CEDAR CITY – Construction to fix a break in the pipeline that supplies water from the east to the west side of Cedar City began Wednesday and, thanks to cutting-edge technology, was finished by Thursday night.
The pipe that carries the water supply runs under Interstate 15 at the west end of 400 North. The waterline itself was built nearly 50 years ago, long before I-15 was built.
The location made the fix precarious for two reasons: The city was unable to gain permission to tear the interstate apart to get to the pipe; and, the project was incredibly expensive given the time and costs involved.
The Cedar City Council approved the $141,288 Insituform Technologies LLC bid in a Feb. 25 meeting after reviewing a series of bids presented by Cedar City Senior Engineer Jonathan Stathis the week before.
Stathis presented the council with two options: The first involved digging the existing pipe from where it was and replacing it completely; the second was to bypass the leak using the Insituform method of lining the pipe with a specially designed liner that would seal it off.
Though the fix presented its fair share of problems, council members confidently agreed to a resolution Feb. 25 by voting to give the job to the lowest bidder, Insituform; a method that would cost the city $31,165 less than the next lowest bidder.
If the liner works as well as anticipated, Cedar City Councilman Fred Rowley said, there could be potential for future work with Insituform.
“Instead of replacing the pipeline and digging up all of the dirt we can run this fiberglass resin liner into the pipe and strengthen it to the point that it’s actually stronger than it was before we started,” Rowley said. “It’s smoother and it makes the pipe slightly smaller in diameter, but because it’s smoother and there’s less friction it can carry even more water.”
The broken pipe was made out of cast iron, which makes it very brittle, Rowley said, but the new liner is expected to have a much longer life.
The Missouri based company that installs the liner has a plant in Cedar City that manufactures the vast majority of the liners used for this type of repair nationwide, Superintendent Kole Kottemeier said.
“Cured-in-place pipes have been around since the ’70s,” Kottemeier said. “They’ve been doing that for a while, but for a pressure pipe application, it’s fairly new. They’ve been doing it maybe about seven or eight years.”
The technology was developed to help with hard to fix places like the pipeline that runs under the Interstate, or railroad tracks where excavation could be a potential nightmare, he said. So far, they have seen tremendous success with the method.
Instead of digging up the road above the pipe, a large access hole was dug on either side of the highway where the waterline is and the pipe was exposed. The liner was loaded into a machine that pressurized the three-layer material with water that was used to force the liner out of the machine and slowly into the mouth of the exposed pipe.
The liner is made out of a layer of a felt type of material that encases a fiberglass material, Kottemeier said. The final layer is another felt type of material that is injected with an epoxy resin that will eventually harden to form the inside of the pipe. The material is soft and squishy and it feels similar to an ice pack that has begun to soften.
It was important to keep the liner cold and covered in ice while it was waiting to be inserted into the pipe so that it would maintain its malleability. When the pressurizing machine begins to export the liner, hot water is used to accelerate the hardening and cementation of the liner.
The liner is completely safe to use to carry drinking water, Kottemeier said.
“That’s why they use an epoxy based resin,” he said. “They’ve got other liners they use for other applications, but this has a specific NSF approved resin in it for drinking water.”
The entire project was wrapped up in less than 48 hours from beginning to end.
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