September 2020 Vol. 75 No. 9



Work Completed on World’s Longest Hydraulically Inserted Pipe

National Grid and its project partners Skanska and PORR Group have set a new record with the insertion of a 3-mile (5-km) natural gas pipeline into a tunnel under the River Humber.

Two hydraulic thrust machines were used to push eight 2,034-foot-long (620-meter) sections of pipe on rollers into the new tunnel. The pipes were methodically pushed at around 3 feet (1 meter) per minute into the tunnel, which had been flooded with 50,000 cubic meters of pure and treated water to aid the installation.

After one pipe section had been installed, the next was moved into position and welded to the one in front. The push continued until the full length of pipe was fully installed, becoming the world’s longest hydraulically inserted pipe. The entire process took about 17 days.

“Completing the installation of the pipeline under the Humber is a major milestone for both the project team and partners,” said Steve Ellison, senior project manager, Capital Delivery, for National Grid. “We will now begin work to connect the pipeline to the network, ready for gas to begin flowing towards the end of the year.

Chicago Plans to Replace Lead Water Pipes

Chicago water management officials say they are working on a plan to replace the lead service pipes that connect more than 350,000 homes to the city’s cast-iron street mains, but it is not clear how the massive program will be funded.

Water Management Commissioner Randy Conner estimated in August that it could cost upwards of $8 billion to replace all of the pipe. The city previously made homeowners foot the bill for replacement.

Chicago has more lead service lines than any other city in the country, officials say, because its plumbing code required the use of lead to connect homes to street mains until 1986, when the practice was banned by an act of Congress.

Last year, the city halted a program of installing residential water meters, because it discovered the process sometimes caused more lead to get into the water. Many Chicago residences have un-metered water service and are billed for estimated usage.

Chicago’s lead-pipe issues have been known for decades. The city tried applying chemical additives to its water supply to form a protective coating inside lead pipes, but a federal study in 2013 determined the coating breaks down under certain conditions.

Michigan Reaches $600 Million Settlement in Flint Water Crisis

The state of Michigan has agreed to pay $600 million to residents of Flint, who were harmed by lead-tainted water in a disaster that made the city a nationwide symbol of government mismanagement.

Nearly 80 percent will go to claimants who were minor children during the period covered by the deal, with the largest share — 64.5 percent — devoted to children who were ages 6 and under when first exposed to the contaminated water.

If approved, the settlement would push state spending on the Flint water crisis over $1 billion. Michigan already has pumped more than $400 million into replacing water pipes, purchasing filters and bottled water, children’s health care and other assistance.

Elevated levels of lead were detected in the blood of some children after Flint switched its water source from the city of Detroit to the Flint River in April 2014. That change was made to cut costs while Flint was under control of a state-appointed emergency manager during the administration of former Gov. Rick Snyder.

State environmental regulators advised that Flint, located about 70 miles (113 kilometers) north of Detroit, not to apply corrosion controls to the water, leading to contamination by lead that leached from aging pipes.

San Diego Approves Phase 1 of $3 Billion Water Project

Local regulators have approved Phase 1 of the $3 billion Pure Water San Diego Program, which seeks to locally supply a third of the City’s water supply by the end of 2035.

The first phase of the project includes a series of facilities and pipelines to clean recycled water to produce 30 million gallons per day of high-quality purified water, reducing the city’s dependence on imported water from Northern California and the Colorado River.

The purified water will blend with the city’s imported and local water sources and be re-treated at the Miramar Water Treatment Plant before distribution to the public.

Phase 1 projects include the Morena Pump Station and Pipelines, North City Water Reclamation Plant Expansion, North City Pure Water Facility, and North City Pure Water Pump Station and Pipeline.

The NPDES permit issued to the City is the first for a reservoir augmentation project in California and a major milestone for the Pure Water San Diego Program. Stantec and Brown and Caldwell are providing program management services to support the city with Phase 1.

“Water supply is perhaps the most critical issue that San Diego must continue to address given its semi-arid climate and reliance on imported supplies,” according to San Diego Public Utilities Department Assistant Director John Stufflebean.

DOE Announces $33 Million for Pipeline Retrofitting Research Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced $33 million in funding for 10 projects dedicated to developing technology to rehabilitate natural gas pipelines.

The funding is part of the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy’s (ARPA-E) Rapid Encapsulation of Pipelines Avoiding Intensive Replacement (REPAIR) program.

REPAIR teams will develop natural gas transmission pipeline retrofitting technology to rehabilitate existing cast iron and bare steel pipes by creating new, robust pipes inside of old ones.

“Natural gas is a crucial energy source for 75 million American households and businesses,” said ARPA-E Director Lane Genatowski. “REPAIR teams will develop technology that enables gas utilities to update their distribution systems at low cost and continue to reliably service commercial and residential gas delivery needs nationwide.”

The selected REPAIR teams are developing smart coatings, robotic systems to line the inside of pipes, inspection tools to verify the integrity of the pipes, and mapping tools to enable 3D renderings of pipes and adjacent underground infrastructure.

Legacy pipes make up only about 3 percent of distribution pipes in use but account for a disproportionate number of leaks.

Denver Facility to Use Wastewater Pipes to Generate Energy

Officials say sewer pipes carrying wastewater from a Colorado meeting complex will be used to generate clean power as part of the largest sewer heat recovery system in North America.

Officials overseeing the redevelopment of the National Western Center campus estimate the system will prevent the emission of 2,600 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere yearly by not burning fossil fuels, The Denver Post reported.

The project will use a pair of 72-inch (183-centimeter) sewer pipes carrying wastewater and human byproducts to a treatment facility north of downtown. The closed-loop system isolates the soiled, sewer-pipe water while using a heat pump to transfer the warmth to pipes filled with fresh water. The heated, clean water powers heating and cooling machinery in campus buildings, officials said.

Thousands in Brazil Evacuate Homes After Water Pipe Ruptures

About 2,000 people in northeastern Brazil were evacuated from their homes in August after a pipe in a water diversion project ruptured, damaging a dam and flooding the project’s power plant, authorities said.

Rogério Marinho, minister of regional development, said the residents were told to leave as a precaution after the concrete conduit broke open in the city of Jati, in Ceara state.

He said water shooting from the ruptured conduit damaged about 130 feet of a 460-foot wall of the dam holding the reservoir fed by the pipeline. Workers needed less than five hours to contain the spill, he said.

“The situation of the dam is absolutely fine and we have already started work to restore the structure’s wall,” Marinho said by telephone from the accident site. The evacuated residents were able to return home within 72 hours, he said.

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