June 2023 Vol. 78 No. 6


B&B Underground and Drilling tackles reclaimed water project

By Madison Devin 

(UI) — Clean water is a crucial resource that has received a lot more attention in recent years. While some parts of the United States have been dealing with severe droughts, increasing populations are testing water treatment plants in other regions. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Florida experienced a rise in population, prompting many communities to rethink their approach to delivering fresh water to citizens.

Leading the efforts to reimagine water services is the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. The organization is encouraging communities to expand their water service to incorporate reclaimed water systems for irrigation, industrial processes and other non-potable applications. In these ways, municipalities can reduce the demand for potable water and help conserve drinking-water resources. 

One example is Deland, Fla., in the Orlando area. Over the last several years, the city installed new reclaimed-water transmission mains to transport non-potable water from the Deland Water Reclamation Facility to various locations throughout the city. 

B&B Underground and Drilling Inc. is the local contractor working on the multiyear project. In the latest phase, the company was responsible for installing approximately 3,000 feet of 18-inch HDPE mainline pipe to support a newly constructed pump station.

Glenn (left) and Lee Bennett

Decades of expertise 

B&B Underground and Drilling was established in 2004 by brothers Glenn and Lee Bennett. Prior to that, Glenn was a horizontal directional drill (HDD) operator with experience dating back to the early ’90s on one of Florida’s first HDD projects. 

“Back then, drills didn’t have a seat, and there were no rod loaders or automatic grease buckets. The operator did it all,” said Glenn. 

Lee was a salesperson for the turf equipment industry at the time. The two started talking about building a business together. From there, the dream was born. The brothers’ first order of business was getting their own drill. Even though Glenn was already experienced working mid-size to maxi-rig drills, the two started small and invested in a used Vermeer D7x11. They got to work installing fiber, coax cable and electrical lines. 

“Our first major project was for the city of Maitland, Fla.,” Lee reclled. “We used the D7x11 drill to help underground a lot of residential power lines. We started small and saved, so we could someday get into larger-diameter work.” 

As utility owners noticed B&B Underground and Drilling’s diligence and professionalism, the size and scope of the projects they won grew. 

“The income we earned was reinvested in the business, leading us to buy our first brand-new rig, a Vermeer D24x40,” said Lee. “This machine helped us land more water installation projects. 

“At the time, we relied on prime contractors for power and phone work, but we started to advertise more and bid on water projects. As a result, we purchased a new D24x40 Series II. Later, we upgraded our smaller drill to a D20x22 Series II for smaller-diameter installation work. Eventually, we traded that machine for a D24x40 S3 as the bulk of our work shifted to larger-diameter utilities.” 

Their workload was rapidly increasing, so the brothers decided to invest in a D40x55 S3. This allowed them to perform longer shots and install larger-diameter water and sewer lines. By acquiring this machine, they were given more opportunities for mainline water and sewer projects. Consequently, they added a Vermeer D60x90 S3 to their fleet. 

Today, B&B Underground and Drilling operates four Vermeer utility drills, ranging from a D10x15 S3 HDD up to the D60x90 S3, and performs bores ranging from 1 to 30inches in diameter. To help with slurry management, the company uses Vermeer CS 1273 GT and CS 873 GT trailer vacs and a custom-built truck vac to support its three crews.

Deland reclaimed-water project 

In Deland, B&B Underground and Drilling was tasked with completing eight bores, from 370 feet to 600 feet, fusing HDPE pipe and pulling the product in place, where it would be tied in with an existing 12-inch line to the new pump station. 

The brothers used their D60x90 to complete the work because it could handle the distances they were boring and was efficient at opening the holes to the required diameters. The bores ranged between 10 and 15 feet deep. 

Two reamer passes were performed after the pilot bore, pre-reamed to 16 inches on the first pass and then stepping up to 22 inches while pulling the pipe into place. The team used a McElroy MegaMc 824 fusion machine to fuse the HDPE pipe. 

During the bore, B&B Underground and Drilling used a combination of bentonite and other drilling fluid additives to help maintain hole integrity in the area’s sandy soil conditions. Lee said working around Florida can be challenging because they have to regularly adjust their drilling fluid formula based on ground conditions throughout their working areas. 

“Most of it is sand, but there are parts of Florida where we have to deal with rock, too,” said Lee. “Whenever reaming is involved, we need to put a lot of thought into the strength and quality of the drilling fluid mixture. 

“It’s also important to use a drill that will help us minimize the number of reamer passes made. Anytime we don’t have pipe in the ground, there is potential for the hole to begin to close. So, when we ream, we don’t stop until the pipe is in the ground.” 

The Deland reclaimed-water project took the B&B Underground and Drilling team a little over a month to complete, and involved some narrow rights-of-way and sandy soils. 

Investing in personnel, tech 

“Building the business up to the level of doing bigger pipes had always been a goal of ours,” said Glenn Bennett. “However, achieving that goal takes time. It involves adding and training personnel, saving up, investing in all the equipment required to perform larger-diameter HDD work, and earning the trust of our customers. It all takes a lot of hard work and time.” 

While many HDD companies perform strictly small-diameter fiber work, those focused on larger water and sewer utility work are specialty companies. Building a team for the task can be more challenging, too. That’s why B&B Underground and Drilling emphasizes the importance of training. 

“We’ve been around long enough to know that untrained help is bad for business, hard on equipment and hurts the HDD industry,” said Lee. “We make sure our people are properly trained for the work they are going to be doing, and we often work with the people at Vermeer Southeast to support those efforts. They have helped us train equipment operators, locators and mud specialists.” 

Glenn added that with all the advances made in drilling technology since he started, having a good dealer partner that prioritizes training has helped him stay current on the latest technology. 

“More and more customers are asking for as-built information, so we recently started using bore planning tools. The dealer team has helped us work through the learning process. The support helps keep us at the top of our profession,” Glenn said. 

While much of the industry’s focus is on fiber, large-diameter work continues to be a worthy journey for Glenn and Lee. 

“There are so many communities expanding around the area, and new water and sewer services are needed to support the growing population. In addition, many municipalities keep a watchful eye on communities that are actively installing reclaimed water systems,” said Lee. 

“With so much attention on water usage, there will be a lot of work to come in this area as well. We are looking forward to doing our part on these projects.”


B&B Underground and Drilling, bbunderground.com 

Vermeer Corp., (888) 837-6337, vermeer.com 

McElroy Manufacturing, (918) 836-8611, mcelroy.com 

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