommended the free-swimming PipeDiver® tool to deliver electromagnetic technology for the inspection method. The PipeDiver tool is equipped with Pure’s proven electromagnetic technology, which can be used on metallic pipe materials such as steel and ductile iron to detect cylinder corrosion. Electromagnetic sensors also provide the location and an estimate of the area and depth affected.

“This assessment using the latest in-pipe inspection technology, provided TOSA significant value in cost savings and avoided unnecessary public disruption, all while providing a better understanding of their infrastructure for the long-term management of their ocean outfall. With this understanding comes peace of mind in knowing that the most economical and effective in-kind replacement will be implemented to ensure long-term reliability of this vital asset.” William S. Gettings, P.E., MBA, BCEE, Senior Associate and NJ Office Manager Hazen and Sawyer

Two models of the free-swimming PipeDiver tool were assembled to inspect the various pipe materials, one for steel, the other for PCCP.

As a precaution, two models of PipeDiver tool assembled

Different PipeDiver tools are used for assessment of different pipe material. The optimized 24-detector PipeDiver tool uses electromagnetic technology to locate and identify steel pipes that have indications of wall loss, while the 6-detector PipeDiver tool is designed to identify PCCP pipes that have indications of broken wire wraps, the leading indicator of problematic pipe.

While it was known that the 2,000-foot (Section A) was made of steel pipe, there was no definitive information on the 4,000-foot (Section B) of pipeline material. In response, two models of the PipeDiver tool (a 24-detector tool for steel and a six-detector tool for PCCP were brought on site, assembled and balanced).

The metallic PipeDiver was run through Section B, where data determined that the section was not steel pipe, but rather PCCP, with a small section of cast iron pipe.

That was good call.

Getting the PipeDiver tool ready for the first insertion.

Sections of pipeline 3 inches smaller than anticipated

During the planning stage, it was thought that the pipeline had a 36-inch internal diameter. However, it became apparent after seeing some highly anomalous data sets from the 24-detector PipeDiver tool that the internal diameter was at least 3 inches smaller, which was confirmed at both the inlet and outlet by direct measurement using onsite divers.

This necessitated some late night heroics from Pure’s analysis group, research and development and on-site staff to modify the neutrally buoyant tool to fit into the smaller pipeline.

From here, the inspections went off without a hitch.

In the end, multiple PipeDiver runs were performed over the five-day inspection. On Section A of the steel pipeline, three pipes displayed anomalies indicating wall loss from 30 percent to 50 percent. One pipe contained a single location of wall loss, while two pipes had multiple locations of wall loss.

Analysis of the PCCP data obtained during the inspection determined that one pipe section in Section B displayed an electromagnetic anomaly consistent with five broken wire wraps, and one anomalous signal shift that could be caused by an undocumented feature or a change in pipe property.

A beautiful way to end a successful inspection.

TOSA has a better understanding of their linear assets

Pure worked closely with Hazen and TNJ Marine, Inc. throughout the inspection.  It was recommended that a portion of Section A undergo replacement due to pipe sections with anomalous electromagnetic signals, apparent pipe wall degradation and visible wall loss anomalies. In addition, where five wire breaks were found, it was recommended that a 16-foot length of 36-inch PCCP including plated access port within a sealed access manhole be replaced. Finally, it was recommended Section B undergo re-inspection within the next five years to monitor existing damage and re-evaluate the pipe section with anomalous signal.

All in all, a successful inspection despite the many challenges.

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

The mains assessed were constructed of steel in the 1960s

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

First step: gathering condition assessment data.

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

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

24-Detector PipeDiver tool

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

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

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

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

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

Challenges included nighttime work with traffic control and rain.

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

Project challenges included non-existent lay sheets. 

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

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

Testing the PipeDiver through a butterfly valve

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

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

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

Damaged pipe

Pipe damaged from suspected backhoe bucket teeth during previous excavation.

Two pipes excavated to validate inspection results.

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

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

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

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

Excavated pipe

Two pipes were excavated to validate results.

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

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

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

 

 

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

In early 2015, Pure Technologies (Pure) conducted a condition assessment of Pipeline No. 1 owned and operated by The City of Tacoma (Tacoma Water), as part of their proactive asset management program. Pipeline No. 1 is a critical link in Tacoma’s transmission system, conveying up to 72 MGD of potable water over a 26-mile stretch to the McMillin Reservoir. Tacoma Water provides water service to more than 300,000 residents throughout Pierce and King Counties in Washington.

While the critical pipeline has had previous condition assessment and repairs on targeted sections, the goal of the latest survey was to provide Tacoma Water with detailed assessment information to determine future repair, rehabilitation and re-inspection strategies.

Project Details

Services
PureEM™ manned electromagnetic inspection

Handheld ultrasonic thickness testing

Structural engineering analysis using 3-dimensional nonlinear finite element analysis (FEA)

Remaining useful life projections using Monte Carlo simulation

Timing
48 Hours
Pipe Material
Welded Steel
Inspection Length
917 feet (279 meters)
Diameter
48-52 inches
Transmission Type
Water

Project Highlights

Survey covered 917 feet and spanned 125 pipes

12 pipes identified with electromagnetic anomalies

Defects identified ranged from 15 to 35 percent wall loss

Inspection deployed 48-detector electromagnetic tool

Challenge

By the end of 2013, Tacoma had repaired approximately 15 leaks at 3 locations along the section of Pipeline No. 1 located near Boise Creek. In order to investigate this section of pipeline further, Tacoma decided to excavate the pipe in select locations to observe the condition of the pipeline.

Several areas with minor pitting were identified during the investigation. Due to the critical nature of this pipeline, Tacoma decided to take further action on the main and considered a replacement project.  However, before proceeding, Tacoma wanted to validate the need to replace this section of pipe.

As a result, a comprehensive condition assessment of the main was performed to confirm its condition before initiating an expensive and disruptive replacement project. Owing to the criticality of the line, Pure had only 48 hours to conduct the non-destructive condition assessment, using its proprietary electromagnetic technology (PureEM™) on just over 900 feet of pipe.

Solution

Assessing the condition of metallic pipelines is a challenging task best performed using a combination of assessment methodologies, engineering science and experiential judgment. Pure’s PureEM electromagnetic tool was used to evaluate the condition of the pipe wall and identify localized areas of wall loss. The significance of the results were evaluated through structural engineering, and long-term recommendations were made based on statistical modeling and remaining useful life projections.

As the pipeline could only be taken out of service for 48 hours, this required careful planning and extensive tool preparation. The PureEM tool was inserted through an existing manhole access and assembled in the pipe. During the inspection, technicians gathered electromagnetic data, numbered the pipe, and took detailed notes on the internal visual condition of the pipe. UT thickness measurements were also collected on the pipe in several areas.

A pre-inspection calibration of the PureEM tool allowed for more precise quantification of the defect identified through the EM inspection. This involved destructive testing on an above-ground 52-inch welded steel pipe of similar vintage to calibrate the EM signal changes for this particular type of pipe.

Following the inspections, Pure’s structural engineers used finite element modeling to evaluate the significance of the defect identified. Finally, a Monte-Carlo simulation was employed to estimate the pipe’s remaining useful life.

Results

Analysis of the electromagnetic data obtained during the inspection determined that of the 125 pipes surveyed, 12 pipes had electromagnetic anomalies consistent with wall loss ranging from 15 percent to 35 percent.

The results of the structural analysis indicate that the internal stresses in the subject pipeline are very low compared to the structural capacity of the pipe. None of the detected anomalies are at or near a point of concern, and the pipeline can be operated without immediate rehabilitation.

With the remaining useful life estimated at the pipeline operating without significant risk of structural failure in the next 30 to 50 years, Tacoma Water now has data-driven confidence in the short and long-term management of Pipeline No. 1.

As a result of Pure’s Assess and Address® approach, the City of Tacoma avoided near-term replacement of the main, which was estimated between US$2 to 3 million.

Quote

“With the remaining useful life estimated at the pipeline operating without significant risk of structural failure in the next 30 to 50 years, Tacoma Water now has data-driven confidence in the short and long-term management of Pipeline No. 1.  As a result of Pure’s Assess and Address® approach, the City of Tacoma avoided near-term replacement of the main, which was estimated between US$2 to 3 million.”

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

The Foothill Municipal Water District (FMWD) serves approximately 86,000 people through its member agencies located in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, bordered between the City of Pasadena and the City of Glendale. In March 2013, Pure Technologies (Pure) successfully completed in La Canada Flintridge, a 2.2-mile internal inspection and condition assessment of a 24-inch mortar-lined steel force main to identify broad areas of wall loss.

Project Details

Services
PureRobotics™ electromagnetic condition assessment inspection

PureRobotics HD-CCTV inspection

Structural assessment

Engineering services

Risk prioritization

Timing
2013
Pipe Material
Mortar-lined Steel
Inspection Length
2.2 miles (3.55 km)
Diameter
24-inch (610-mm)
Transmission Type
Water

Project Highlights

EM data identified 17 anomalies warranting further investigation

FMWD selected 2 locations to perform test pitting

Results revealed minimal wall loss and continued operation of water main

Challenge

For utilities like FMWD, which has no redundancy in its system, finding a reliable inspection method that provides condition data for the entire length of a steel pipeline is an important aspect of its condition assessment program.

As well, as part of the condition assessment, a structural evaluation was performed to determine whether the force main design satisfies AWWA M11 “Steel Pipe – A Guide for Design and Installation, fourth edition” standards. The results of this evaluation has helped FMWD determine where to focus more detailed inspections in order to make detailed rehabilitation decisions for this force main.

Solution

To complete the inspection, FMWD used PureRobotics electromagnetic condition assessment equipped with electromagnetic technology and high-definition closed circuit television (HD-CCTV). The platform is a non-destructive, in-line assessment tool that provides screening level wall thickness data in the circumferential and axial directions of metallic pipelines.

The robotics tool used was assembled inside the pipeline and controlled remotely by operators on ground level. This allowed FMWD to maximize the HD-CCTV function as internal features could be closely inspected with the camera. By opting for an inline assessment in favor of traditional metallic inspection methods, FMWD has a baseline condition of the entire 2.2-mile water main.

Results

After reviewing the electromagnetic data, Pure Technologies was able to identify 17 electromagnetic anomalies that warrant additional investigation. Using the resulting information, the top 10 anomalies were ranked based on the strength, area and repeatability of signal loss and visually using HD-CCTV.

FMWD selected two locations to perform test pitting to obtain higher resolution data needed to evaluate rehabilitation or repair needs and determine the remaining useful life of the water main.

Results of the two test pits revealed minimal wall loss and resulted in the continued operation of the steel water main with no rehabilitation required. Ranking the anomalies based on size allowed the prioritization of further inspection based on sound and defensible engineering judgment.

Risk prioritization is an important facet of any condition assessment program because it allows the most urgent needs to be addressed first. By proactively managing its pipeline assets, FMWD is able to continue to deliver quality water to its member agencies in a cost-efficient manner to meet their projected demands.

Case Study

Evides Watercompany was open to exploring new ways to reduce risks and extend the service life of their buried infrastructure. In particular, Evides wanted to assess the condition of its TL2.60 pipeline, a cement-lined 800mm (31.5 inch) steel pipe, with 2.8 kilometers (1.7 miles) of the inspected pipeline running along an important highway connecting Rotterdam to The Hague.

To assist in the condition assessment, Evides elected to deploy the 24-sensor PipeDiver®, an innovative tool from Pure Technologies designed to assess and address large-diameter metallic pipelines.

Project Details

Services
SmartBall® leak detection

PipeDiver® condition assessment

Timing
2016
Pipe Material
Steel
Inspection Length
2.84 km (1.7 miles)
Diameter
800mm (31.5-inch)
Transmission Type
Water

Project Highlights

 

Four (4)
pipes identified with anomalies

60% wall loss
on one pipe section identified by EM data

Zero (0)
leaks detected

 

HD-CTTV identified
estimated savings due to inspection: 1.1M Euros

 

Challenge
Prior to inspection, Evides created a series of predetermined defects made on a specific pipe segment in a research environment. The objective was to validate the tool against a range of known defects in a pipe with the same characteristics as the pipe inspected. During this process, all defects within the stated sensitivity were detected by the 24D PipeDiver tool at the precise location, providing confidence for the upcoming live inspection.

PipeDiver is a flexible, free-swimming condition assessment tool for pressurized water and wastewater pipelines. The video-equipped tool is ideal for critical pipelines that cannot be removed from service due to a lack of redundancy or operational constraints.

Solution
While PipeDiver has traditionally been deployed on prestressed concrete pipe to identify and locate broken prestressing wire wraps, the 24-detector PipeDiver has been specifically developed for metallic pipelines. For the Evides inspection, the PipeDiver tool with 24 electromagnetic sensors was used to locate and identify steel pipes with anomalies associated with corrosion or reduced wall thickness.

This Evides inspection marked the first condition assessment of metallic pipe using the 24D PipeDiver in Europe, an exercise that confirmed the validity of the tool’s sensor technology and validate once more the effectiveness of the platform to inspect pipelines.

The insertions went off without a hitch, and the PipeDiver sailed through the pipeline obstacle course with ease, gathering EM data along the route.

Results
Of the approximately 237 pipe sections inspected during the real inspection, four pipes were identified with anomalies indicative of cylinder wall loss, ranging between 30 percent and 60 percent. The wall loss defects ranged from 10.8 to 37.7 cubic centimeters (0.64 to 2.30 cubic inches).

After the inspection, three out of the four locations were dug-up to verify the reported defects, using non-destructive ultrasonic techniques. On each of the locations, the defects were found, and the actual material loss was in the range of the reported material loss.

Overall, the results proved the worth of PipeDiver as an advanced condition assessment tool able to deliver precise, actionable data on metallic pipes. The exercise showed the PipeDiver tool as a cost-effective solution versus methods that have operational constraints or require a shutdown or dewatering, or in this case, taken out of service. Evides estimated capital savings of 1.1M Euros as a result of the inspection and repairs.

Quote

“PipeDiver proved to be a suitable tool for one of our most important inspection needs: Corrosion of cement-lined steel pipes. We are especially glad the tool was able to pass a butterfly valve, and to be inserted and extracted through 600mm manholes, as this greatly improves operability and cost effectiveness.”

–Bart Bergmans, Project Manager, Infrastructure Asset Management, Evides Watercompany

Case Study

Metropolitana Milanese (MM) manages the integrated water services for the City of Milan, which has more than 2,295 kilometers (1,430 miles) of pipeline in their network.  MM identified a critical transmission main as a priority for inspection, and proactively assessed a nine kilometer section using the SmartBall inline leak detection tool.  The Assiana Linate Transmission Main was selected as a high value main due to its location in the heart of Milan. A rupture would prove to be costly and disruptive to the city, and Metropolitana Milanese had no prior condition information on the main’s integrity.

Project Details

Services
SmartBall® Inline Leak Detection
Timing
2015
Pipe Material
Steel
Inspection Length
9 kilometers (5.5 miles)
Diameter
1200mm (48-inch)
Transmission Type
Water

Project Highlights

23
leaks in 9km identified by SmartBall® inspection

Inspection identified high concentration of leaks in specific zones

Program costs expected to be repaid in 3 years from water savings

Challenge

Assessing the condition of buried infrastructure can be challenging and difficult to predict. Traditional belief dictates the condition of the pipe is directly associated with its age, however extensive field work shows this is not always the case. One-hundred year old pipes can be dug up in like-new condition, and newer pipes can show extensive damage due to operational, environmental, and installation factors. While the Assiano Linate Transmission main, a 1200mm steel transmission main situated in the heart of Milan, was installed in 1982 and therefore is not particularly old, its important nature to the network made it a priority for assessment. Reducing Non-Revenue Water (NRW) is a major concern for municipalities and a proactive approach to pipeline inspection is critical to managing investments.

Solution

Metropolitana Milanese proactively assessed a nine kilometer section of the Assiano Linate Transmission main using the SmartBall leak detection tool. This technology was chosen to allow the transmission main to remain in operation during the inspection, a critical requirement due to the networks served by the main.

The tool is a free-flowing leak detection platform that operates while the pipeline remains in service. It is capable of completing long inspections in a single deployment and is equipped with an acoustic sensor that identifies acoustic anomalies associated with leaks and air pockets. The acoustic signature is then analyzed to determine if it is a leak, air pocket, or an external noise.

Identifying leaks small or large contributes to maintaining the condition of a transmission main. In metallic pipe materials, a catastrophic failure is often preceded by a period of leakage, so identifying and repairing leaks can help to reduce water main failures, as well as reduce Non-Revenue Water loss not detected in water balances.

Results

The SmartBall inspection identified 23 large leaks within 9 kilometers of pipeline inspected. One area of high leak concentration detected 8 leaks in a short 240 meter section. Although Metropolitana Milanese chose a low resolution tool for their assessment program, the concentrated location of the leaks resulted in an accurate condition assessment by finding the weak link in the transmission main.

While many leaks were detected during the inspection, because the overall flow of the main is high, the leakage was undetectable with traditional metering equipment. However, the potential savings from the leak detection program are significant enough to have a positive impact on the city’s Non-Revenue Water Program, and its finances.  Although the production cost of water is relatively low, the expected savings in water loss from repairing the leaks will pay back the costs of the project in approximately three years, including the cost of repair to the damaged section.

Furthermore, the results indicated that limited portions of the main have damage while most of the pipeline appears to be in relatively good condition. This gives a targeted area for repairs without the need to dig up large sections of the pipeline – a costly and time-consuming process.

By determining the specific locations of leaks on the Assiano Linate Transmission Main, Metropolitana Milanese will be able to reduce its NRW and has gained a better understanding of the overall condition of the pipeline. This will aid in future capital planning and will also provide a valuable study into determining the external factors that might be causing the leakage.

Focused repair works for the leaks will allow the utility to extend the life of the pipeline and reduce water loss, thus improving the overall service to its customers. The final data from the inspection will be presented in an innovative asset management overview to Metropolitana Milanese.

Quote

“SmartBall has been a cost-effective solution to assess the condition of a very critical pipe in our network without causing any negative impact in our daily operations.”

–Metropolitana Milanese

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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Case Study

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

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

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

Project Details

Services
SmartBall® leak and gas pocket detection
PipeDiver® electromagnetic inspection
Transient pressure monitoring
Risk of failure evaluation
Timing
2015
Pipe Material
Ductile Iron, Steel, Reinforced Concrete
Inspection Length
3.05 kilometers (1.9 miles)
Diameter
450mm to 600mm (18 inch to 24 inch)
Transmission Type
Wastewater

Project Highlights

 

3.05 kms cumulative distance of survey

 

1 acoustic anomaly associated with transient gas (SmartBall inspection)

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

 

Zero leaks detected

 

Challenge

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

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

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

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

Solution

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

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

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

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

Results

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

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

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

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

Since 2007, utilities all over the world have been using the SmartBall® pipeline inspection platform to save millions of dollars in water loss and to fix leaks before they turn into larger problems.


Developed by Pure Technologies (Pure), the tool is trusted by utilities for two main reasons. One is for condition assessment purposes, and the other is for reducing non-revenue water. From a condition assessment perspective, SmartBall® is a proactive tool that can be used as part of a larger holistic approach to help identify problem areas that require repairs before they turn into bigger issues, and also to help utilities prioritize capital spending.

SmartBall inside a pipe.

Detect and locate acoustic sounds related to leaks and gas pockets

The primary purpose of the SmartBall tool is to detect and locate the acoustic sounds related to leaks and gas pockets.

“Unlike traditional correlators, the SmartBall sensors travel inline along the pipe, inspecting every inch of the water main to detect potential problems such as leaks and gas pockets. Based on thousands of miles of experience, the SmartBall tool has found three to four times more leaks than trunk main correlators, which are traditionally used in smaller diameter pipes, and are less effective for transmission mains and larger diameter pipes.”

Cam White

Business Line Manager, SmartBall

Deployed for long runs in one inspection for water and wastewater pipelines

What makes the SmartBall tool so remarkable is its ability to get into and out of pipelines very easily, and to be deployed for long runs in one inspection for both water and wastewater pipelines. The tool requires only two access points – one for insertion and one for extraction.

For insertion, the foam-shelled SmartBall tool is placed into a claw, compressed, and then lowered into the line through a 4-inch (100mm) or larger tap, all while the line is pressurized. Throughout the survey, Pure’s inspection team constantly monitors the SmartBall’s position as it traverses the pipeline collecting data.

  • An acoustic sensor listens for leaks and gas pockets.
  • An accelerometer and gyroscope measure the SmartBall’s movement, which can later be used for pipeline mapping.
  • A magnetometer measures the magnetic field coming off the pipe wall, data that can be used to find joints and other pipeline features.
SmartBall extraction process

Multiple insertion and extraction options available

There are many alternative options available to get the SmartBall in and out of a pipeline. Having multiple options reduces the money and effort required by utilities to support the inspection.

Once the inspection is complete, the data is extracted from the ball and sent to Pure’s data analysts where they will identify leaks and gas pockets.

As utility owners know, it can be expensive to excavate, and what SmartBall tool does is provide information that’s accurate, so clients can dig up the pipeline and find the leak the first time.

Rideau Canal, Ottawa

For the City of Ottawa, the SmartBall tool is used to locate “leak-where-predicted”

The “leak-where-predicted” scenario recently happened with the City of Ottawa when Pure deployed its SmartBall inspection platform to locate leaks and pockets of trapped gas along a critical transmission main, as part of a long-term condition assessment program for the municipality.

The Baseline Road Water Transmission Main is a high priority 1220mm (48-inch) diameter pipeline comprised of lined cylinder pipe (LCP).

For the City of Ottawa project, five (5) surface-mounted acoustic sensors were placed along the pipeline to track the SmartBall tool during the inspection. The SmartBall device was inserted into the pipeline through a 100mm drain near a hospital. Acoustic and sensor data was collected and recorded as the SmartBall tool traversed the pipeline for more than three kilometers.

From the survey results, Pure detected one (1) acoustic anomaly characteristic of a leak and zero (0) anomalies consistent with pockets of trapped gas.

The “leak-where-predicted” scenario recently happened with the City of Ottawa when Pure deployed its SmartBall inspection platform to locate leaks and pockets of trapped gas along a critical transmission main, as part of a long-term condition assessment program for the municipality.

The Baseline Road Water Transmission Main is a high priority 1220mm (48-inch) diameter pipeline comprised of lined cylinder pipe (LCP).

For the City of Ottawa project, five (5) surface-mounted acoustic sensors were placed along the pipeline to track the SmartBall tool during the inspection. The SmartBall device was inserted into the pipeline through a 100mm drain near a hospital. Acoustic and sensor data was collected and recorded as the SmartBall tool traversed the pipeline for more than three kilometers.

From the survey results, Pure detected one (1) acoustic anomaly characteristic of a leak and zero (0) anomalies consistent with pockets of trapped gas.

SmartBall inside a pipe and working zone map

Ground microphones fail, SmartBall tool succeeds

Although Pure was confident in the SmartBall leak detection data, sometimes it’s worth a try to verify an anomaly with a complimentary technology. In this instance, ground microphones, regarded as a conventional a leak detection tool, were deployed to try and detect leak sounds. Although the suspect area was marked, neither Pure nor the client could pick up leak-related sounds from the ground microphone.

Even though the leak was not picked up by the ground microphone, Pure was confident that the acoustic signature from the SmartBall was caused by a leak, based on more than 15 years of experience identifying leaks. That confidence and experience proved right, and when the suspected area was excavated, the leak was located within a meter of where the data analyst calculated the leak to be.

The results gave the City of Ottawa actionable data regarding the condition of their pipeline, and the City was able to fix the leak reducing non-revenue water loss and any potentially costly damage caused by the leak. It’s a great example of a proactive utility taking efforts to improve the reliability of its services.

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.

Big City Landscape View

Rand Water is the largest bulk water utility in Africa and one of the largest in the world, providing bulk potable water to more than 23 million people in Gauteng, parts of Mpumalanga, the Free State and North West – an area that stretches over 31,000 square kilometres. Rand Water’s distribution network includes over 3,300 kilometres of large-diameter pipelines.

In 2015 Rand Water embarked on the largest proactive bulk water pipeline condition assessment  investigation ever in South Africa. An important part of the assessment includes inline non-disruptive leak detection inspections covering just over 2,200 kilometers of Rand Water’s bulk pipeline network.

SmartBall in a case with the laptop used to control it.

SmartBall leak detection platform used for most inspections

The free-swimming SmartBall™ leak detection system is utilized to perform the majority of these inspections. The multi-sensor tool is used to detect and locate the acoustic signature related to leaks and gas pockets in pressurized pipelines. While the SmartBall is deployed, the pipeline remains in service, limiting disruption to customers.

Unlike traditional listening tools like correlators, which have limited success on large diameter pipes, the free-flowing SmartBall technology provides a high degree of accuracy, since as the ball rolls, it can inspect every inch of the main to detect leaks and gas pockets.

Big pipes

High pressure, high flow pipelines can make insertion and extraction difficult

Due to the vast transfer distances and varying topography within the supply area, the Rand Water system is characterized by pipelines operating under extreme pressures (higher than 16 bar [232 psi] and up to 40 bar [580 psi]) and high flow velocities (higher than 2 m/s), historically beyond safe operating limits of the standard SmartBall insertion and extraction equipment.

This rendered some of the pipelines unsuitable for inspection unless a solution could be found to safely insert and extract SmartBall from a high pressure/high flow pipeline.

Worker inspecting pipe

Pure works with SSIS PIpeline Services to help solve this unique challenge

Pure Technologies embraces research and development (R&D), with a strong design focus on continuously developing new inspection technologies and improve existing systems. SSIS Pipeline Services, which represents Pure Technologies in SA, challenged the Pure R&D team to find a solution for this unique high pressure Rand Water problem.

From this challenge, the Titan system was born.

Introducing Titan insertion and extraction system

Following extensive R&D and pre-delivery testing, the first-of-its-kind enlarged Titan insertion and extraction system was delivered to South Africa in May 2016. The system included a retrofitted high pressure LDEN (Large Diameter Extraction Net) kit capable for use in pressure environments up to 40 bar (600 PSI) and higher.

Workers with high pressure pipes

SSIS staff underwent shop training at the hands of one of the mechanical design engineers from Pure, followed by hands-on training on a number of high pressure, high velocity Rand Water pipelines.

To date, the Titan system has been used safely and successfully on pipelines up to 2900mm in diameter, operating at 2.5 m/s and at pressures up to 18 bar (261 psi). The system’s highest recorded operating pressure was at 23 bar (333 psi) on a 900mm diameter pipeline with 1.5 m/s flow.

Testing the waters, pushing the limits

The Titan system now enables SSIS to safely perform SmartBall leak and gas pocket inspections on high pressure pipelines previously off limits.

The latest successful test illustrates the SSIS commitment to the local water industry through innovation and dedicated support from Pure Technologies. It again proves that no problem is too big to solve, and every challenge can be overcome through dedicated teamwork and cutting-edge innovation.

Massive pressured water leak

According to AWWA’s 2016 Benchmarking Survey, the average water and wastewater utility has seven breaks per 100 miles of piping every year. Tip-top systems experience just four breaks in that distance, while those at the bottom have 18.

While it’s interesting to note the difference in break rates, it’s unfair to compare one utility to another, as a multitude of factors come into play as to why pipelines can deteriorate to state of failure. Countless sources of stress both inside and outside a pipe related to geographical location, soil-pipe type interactions, age, and construction are among factors that can take their toll on the pipe’s condition.

Worker inspecting pipe

For utilities, the one constant across the spectrum is the acknowledgment that simply replacing pipeline assets is cost prohibitive, and that advanced condition assessment services like those provided by Pure Technologies (Pure) can help utilities confidently make informed decisions that significantly reduce capital and operating costs.

Single-episode blowouts garner all the attention

While single-episode blowouts are quite rare, these tend to garner most media attention, and cause the most obvious blowbacks to the pipeline operator. What the public doesn’t usually notice are the pinhole leaks, hairline cracks, corrosion and leaking gaskets that tend to occur first.

Most catastrophic failures are caused by a sudden unexpected stress such as a water hammer acting on an existing weak point in the pipe. There is a widely held belief that the failure process is a simple one, where a pipe corrodes to the point at which it can no longer withstand the applied internal and external forces, resulting in a main break. However, research has shown that the failure process is more complex than expected.

Corrosion plays a significant role in water main failures, but soil-pipe interactions, manufacturing techniques and human error are also important factors. Failures also take place in multiple stages rather than in a single episode. Early damage not only weakens portions of the pipe, it also allows water to escape, causing corrosion and washing out of the supporting soil.

Broken water pipe on a street

Age alone does not indicate high-risk pipes

Pipes at highest risk are typically constructed using dated materials or methods, running through an area with heavy vehicle traffic. Urban centers typically represent significant loss potential from damage caused by water main breaks as a result of high-density buildings, underground infrastructure, important traffic thoroughfares, and economic loss potential of power, gas, water utilities and legal cases.

The net result is that age alone cannot be relied on as an indicator of a high-risk pipe.

Broken pipe

Types of pipe material and typical cause of failure

Prestressed concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP) has a unique failure mechanism: high strength steel pre-stressing wires that provide strength to the pipe can become distressed and reduce the structural integrity of the pipe. Broken wires can be caused by physical damage to the pipe, corrosion, or hydrogen embrittlement.

Areas of broken wires may be accompanied by leaks, especially in pipelines smaller than 48 inches in diameter, where the internal steel cylinder corrodes at the same rate as the wires or where water escaping through the joint encourages corrosion. Leakage has been proven to be a key indicator of structural condition in lined cylinder pipe, a type of PCCP in which the prestressing wires are placed directly on the steel cylinder. These types of leaks can create voids around the pipe and introduce added stress at an existing weak point.

Cast iron pipes corrode, become brittle and are prone to cracking. Many older North American cities have cast iron pipes that were installed in the 1800s, prior to the existence of pipeline standards, when methods of construction were non-uniform and advanced quality control programs did not exist. Consequently, many pipelines were installed using what are considered poor construction practices by today’s standards.

Ductile iron pipes have failure mechanisms similar to those of cast iron pipes; however they become less brittle and consequently degrade at a slower rate. These pipes may be capable of supporting large leaks for longer periods of time without failing immediately.

Plastic and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes are less prone to corrosion and less brittle than iron pipes. Failures in these pipes are often traced to leaking joints where the escaping water creates voids around the pipeline, causing unplanned stresses on the pipe.

Steel pipes primarily fail due to loss of integrity at welds, and external corrosion causing severe pitting and weakening the pipe wall. Both losses of joint integrity and through-wall corrosion pits lead to leakage long before failure. Older steel pipes in aggressive environments are capable of sustaining massive levels of leakage for decades before failing.

Workers digging with mechanical shovel

Making ongoing condition assessment part of proactive asset management

While pipe material and typical pipe stresses are factors that can contribute to a state of pipe failure, it remains impossible to compare one pipeline to another, and to make generalized statements about remaining service life, especially based on age and depreciation. Instead, it pays to conduct ongoing condition assessment, and then to use that risk-driven asset data collection to reduce the likelihood of replacing pipe that can safely and effectively serve communities for several more years.

It was a perfect day for an inspection.

Under a crisp blue sky, in the polders along a major motorway near Rotterdam, more than 40 water professionals from The Netherlands, Australia and the UK gathered to witness a unique project undertaken by the water utility Evides Watercompany.

The purpose of the project was to showcase the 24-sensor PipeDiver®, an innovative tool from Pure Technologies designed to assess and address large-diameter metallic pipelines.

As the second-largest water utility in the Netherlands, Evides was open to exploring new ways to reduce risks and extend the service life of their buried infrastructure.

Workers looking up

“Our first reaction is positive. PipeDiver proved to be a suitable tool for one of our most important inspection needs: corrosion of cement lined steel pipes. We are especially glad the tool was able to pass a butterfly valve, and to be inserted and extracted through 600mm manholes, as this greatly improves operability and cost effectiveness. Bart Bergmans

Project Manager, Infrastructure Asset Management, Evides Watercompany.

Inspected large-diameter steel pipeline runs along critical highway

The Evides TL2.60 pipeline is a cement-lined 800mm (31.5 inch) steel pipe, with 2.8 kilometers (1.7 miles) of the inspected pipeline running along an important highway connecting Rotterdam to The Hague. The transmission pipeline was selected for its criticality and some operational challenges that Evides wanted to address, including the presence of an inline butterfly valve that precluded other inspection tools from performing at this trial.

Prior to inspection, Evides created a series of predetermined defects made on a specific pipe segment in a research environment. The objective was to validate the tool against a range of known defects in a pipe with the same characteristics as the pipe inspected. During this process, all defects within the stated sensitivity were detected by PipeDiver at the precise location, providing confidence for the upcoming live inspection.

PipeDiver insertion

24-detector PipeDiver launches with eager anticipation and high expectation

All eyes were on the launch of Pure’s 24D PipeDiver tool, scheduled for the first of three identical runs, designed for data redundancy.

PipeDiver is a flexible, free-swimming condition assessment tool for pressurized water and wastewater pipelines. The video-equipped tool is ideal for critical pipelines that cannot be removed from service due to lack of redundancy or operational constraints.

Unlike more restrictive assessment tools, PipeDiver is a neutrally buoyant tool that flows with the product and easily navigates through most butterfly valves, tees and bends in the pipeline, delivering electromagnetic (EM) data for a variety of pipe type and materials.

24D PipeDiver tool developed for locating corrosion on metallic pipe

While the PipeDiver tool has traditionally been deployed on prestressed concrete pipe to identify and locate broken prestressing wire wraps, the 24-detector PipeDiver has been specifically developed for metallic pipelines. For the Evides inspection, the PipeDiver tool with 24 electromagnetic sensors was used to locate and identify steel pipes with anomalies associated with corrosion or reduced wall thickness.

“This inspection and related validations have shown that PipeDiver is able to deliver results that allow for well-founded replacement decision making of large-diameter, cement coated, steel pipelines.”

PipeDiver working inside a pipe

High definition camera records passage for all invitees to watch

Because the inspection exercise had so many invited utilities invested in the outcome, Evides provided inline cameras parked at both the butterfly valve and extraction point to record in real-time the passage of the PipeDiver. Thanks to the cameras, the world could watch.

The insertions went off without a hitch, and the PipeDiver sailed through the pipeline obstacle course with ease, gathering EM data along the route.

Results support long-term asset management decisions

Of the approximately 237 pipe sections inspected during the real inspection, four pipes were identified with anomalies indicative of cylinder wall loss.

After the inspection, three out of the four locations were dug-up to verify the reported defects, using non-destructive ultrasonic techniques. On each of the locations, defects were found, and the actual material loss was in the range reported by Pure Technologies.

Overall, the results proved the worth of PipeDiver as an advanced condition assessment tool able to deliver precise, actionable data on metallic pipes. The exercise showed the PipeDiver tool as a cost-effective solution versus methods that have operational constraints or require a shutdown or dewatering, or in this case, taken out of service.

This Evides inspection marked the first condition assessment of metallic pipe using the 24D PipeDiver in Europe, an exercise that confirmed the efficacy of the tool’s sensor technology and validated once more the effectiveness of the platform to inspect pipelines.

Using pipeline condition assessment platform like the PipeDiver tool can help utilities like Evides to support long-term asset management decisions on their underground infrastructure. The water world couldn’t agree more.

Workers from 14 utilities learning about new technology

14 global utilities in attendance

The PipeDiver project offered the opportunity for 14 of the most forward utilities from around the world to share experiences and learn about innovative technologies used to assess and address large-diameter metallic pipelines. The utilities included:

  • From Australia: Yarra Valley Water, Seq Water, Unity Water, Gold Coast Water, Water Corporation, Sun Water, SA Water
  • From the United Kingdom: Severn Trent Water, Anglian Water, Welsh Water
  • From the Netherlands: Waternet, Vitens, WML, PWN, Evides Watercompany

24-Detector PipeDiver tool

Advanced PipeDiver tool developed for condition assessment of metallic pipes.

Pure Technologies (Pure) never says no to an engineering challenge. If a client has a particular pipeline assessment or monitoring challenge to overcome in order to make a rehabilitation decision, we’ll do whatever it takes to help our clients solve the problem.

Pure Technologies embraces research and development (R&D), with a strong dedication to continually develop new technologies and improve upon existing inspection systems. This attitude of taking a winning platform and making it better was demonstrated again with the introduction of the optimized PipeDiver, an advanced, multi-sensor tool developed specifically for the condition assessment of metallic pipes within pressurized pipe networks.

PipeDiver inspection tool operates while the pipeline remains in service

As a technology platform, PipeDiver is a versatile, free-swimming condition assessment tool that operates while the pipeline remains in service, often providing an easier and less costly alternative than inspection methods that require a shut-down or dewatering.

Two men working with a PipeDiver device

The PipeDiver platform is ideal for critical, large-diameter lines that cannot be removed from service due to operational constraints or lack of redundancy. The PipeDiver tool requires only a 12-inch access, and can be deployed on pipelines that range from 16 inches up to 120 inches.

The tool can be deployed, collect information on pipeline condition and extracted in a single mobilization.

As the PipeDiver platform can be equipped with a closed circuit television (CCTV) camera, the tool is able to record and deliver video images from the inside of the pipeline (quality depends on water clarity).

PipeDiver Cammera working

Tool able to navigate most butterfly valves, tees and pipeline bends

To begin an inspection, the tool is balanced to be neutrally bouyant and inserted into a pressurized or depressurized pipeline through a tap connection, or an existing access point. The tool travels with the product flow, and utililzes flexible petals to navigate butterfly valves, tees and bends in the pipeline.

Originally designed for use in pressurized concrete cylinder pipes (PCCP), the tool has specialized electromagnetic sensors (PureEM) to identify and locate broken prestressing wire wraps, (one of the main structural components and failure modes of a prestressed concrete pipe).

Historically, technologies available to assess the condition of metallic pipe have been full diameter tools (“Smart Pigs”) unable to traverse most water or wastewater pressure pipelines due to inline valve restrictions and limited access for insertion and retrevial of a full diameter tool. These challenges led Pure’s R&D to develop the specialized PipeDiver for metallic pipes, equipped with advanced electromagnetic technology to identify localized areas of wall loss.

The PipeDiver electromagnetic (EM) technology can also be used in bar wrap pipelines to identify broken bars and steel cylinder damage, the two main structural components bar wrap pipe.

PipeDiver device inside a pool of water

Utilities Kingston welcomes PipeDiver to assess its metallic pipeline

Since its introduction, the optimized PipeDiver platform has been deployed for various projects in Europe, Canada and the U.S.

This year Utilities Kingston agreed to pilot the new technology as part of a comprehensive condition assessment on its Dalton Avenue (North End) Pump Station Force Mains. The pipelines are both approximately 1,550 meters long and follow a parallel route for approximately 1 kilometer.

The older of the two force mains is 450 mm (18-inch) in diameter, constructed of ductile iron built in the late 1950s, and had failed several times over its lifetime. The newer of the two force mains is 600 mm (24-inch) in diameter, built from an unspecified concrete pipe from the early 1960s. As the pipe material specifics were still unknown at the time of the inspection, the Pure elected to conduct a PipeDiver run to accommodate both possible types of pipe material – assumed by all to be bar wrapped pipe (BWP) and prestressed concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP).

Force main defects can vary from one pipe material to another

During a forensics exercise on the 600 mm force main using earlier PipeDiver technology, it was revealed that the actual pipe material included 102 suspected metallic pipes, which were not identified as such in the original plan and profile drawings.

This included ductile ironsteel and unexpectedly, reinforced concrete pipe (RCP), which is not usually used in pressurized environments. Electromagnetic inspection of the RCP can only reveal anomalies on the circumferential cage and not the longitudinal bars.

Inserting the PipeDiver device through an inspection hole

Optimized PipeDiver tool deployed in wastewater

Pure deployed its optimized PipeDiver tool to conduct a quality analysis of the 450 mm pipe. The purpose of the inspection was to locate and identify steel and ductile iron pipes that have indications of wall loss.

This marked the first condition assessment of metallic pipe using the optimized PipeDiver in wastewater, an exercise that confirmed the validity of the tool’s sensor technology.

Results lead to actionable information regarding rehabilitation

Of the 650 pipes inspected with the PipeDiver tool, a total of 55 pipes in the 450 mm Dalton Avenue Pump Station Force Main had electromagnetic anomalies characteristic of localized wall loss.

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

PipeDrive device revision after the inspection has finished

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.

Amsterdam, Holland

Would you take on a new pipeline inspection challenge, even if you knew it would land you in hot water?

Recently Pure Technologies (Pure) was able to chalk up success by adding one more type of pipeline to its inspection resumé. In this instance it was a district heating pipeline owned and operated by Eneco, one of the largest producers and suppliers of natural gas, electricity and heat, serving more than two million business and residential customers in the Netherlands.

District heating make sustainable sense

The concept of heat pipelines makes a lot of environmental sense. Throughout northern Europe, many municipalities and power generators have built closed systems of vacuum-insulated pipelines that circulate hot water from power plants and incinerators, sometimes above 100°C, through radiators in houses, businesses and other structures. This is an efficient method of heating buildings, and boasts a 98 percent heat retention rate during transmission.

SmartBall with case and insertion tools

Pure performs SmartBall leak and gas pocket detection survey

Recently Eneco contracted Pure to perform a comprehensive SmartBall® leak and gas pocket detection survey of the Centrale Merwedekanaal to WOS District Heating System. This is a 500 mm steel pipeline within a 700 mm steel pipeline of which a vacuum is created in the annular space to insulate the hot water. The survey purpose was to locate leaks and pockets of trapped gas present in the pipeline at the time of inspection.

The subject pipeline, originally installed in 1985, was suspected of having a leak, owning to an observation of water present in the annular space. As mentioned, the heating system pipeline consists of an inner 500 mm steel pipeline and an outer 700 mm steel pipeline, with a vacuum maintained in-between. The lines, constructed both above ground and below ground, incorporate numerous 90 degree bends and u-shapes, to allow for expansion and contraction as the product temperature changes.

Tracking with a laptop connected to the SmartBall

During the project, Pure inspected approximately 2.6 kilometers of the pipeline, with the goal to locate the leak(s) causing the water loss.

For the survey, Pure proposed the SmartBall leak and gas pocket detection system, a free-swimming, acoustic-based technology that detects anomalous acoustic activity associated with leaks or gas pockets in pressurized pipelines.

While other leak detection techniques such as noise loggers and correlators may identify a single leak or gas pocket between each sensor, they cannot accurately locate the limits of an anomaly nor identify multiple anomalies. In this specific case, the use of noise loggers is hindered by isolation. The SmartBall tool travels directly past each acoustic anomaly of interest on the inner pipe and thus significant advantages are recognized.

Unique challenges to overcome

The standard procedure for tracking the SmartBall tool depends on positioning acoustic sensors on the outside of the inspected pipe and listening to the device as it passes.

Since the line is so well insulated from heat loss, it is also well insulated against sound transfer, which meant it unlikely for good tracking on any sensor mounted to the outer 700 mm pipe. Additionally, Eneco was understandably averse to compromising the integrity of the vacuum seal of the line, and therefore did not wish to expose the 500 mm pipe to mount sensors.

In the absence of external tracking means, other reference points in the data are critical for accurately locating anomalies within the pipeline.  SmartBall contains gyroscopes that can measure bends in the pipeline that it traverses, and as there were many aforementioned 90 degree bends, these were clearly seen in the data.  The bends in the Eneco pipeline made for great geospatial reference points and therefore allowed for locating anomalies with relatively high confidence.

Pipeline over the surface

SmartBall tool deployed to survey district heating pipeline

The acoustic data recorded by the SmartBall tool was analyzed and cross-referenced with the position data. From the data collected and analyzed, the SmartBall device detected five (5) possible weaknesses, which were clearly visible in the data. Zero (0) gas pockets were detected.

The results give Eneco actionable data regarding the condition of their pipeline, and despite challenges, the assessment is proving its worth. It’s a great example of a proactive utility taking efforts to maximize its capital expenditures.

Traditional methods of wastewater condition assessment focuses almost exclusively on the gravity system and valve
actuation, using tools such as smoke testing, CCTV, and zoom cameras. While effective on gravity mains and valves,
these methods are not applicable in force mains.

Inspecting force mains is more challenging due to lack of redundancy, lack of access points, cost, technology limitations, while the consequence of force main failures can be significant financially, environmentally and socially.

A successful wastewater asset management program uses a holistic approach which prioritizes the entire system, collects data through condition assessment and provides analyzed reports in order to develop a targeted, informed action plan for long-term sustainability of a collection sewer system.

Amsterdam, Holland

Would you take on a new pipeline inspection challenge, even if you knew it would land you in hot water?

Recently Pure Technologies (Pure) was able to chalk up success by adding one more type of pipeline to its inspection resumé. In this instance it was a district heating pipeline owned and operated by Eneco, one of the largest producers and suppliers of natural gas, electricity and heat, serving more than two million business and residential customers in the Netherlands.

District heating make sustainable sense

The concept of heat pipelines makes a lot of environmental sense. Throughout northern Europe, many municipalities and power generators have built closed systems of vacuum-insulated pipelines that circulate hot water from power plants and incinerators, sometimes above 100°C, through radiators in houses, businesses and other structures. This is an efficient method of heating buildings, and boasts a 98 percent heat retention rate during transmission.

SmartBall with case and insertion tools

Pure performs SmartBall leak and gas pocket detection survey

Recently Eneco contracted Pure to perform a comprehensive SmartBall® leak and gas pocket detection survey of the Centrale Merwedekanaal to WOS District Heating System. This is a 500 mm steel pipeline within a 700 mm steel pipeline of which a vacuum is created in the annular space to insulate the hot water. The survey purpose was to locate leaks and pockets of trapped gas present in the pipeline at the time of inspection.

The subject pipeline, originally installed in 1985, was suspected of having a leak, owning to an observation of water present in the annular space. As mentioned, the heating system pipeline consists of an inner 500 mm steel pipeline and an outer 700 mm steel pipeline, with a vacuum maintained in-between. The lines, constructed both above ground and below ground, incorporate numerous 90 degree bends and u-shapes, to allow for expansion and contraction as the product temperature changes.

Tracking with a laptop connected to the SmartBall

During the project, Pure inspected approximately 2.6 kilometers of the pipeline, with the goal to locate the leak(s) causing the water loss.

For the survey, Pure proposed the SmartBall leak and gas pocket detection system, a free-swimming, acoustic-based technology that detects anomalous acoustic activity associated with leaks or gas pockets in pressurized pipelines.

While other leak detection techniques such as noise loggers and correlators may identify a single leak or gas pocket between each sensor, they cannot accurately locate the limits of an anomaly nor identify multiple anomalies. In this specific case, the use of noise loggers is hindered by isolation. The SmartBall tool travels directly past each acoustic anomaly of interest on the inner pipe and thus significant advantages are recognized.

Unique challenges to overcome

The standard procedure for tracking the SmartBall tool depends on positioning acoustic sensors on the outside of the inspected pipe and listening to the device as it passes. Since the line is so well insulated from heat loss, it is also well insulated against sound transfer, which meant it unlikely for good tracking on any sensor mounted to the outer 700 mm pipe. Additionally, Eneco was understandably averse to compromising the integrity of the vacuum seal of the line, and therefore did not wish to expose the 500 mm pipe to mount sensors. In the absence of external tracking means, other reference points in the data are critical for accurately locating anomalies within the pipeline.  SmartBall contains gyroscopes that can measure bends in the pipeline that it traverses, and as there were many aforementioned 90 degree bends, these were clearly seen in the data.  The bends in the Eneco pipeline made for great geospatial reference points and therefore allowed for locating anomalies with relatively high confidence.

Pipeline over the surface

SmartBall tool deployed to survey district heating pipeline

The acoustic data recorded by the SmartBall tool was analyzed and cross-referenced with the position data. From the data collected and analyzed, the SmartBall device detected five (5) possible weaknesses, which were clearly visible in the data. Zero (0) gas pockets were detected. The results give Eneco actionable data regarding the condition of their pipeline, and despite challenges, the assessment is proving its worth. It’s a great example of a proactive utility taking efforts to maximize its capital expenditures.

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.

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.

This notion came to life in a North American survey conducted in 2014 and published online this year in The American Water Works Association Journal on current sustainable infrastructure practices among water and wastewater utilities.

Authored by associate professor Amy Landis, the survey found that of the 125 American utilities that responded, less than half “failed to implement some form of sustainability practice, which ranged from renewable energy to infrastructure repair to demand management. Of the respondents, only 18 percent of utilities reported publishing a sustainability policy or vision.”

Surprising results in spite of critical importance

The results are rather surprising, considering that sustainable water infrastructure is critical to providing the American public with clean and safe water. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives drinking water and wastewater infrastructure a “D” grade, which puts the infrastructure in “poor and at risk” with most of the assets approaching end of service life, some reaching the age of 100 years old or more.

For combined water and wastewater utilities, the most common selected metric to evaluate sustainability practice was “water consumption and/or water delivery efficiency” at 63 percent. Coming in second for sustainable infrastructure practice was “employ trenchless pipe repair and/or rehabilitation.”

Old main

Buried assets are approaching end of service life, some reaching the age of 100 years old or more.

Helping water utilities embrace sustainability

The good news is that it is easier today for public water utilities to move forward on the path to social, environmental, and economic sustainability. Modern inline technologies and precise data analysis tools certainly help the effort.

For more than a decade, Pure Technologies has played a key role in helping progressive utilities follow through with actions to promote sustainable practices for their water and wastewater infrastructure.

Sustainable practices include helping pipeline owners optimize capital and remaining useful life as they seek to more efficiently manage their assets.

As a trusted global leader specializing in the assessment, monitoring and management of pressurized pipelines, Pure has completed structural condition assessment on more than 8,000 miles of critical water mains. This has helped utilities avoid critical pipeline failures that can be expensive to remediate and damaging to their reputation. In addition, Pure has located more than 4,000 leaks on mains using inline leak detection. Through these activities, billions of gallons have water have been saved through repaired leaks and avoided pipe failures.

Pipe Surface Inspection

By understanding the operational conditions in their system, utilities can develop a defensible plan for managing their infrastructure.

Capital savings can be invested back into the system

The numbers continue to impress. Based on Pure’s condition assessment data, we have found that 96 percent of pipe sections do not have any deterioration at all and are in “like new” condition, while less than 1 percent of pipe sections require immediate repair. This is comforting information to utilities with aging pipelines still in operation, as is the case with the remarkable cast iron water main buried in 1831 beneath what is now Greenwich Village.

By identifying and repairing isolated sections that require intervention followed by a long-term management strategy, a utility can realize major capital program savings over replacement or large-scale rehabilitation. On average, a utility owner can proactively manage a pipeline for 5 to 15 percent of the capital replacement cost. The money saved can be invested to fix and sustain other parts of the system.

The U.S. EPA and ASCE estimate the funding costs associated with buried infrastructure ranges from more than $200 billion to 1 trillion over the next 25 years. The numbers are staggering. Pure Technologies is helping utilities manage their buried infrastructure through its Assess and Address™ approach to pipeline management, and as result, has saved clients hundreds of millions of dollars in replacement costs.

Public pressure to do the right thing

With drought, climate change and water conservation now part of the daily conversation, the pressure is on for public utilities to incorporate sustainable practices into their planning. It’s the right thing to do, from an economic, environment and social standpoint.

By having 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 utilities to develop a sustainable long-term strategy for managing their infrastructure well into the next century.

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

To protect a thriving economy, Californian water utilities require a reliable and predictable supply of clean water; any water lost through leaks not only threatens the ability to provide adequate service, but also represents the waste of a scarce resource.

In order to ensure reliable service delivery and reduce Non-Revenue Water (NRW) – which can be defined as water that is produced for consumption and lost before it reaches the customer – two Californian utilities completed leak detection surveys on their critical water transmission mains in December 2013, while a third utility assessed a force main with a suspected leak.

While reducing NRW can be challenging, one of the most effective methods in reduction is having a well-developed leak detection program for both small- and large-diameter water mains. For large-diameter pipes, the most effective method of identifying leaks is through the use of inline leak detection. This method brings the leak detection sensor directly to the source of the leak, which provides the highest level of accuracy.

Accurately locating and repairing leaks on large-diameter mains is the best way to reduce NRW through leak detection, as almost 50 percent of the water lost through leaks is through large-diameter assets. Identifying leaks also increases service reliability and reduces the likelihood of a pipeline failure, as the presence of leaks is often a preliminary indication of a failure location.

In December 2013, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) completed an inline leak detection survey on 8 miles of the 45-mile Second Los Angeles Aqueduct, which is made of 76-inch mortar-lined steel.

Identifying leaks on metallic pipe materials is particularly important for water utilities, since leakage is a main indicator that metallic pipes will eventually fail. LADWP’s inspection using SmartBall® leak detection confirmed that this section of the aqueduct is leak-free.

Although addressing NRW is a major priority for utilities, operators of wastewater force mains should also be concerned with leakage. Leaks or failures on wastewater pipelines can have a devastating effect on the environment and can lead to litigation and consent decrees. In addition, gas pockets in force mains are of significant concern as hydrogen sulfide gas within the wastewater can be converted to sulfuric acid by bacteria in the slime layer on the pipe wall, which may cause corrosion and eventual breakdown of the pipe’s exposed surface.

In order to conduct a leak and gas pocket screen on an 18-inch force main, the Vallejo Sanitation and Flood Control District completed a 1.3-mile survey using SmartBall technology. The inspection identified three acoustic anomalies that were associated with pockets of trapped gas.

Through the inline assessment of this force main, the District was able to identify areas of potential concern, which will focus resources and guide future investigations.

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.

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.

Across the United States, there are thousands of miles of water and wastewater pipes buried beneath communities. These pipes come in a variety of materials and sizes, but all provide necessary services to customers across the country.

In recent years, several industry studies have warned that a large majority of these assets are aging and reaching the end of their designed lifespan. Although this is true, it is often prudent for municipalities to manage their assets – especially their large-diameter pipelines – in favor of replacement.

Replacement is expensive – industry experts estimate that the costs could reach $1 trillion over the next three decades. But beyond this massive expense are the unassailable logistical challenges of replacing thousands of miles of pipe.

Fortunately for municipalities, some pipe materials that make up the nation’s infrastructure have well-developed assessment methods that allow operators to determine the location of deterioration so that pipes can be renewed. Pipe deterioration is often due to localized problems – such as soil, loading and operating conditions – meaning pipelines do not fail systematically across their entire length and can often be effectively managed.

Unfortunately for some municipalities that own large-diameter metallic pipe, like Padre Dam Municipal Water District (PDMWD), the technologies available for assessing its condition have only recently been developed.

In November 2012, PDMWD wanted to assess the condition of a 1.2-mile (2-kilometer) stretch of 20-inch (500-mm) mortar-lined steel pipeline that was thought to be in poor condition and may need replacement. Before committing to the large capital project, PDMWD completed a non-destructive inline assessment using Mini PipeDiver®, a free flowing tool that can determine the baseline condition of metallic pipes.

The tool is equipped with PureEM™ technology and can detect broad areas of corrosion on metallic pipelines. While its resolution is not as high as other metallic inspection platforms, such as Magnetic Flux Leakage which can identify very small defects, PureEM is capable of detecting areas of corrosion that could lead to near-term pipe failure. It is also able to assess long distances in a single deployment, making it ideal for pipelines that cannot be removed from service.

Pure Technologies staff calibrate the Mini PipeDiver tool prior to inspection.

Pure Technologies staff calibrate the Mini PipeDiver tool prior to inspection.

Staff extract the PipeDiver tool from the pipeline.

Staff extract the PipeDiver tool from the pipeline.

In total, the inspection identified six pipes with signals consistent with localized circumferential anomalies and 15 pipe sections showed signal shifts indicative of a pipe class change.

Starting in February 2013, PDMWD began validating the results of the inspection by excavating the six pipes with circumferential anomaly signals. All six anomalies were confirmed to have some level of defect including:

  • Unknown concrete encasement covering a 2-foot longitudinal weld at a pipe joint; this pipe was damaged and repaired during the installation phase without proper documentation
  • Damaged mortar lining and steel cylinder after the pipe was installed on a rock
  • Localized cylinder and wire mesh corrosion
  • Excessive wire wraps caused by a manufacturing defect

While the six anomalies represented different forms of damage, the information collected using PipeDiver was accurately verified and was very useful for PDMWD. In addition, the anomalies that indicate a pipe class shift provide the District with valuable information about their system that was previously unknown.

Based on the results of the condition assessment, PDMWD determined that a large replacement or renewal project was unnecessary and could be deferred. This allows the District to be confident in the condition of this pipeline while maintaining safe and reliable service for its end-users.

PipeDiver® – Free-Swimming Pipeline Inspection

Specifically designed for structural assessment of Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe (PCCP) lines that are live or can’t be taken out of service due to a lack of redundancy or operational constraints.

Managing Metallic Pipelines

Pure offers a number of leading edge technology options for assessing the condition of ferrous water and wastewater mains.

Ecuador coast picture

Providing reliable access to clean water is a challenge faced by many Ecuadorian utilities; pipeline ruptures, leaks and unplanned shutdowns are not only inconvenient, but also represent the loss of a critical resource. Beyond the challenge of providing clean water, utilities are also tasked with finding a reliable method to assess critical water pipelines for structural damage.

Unlike oil and gas pipelines – which are typically designed to allow for inspection – critical water transmission mains are often hard to access. Many water mains also lack redundancy, meaning they cannot be shut down for proper inspection.

The Scope of Interagua’s Program

In a comprehensive program starting in 2011, the authority of Guayaquil (operated by Interagua Ltd.) addressed the challenges surrounding their water service delivery by assessing their critical transmission mains. The proactive condition assessment program identified defects on Interagua’s large-diameter Steel and Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe (PCCP) transmission mains through the use of advanced inline inspection.

Specifically, the project included the prescreening of all pipelines using inline leak detection, structural condition assessment on PCCP pipelines using electromagnetic (EM) technology and internal close-circuit television (CCTV) and broadband electromagnetic assessment of steel pipelines. Through the program, Interagua ensured service reliability in the long run but also helped advance the technology available for assessing in-service steel pipelines.

Although ensuring service reliability was the primary reason Interagua began the program, there were several other factors that contributed to the need for assessment. In terms of external factors, the critical pipelines were set in aggressive soil, which threatened to deteriorate their condition. The pipelines are also under a variety of loads and operating pressures due to the growth of the city; this adds additional strain and can lead to structural damage.

Operationally, the pipelines have no redundancy and cannot be shut down for scheduled preventative maintenance. This made the pipelines high-risk because any disruption would interrupt service indefinitely. Also, because there is no redundancy, the pipelines had been in service for several years without interruption; finding a reliable inspection method for in-service pipelines was crucial for Interagua.

Broadband Electromagnetic inspection

Interagua and Pure completed Broadband Electromagnetic inspection on 5 kilometers of steel pipeline.

Staff prepare to insert the PipeDiver® tool

Staff prepare to insert the PipeDiver® tool to identify deterioration in Interagua’s PCCP.

Prescreening Using Inline Leak Detection

To begin assessing their critical pipelines, Interagua and Pure Technologies partnered in 2011. The scope of the project covered Interagua’s most critical pipelines that run through the north of the city. These mains are made of both steel and Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe (PCCP) in diameters of 2000-mm, 1800-mm, 1500-mm, 1250-mm and 1050-mm. Considering that the 2000-mm steel main is only 20 years old and has a cathodic protection, the project focused on the other pipe diameters.

In total, roughly 66 kilometers of pipeline was surveyed for leaks and air pockets, and a significant portion of this was also assessed for structural deterioration. The main objective of inspecting the pipelines was to identify the actual condition of the pipes, including the specific amount and location of distress. From the results, a rehabilitation, replacement and maintenance plan could be created to ensure long-term service reliability. The inspections also provided Interagua with actionable information about pipe condition that could not be attained through conventional engineering studies.

In order to locate leaks and air pockets on all 66 kilometers of the transmission mains, Interagua used SmartBall® technology, an acoustic free-flowing leak detection tool that operates while a pipeline remains in service. The primary goal of the survey was to identify critical leaks that could be prioritized for repair by Interagua.

Locating and repairing leaks helps to reduce non-revenue water (NRW) and preserve a scarce resource. However, repairing leaks early also increases pipeline reliability, since leaks are often a preliminary indication of a failure location, particularly in metallic pipe materials. Failures in metallic pipe are often preceded by a period of leakage, so identification of leaks on metallic pipelines has the added benefit of ensuring structural reliability and preventing costly pipe failures.

Through the use of inline leak detection, Interagua identified 44 total leaks and four air pockets in the 66 kilometers of inspection. Of these leaks, 16 were identified as small, 17 as medium-sized and 11 as large leaks. Of the identified leaks, 14 were located on the 1250-mm sections of steel pipe.

Identifying Structural Deterioration through Condition Assessment

To identify structural deterioration on its PCCP mains, Interagua used the PipeDiver® platform, a free-flowing electromagnetic (EM) condition assessment tool. The tool finds structural defects by identifying and locating wire breaks in PCCP; the presence of broken wires is the main indication that PCCP will eventually fail.

The tool is able to effectively determine the baseline condition of PCCP while the pipeline remains in service. The ability to inspect live pipelines was a major factor for Interagua, as many of their critical PCCP mains could not be taken out of service for maintenance or inspection.
In total, Interagua completed almost 10 kilometers of EM inspection on its 1500-mm and 1800-mm PCCP mains that run north of the city. The inspection identified 90 pipe sections with some level of distress out of a possible 1429 pipe sections; after thorough engineering analysis, it was determined that only nine pipe sections should be replaced.

Through the use of EM condition assessment, Interagua was able to determine that only 6 percent of its PCCP inventory had distress, while less than one percent required immediate action. This approach saved a huge amount of capital budget by avoiding unnecessary replacement and also restored pipeline reliability.

For its 1250-mm steel pipeline inventory, Intergua also completed robotic CCTV inspection and Broadband Electromagnetic (BEM) inspection to identify areas of concern. Inline CCTV provides information about internal pipe conditions, while BEM technology can determine the remaining wall thickness of steel pipe through outer coatings of up to 50-mm.

In total, 21 kilometers of steel pipe was assessed, including 5 kilometers of BEM inspection. The results showed that Interagua’s steel pipe inventory was in good overall condition and had sufficient remaining wall thickness. Through the use of inline leak detection, CCTV and BEM inspection, Interagua identified the baseline condition of its critical steel pipes, which helped in the development of a future maintenance and repair plan.

The Results

Interagua’s large-diameter pipeline management program was very successful and determined that the vast majority of its large-diameter assets did not need to be replaced. The approach of assessing the pipelines to locate specific, isolated problems prevented the costly replacement of pipe with significant remaining useful life.

In addition to successful results, the project has been instrumental in the development of a reliable condition assessment method for mortar-lined steel pipelines; based on the initial results, Interagua will continue to assess its steel pipelines using the most advanced condition assessment technologies available, including free-flowing condition assessment of steel pipelines, which was unavailable at the inception of the project.

By investing capital resources into a condition assessment program, Interagua has successfully extended the useful life of its system and restored asset value by repairing isolated pipe sections and determining that the majority of pipelines have no distress and have significant remaining useful life.

Learn More

Cast Iron Pipes

Managing Metallic Pipelines

Pure offers a number of leading edge technology options for assessing the condition of ferrous water and wastewater mains.

Assess & Address Pipeline Management Program

Assess & Address Pipeline Management Program

Pure Technologies is helping utilities manage their buried infrastructure through its Assess & Address which can often be implemented for only a fraction of the capital replacement cost.

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.

TRA Verification
To supply roughly 500,000 people from eight different municipalities with treated water, the Lake Huron Primary Water Supply System (LHPWSS) operates a major 1200-mm (48-inch) Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe (PCCP) transmission main that spans 47 kilometers (29 miles).

After four failures on ‘Pipeline A’ in 2012, 2010, 1988 and 1983, LHPWSS began taking a proactive approach in managing its most critical pipeline through a technology-driven management program. This includes regular inspection of the transmission main to identify specific pipe sections that have distress and are at risk of failure.
In addition to proactively managing its infrastructure, LHPWSS is also twinning the transmission main to provide redundancy in the event that Pipeline A needs to be shut down.

After a full inspection of Pipeline A in November 2012, LHPWSS assessed 6.5 kilometers (4 miles) of PCCP along the twinned ‘Pipeline B’ in December 2013 using the PipeDiver® platform. Pipeline B currently spans 28.5 kilometers (17.7 miles) and features both PCCP and Steel pipe.

The PipeDiver tool is an electromagnetic (EM) platform that operates while a pipeline remains in service. EM inspections of PCCP pipelines identify the quantity and location of broken wire wraps, which are the main structural component in PCCP. As these wraps begin to deteriorate and break, the pipe section becomes weaker and more likely to fail catastrophically.

Worker inside a pipe
Staff extracting the PipeDiver® tool

Pure’s staff extract the PipeDiver® tool from LHPWSS’s Pipeline B.

LHPWSS’s inspection of Pipeline B was also the first use of video on the PipeDiver platform. Through the video application, LHPWSS was able to see inside the pipe under live operating conditions. The use of video during inspection provides additional information to use in conjunction with the electromagnetic data.

While the full results of the Pipeline B inspection are not finalized, the inspection demonstrates LHPWSS’s commitment to preventing transmission main failures and providing reliable water service.

This approach has been effective for LHPWSS in the past, as the 2012 inspection of Pipeline A identified only 58 pipe sections with EM anomalies out of a possible 10,000 pipe sections. This represents a distress rate of only 0.6 percent – well below industry average. Of the identified anomalies, only seven pipe sections had a relatively high level of distress.

Of the pipes with relatively high distress, two were located within a twinned section and therefore had a lower consequence of failure. The remaining five pipes were located within 3.5 kilometers (2 miles) of each other and are in the same vicinity of failures that occurred in 2010 and 2012.

LHPWSS has since verified and replaced the three most distressed pipes from the five that didn’t have redundancy to mitigate the risk of another failure. Plans to replace the remaining two pipes are scheduled for 2014.

By identifying isolated problems on its major transmission main, LHPWSS is able to avoid completing expensive and challenging replacement projects while maintaining safe pipeline operation. This approach allows capital to be deferred to other projects and prevents the replacement of pipe sections with remaining useful life.

 

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Case Study

Case Study: Lake Huron Primary Water Supply System

In October 2013, LHPWSS and Pure Technologies used advanced non-destructive free-flowing technologies to inspect a critical transmission main for leaks, gas pockets and structural deterioration while the pipeline remained in service. The results were successfully validated in spring 2013.

Assess & Address Pipeline Management Program

Assess & Address Pipeline Management Program

Pure Technologies is helping utilities manage their buried infrastructure through its Assess & Address which can often be implemented for only a fraction of the capital replacement cost.

For utilities like Foothill Municipal Water District (FMWD), which has no redundancy in its system, finding a reliable inspection method that provides condition data for the entire length of a steel pipeline is an important aspect of its condition assessment program.

FMWD covers about 22 square miles in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, bordered between the City of Pasadena on the east and the City of Glendale on the south and west. The District serves approximately 86,000 people through its own member agencies.

In March 2013, FMWD successfully completed a 2.2-mile internal inspection and condition assessment of a 24-inch mortar-lined steel main to identify broad areas of wall loss. As part of the condition assessment, a structural evaluation was performed to determine whether the force main design satisfies AWWA M11 “Steel Pipe – A Guide for Design and Installation,” fourth edition standards. The results of this evaluation will help FMWD determine where to focus more detailed inspections in order to make detailed rehabilitation decisions for this force main.

To complete the inspection, FMWD used PureRobotics™ electromagnetic condition assessment equipped with PureEM™ technology and high-definition closed circuit television (HD-CCTV). The platform is a non-destructive, inline assessment tool that provides screening level wall data in the circumferential and axial directions of metallic pipelines.

By opting for an inline assessment in favor of traditional metallic inspection methods, FMWD has a baseline condition of the entire 2.2-mile main. After reviewing the EM data, FMWD was able to identify 17 EM anomalies that warrant additional investigation. The top 10 anomalies have been ranked based on the strength, area and repeatability of signal loss and visually using HD-CCTV. FMWD can now select the most appropriate locations to perform test pitting to obtain higher resolution data needed to evaluate rehabilitation or repair needs and determine the remaining useful life of the water main.

PureNET Overhead

FMWD inserts the PureRobotics tool for inspection.

Field Data Collection

During inspection, the tool remains tethered to the service and is controlled by an operator.

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PureRobotics™ – Pipeline Inspection

Robotic Pipeline Inspection

PureRobotics uses powerful modular robotic pipeline inspection systems that can be configured to inspect virtually any pipe application 12-inches (30.5 centimeters) and larger.

Assess & Address Pipeline Management Program

Assess & Address Pipeline Management Program

Pure Technologies is helping utilities manage their buried infrastructure through its Assess & Address which can often be implemented for only a fraction of the capital replacement cost.

Sewer access

Sewer Force Main Inspection

Pure Technologies has the complete portfolio for sewer force main and large diameter gravity main inspection. As the trusted global leader, we have successfully inspected thousands of miles of pipeline.

Each of the various pipe designs used in water networks across the United States has a specific life expectancy and operational requirements. Although some pipeline materials have well-developed, effective inspection technologies, assessing metallic water pipelines with mortar lining has historically posed a challenge for utilities, including the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC).

Without a reliable way to assess the condition of cement-mortar-lined pipelines, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission set out to develop its own technology.

The third-largest municipal utility in California, SFPUC operates and maintains a large, complex water-delivery system for 2.6 million people and businesses in San Francisco, Alameda, Santa Clara, and San Mateo counties. The gravity-fed system reliably delivers water across the state without using energy-intensive pumping. Eighty-five percent of this water comes from the Upper Tuolumne River Watershed in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, where it’s stored in the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir and then transported 47.5 miles via the San Joaquin Pipeline (SJPL) across California’s Central Valley to the Bay Area. The SJPL system includes three large-diameter pipelines (56–78 in.), generally consisting of cement–mortar-lined steel that have been operating for more than 80 years. The pipelines can deliver 300 mgd.

To minimize the number of unplanned outages and determine the remaining pipeline life, SFPUC sought a technology that could assess the wall thickness of steel pipelines. Unfortunately, no technology was available, so SFPUC funded research to develop such technology. The project focused on SJPL. Because capital improvement funds were limited, however, SFPUC officials knew they needed a technology that would do the job and allow the utility to efficiently administer SJPL rehabilitation funds, according to Margaret Hannaford with the Hetch Hetchy Water and Power Project (HHWP), SFPUC.

In the August issue of AWWA Opflow, read about how SFPUC developed Magnetic Flux Leakage technology for reliable assessment of mortar-lined steel water pipelines.

Read Full Article»

Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL)

Magnetic Flux Leakage (MFL)

Magnetic flux leakage (MFL) is an electromagnetic method of nondestructive testing that is used to detect corrosion, pitting and wall loss in lined and unlined metallic pipelines.

Case Study

Case Study: San Francisco Public Utilities Commission (SFPUC)

Without a reliable way to assess the condition of cement-mortar-lined pipelines, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission set out to develop its own technology. In a project from 2007 to 2010, SFPUC developed and used MFL technology to inspect its critical San Joaquin Pipeline.

An article published on New Zealand Infrastructure Online discusses Hutt City’s proactive management of critical infrastructure through the use of advanced non-destructive technologies.

Hutt City used PureEM™ to assess the condition of the Main Outfall Pipeline – a rubber ring jointed, non-cylinder prestressed pipe – and locate broken prestressing wires.

This pipeline is 18 kilometers long and takes treated wastewater from Seaview to Pencarrow for discharge into the Cook Strait. It serves the combined Lower Hutt and Upper Hutt population of 140,000.

Built in 1962, the pipeline is made up of more than 4000 sections of pipe and has an internal diameter of 1300-mm (51-inches). The cost replacement estimate for this pipeline is $60 million and would be very difficult to complete because there is no longer sufficient space in the narrow road that winds around the Eastern Bays of Wellington Harbour.

NZ Insertion
Inspection Tool

In favour of capital replacement, Hutt City opted to find and employ advanced technologies to assess the pipeline and address the most distressed areas. MWH Global was contracted by Hutt City Council to investigate the repair or renovation of the pipeline and seek resource consents for pipeline inspection.

Assessing the condition of the pipeline was a challenging task but one MWH identified as being best performed using a combination of non-destructive testing technology, internal visual inspection and engineering science and judgement. MWH contracted Aqua-Environmental (a Pure Technologies company) for the condition assessment.

Read Full Article »

New Zealand Infrastructure (NZI) provides stakeholders in the infrastructure industry with timely information, critical insights and detailed developments from within the country and around the globe that influence the planning, design and implementation of New Zealand infrastructure.

NZI focuses on the information needed to create and maintain world class cities and suburbs and develop energy, environmental, transport, water and communication infrastructure. The magazine details security and partner services – like investment, finance, legal, management, product provision and contractors that support and ensure the viability and sustainability of infrastructure projects. NZI works with major industry organisations and government agencies that are influential in setting and implementing the agenda for the country’s infrastructure development.

 

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Free-Swimming Pipeline Inspection

Electromagnetic Pipeline Inspection

Electromagnetic testing provides the best condition assessment data for large diameter PCCP (AWWA C301) and BWP (AWWA C303) pressure pipelines.

In order to proactively address water loss on its water transmission mains, Sweetwater Authority completed a SmartBall® leak detection survey in January 2013 on over 5 miles of a 36-inch steel water transmission main to locate leaks and gas pockets. The tool located two acoustic anomalies indicating small and medium sized leaks on the pipeline. No pockets of trapped gas were located.

The two locations were reviewed by Sweetwater Authority staff and it was determined that one of the leaks was located at an existing valve to an adjacent pipeline. This valve is used for isolation between the two pipelines so there was no water coming from the pipe into the surrounding environment. However, the other leak, which was the small leak, was validated through excavation by Sweetwater. It was quickly repaired and this critical pipeline was placed back into service.

The SmartBall platform is a non-destructive, free-swimming tool that measures the acoustic activity associated with leaks and gas pockets in pressurized pipelines. When acoustic anomalies are present, the data is analyzed to determine if it is a leak, gas pocket, or just an external sound. The tool is tracked using receivers that are mounted along the pipeline at strategic locations; Sweetwater and Pure tracked the tool successfully at all six receivers during this inspection.

Insertion Site
Extraction Site

Regular leak detection surveys can help utilities identify leaks that may not be visible at the surface. By repairing leaks utilities can reduce their Non-Revenue Water and prevent pipeline failures, as leaks are often a preliminary indication that a pipeline will eventually fail.

Location and elimination of gas pockets is also beneficial as it reduces pressure on pumps that are attempting to pump water past a gas pocket. As these pockets grow in size, they can significantly reduce the flow and capacity in a pipeline if they are not released.

In addition to reducing water loss in the pipeline, the leak detection survey will provide valuable condition data that could be used in future condition assessment projects.

 

Learn More

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.

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.

In June 2012, Pure Technologies (China) completed a SmartBall leak detection project in conjunction with Jalur Cahaya Sdn. Bhd. (JC) that helped address the Non-Revenue Water (NRW) problem in the state of Selangor, Malaysia, by locating several leaks in the water system.

The total inspection spanned about 5 kilometres (3 miles) on two water transmission mains, locating 11 total leaks. Pure inspected about 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) of the Kampung Sungai Kertas transmission main, made up of 300-millimetre (12-inch) asbestos cement and mild steel, and just over 3 kilometres (2 miles) of the Jalan Raja Musa main, a 700-millimetre (28-inch) mild steel pipeline.

SmartBall Access Point

JC is a water engineering services company that focuses on reducing NRW in Malaysia. The successful SmartBall project reaffirms their commitment to reducing NRW in Malaysia with continuous and effective leak detection projects.

The Kampung Sungai Kertas main inspection had 6 SmartBall Receiver locations to ensure quality tool tracking and accurate leak locations. The inspection identified 9 leaks in the system, 2 of which were large leaks. Since project completion, JC revealed to Pure that 2 of the 9 leaks were artificial and used to test the sensitivity of SmartBall. The Jalan Raja Musa main inspection used 5 SBR locations and was very successful, locating 2 small leaks in the system.

Immediately following the inspections, JC excavated and repaired all the leaks identified, and are very satisfied with the results of the verifications. Flow measurements before and after repairs were also carried out on the Kampung Sungai Kertas pipeline, showing the fixed leaks reduced leakage by 360,000 litres (95,000 gallons) per day.

 

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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.

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.

Introduction

Underground pipelines are among the most valuable, yet neglected, assets in the public arena. They provide essential services such as supply of energy and drinking water and collection of wastewater. But we install the cheapest we can, bury it and forget about it – at least until something goes wrong. Then we are faced with having to fix the problem under emergency conditions, often considering only immediate needs and not the future operation of the pipeline in question.

This infrastructure must be seen as an asset, and managed as such. Properly maintained the pipe networks are valuable assets that are critical to delivering services to customers, and in any business the means of connecting product or service to customers is a major link in the business value chain. Not to maintain this network is negligent bordering on criminal.

Pipeline operators from around the world are discovering that simply replacing their aging pipeline assets is cost prohibitive and that advanced condition assessment services from Pure can help them confidently make informed decisions that drastically reduce capital and operating costs.

There are many ways in which a pipeline can deteriorate to a state of failure; countless sources of stress both inside and outside the pipe can take their toll.

Single-step blowouts of pipe walls are quite rare; pinhole leaks, hairline cracks, corrosion and leaking gaskets tend to occur first. Most catastrophic failures are caused by a sudden unexpected stress such as a water hammer acting on an existing weak point in the pipe. There is a widely held belief that the failure process is a simple one, where a pipe corrodes to the point at which it can no longer withstand the applied internal and external forces, resulting in a main break. However, research has shown that the failure process is more complex than expected. Corrosion plays a significant role in water main failures, but soil-pipe interactions, manufacturing techniques and human error are also important factors. Failures also take place in multiple stages rather than in a single episode. Early damage not only weakens portions of the pipe, it also allows water to escape, causing corrosion and washing out of the supporting soil.

Pipes at highest risk are typically constructed using dated materials or methods, running through an area with heavily vehicle traffic. Urban centers typically represent significant loss potential from damage caused by water main breaks as a result of high density buildings, underground infrastructure, important traffic thoroughfares, and economic loss potential of power, gas, water utilities and legal cases.

Older pipes that face stresses such as heavy traffic, construction activity, pressure transients or advanced age are more likely to fail. However there are other factors at work such as installation or material defects that may surface over a shorter period of time. The net result is that age alone can not be relied on as an indicator of a high risk pipe.

Types of pipe material and typical causes of failure:

Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe (PCCP) has a unique failure mechanism: high strength steel pre-stressing wires that provide strength to the pipe can become distressed and reduce the structural integrity of the pipe. Broken wires can be caused by physical damage to the pipe, corrosion, or hydrogen embrittlement. Regions of broken wires may be accompanied by leaks, especially in pipelines smaller than 48 inches in diameter, where the internal steel cylinder corrodes at the same rate as the wires or where water escaping through the joint encourages corrosion. Leakage has been proven to be a key indicator of structural condition in lined cylinder pipe, a type of PCCP in which the prestressing wires are placed directly on the steel cylinder. These types of leaks can create voids around the pipe and introduce added stress at an existing weak point.

Corroded Wires, Embrittled Wires, Cylinder Perforation

Cast iron pipes corrode, become brittle and are prone to cracking. Many older North American cities have cast iron pipes that were installed in the 1800s, prior to the existence of pipeline standards, when methods of construction were not uniform and advanced quality control programs did not exist. Consequently, many pipelines were installed using what are considered poor construction practices by today’s standards.

Tuberculation, Bell Cracking, Longitudinal Cracking, Corrosion

Ductile iron pipes have failure mechanisms similar to those of cast iron pipes; however they become less brittle and consequently degrade at a slower rate. These pipes may be capable of supporting large leaks for longer periods of time without failing immediately.

Plastic and polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipes are less prone to corrosion and less brittle than iron pipes. Failures in these pipes are often traced to leaking joints where the escaping water creates voids around the pipeline, causing unplanned stresses on the pipe.

Leadite is a sulphur-based joint-sealing compound commonly used in the 1940s and 1950s that appears to produce pipe failures due to the difference between its coefficient of thermal expansion and that of the metal in the pipes it seals. Leadite in pipe joints expands at a different rate than the pipe itself, causing added stress near the joints. This undesirable behaviour has resulted in particularly destructive joint ruptures on otherwise strong iron pipes.

Steel pipes primarily fail due to loss of integrity at welds, and external corrosion causing severe pitting and weakening the pipe wall. Both losses of joint integrity and through-wall corrosion pits lead to leakage long before failure. Older steel pipes in aggressive environments are capable of sustaining massive levels of leakage for decades before failing.

Introduction

A significant percentage of the United States force mains have been in use for several decades and never been assessed or proactively managed. To safely rely on these pipelines, their condition should be periodically checked to ensure there are no locations susceptible to failure.

In addition, many wastewater agencies are faced with EPA consent decrees that require condition assessment of force mains. As a result, many agencies are now faced with the daunting task of assessing their sewer force mains—a task that until recently was often not feasible due to operational constraints. However, Pure Technologies continues to improve technology and can now obtain a realistic assessment of a force main within the common constraints of most wastewater agencies.

Authors

  • Michael S. Higgins, P.E.; Pure Technologies, Columbia, MD, USA.