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Trenchless techniques for installing new infrastructure and
rehabilitating existing underground assets provide many benefits
to councils, water authorities and communities. It is vital for
workers within the water industry to be across trenchless
methods and technologies in order to provide safer worksites
for contractors, to minimise social costs to communities, and to
reduce costs involved in capital works programs.
Trenchless technology is also often favoured in the water industry
for its ability to reduce network water loss through novel asset
management technologies. Available technologies aid asset
managers to obtain the best possible data on the state of pipes,
allowing for renewal of assets before failures and bursts.
It is the solution to many of the problems that Australia is facing
in the near term. With an economic slowdown at home and a
tight global credit market abroad, every dollar counts. Trenchless
technology is no longer an expensive alternative, but instead
offers many ways to do more with less.
A number of recent projects across the country have highlighted
the benefits that trenchless technology can offer councils, utilities
and their communities.
Going trenchless in the Sunshine State
Servicing 1687 square kilometres of the coastal city of Cairns,
the Cairns Regional Council (CRC) has been adopting trenchless
technology across several major projects.
With the Far North Queensland city flanking the Coral Sea to one
side and the Great Dividing Range on the other, the use of trenchless
technology to maintain the region’s underground infrastructure is
growing, says CRC Senior Project Manager Peter Thoren.
‘Currently, the council’s Water and Waste Infrastructure branch
is the primary user of trenchless technologies, which are being
implemented to install new gravity and rising sewer mains, as well
as water mains,’ says Thoren.
The Cairns region features a diverse range of infrastructure
assets that the CRC regularly maintains, including just over 580
kilometres of stormwater pipes, 176 kilometres of stormwater
open drain pipes, 2105 kilometres of water mains, and 1083
kilometres of wastewater mains.
Thoren says that major upgrades to Cairns sewer infrastructure
are currently underway to meet present and future demands,
including making way for an increased demand on drinking
water supplies – options for which are currently being
investigated and considered.
The council currently has a Core Asset Management Plan in place
that covers long-term planning for the underground assets. It
maps out the replacement requirements of assets, based on their
age and works identified in Council’s capital works program.
As part of the plan, the council has a 10-year capital works
program for installing, replacing and upgrading underground
assets, which has been formulated from both external and internal
investigations. The Council also undertakes a comprehensive
inspection and revaluation of the drainage assets every five years,
which involves physical inspections of the assets.
These programs allow for the CRC to generate plans for sewer
relining, manhole refurbishment, customer meter replacement, and
water main replacement programs annually.
The CRC’s application of trenchless methods across several major
infrastructure projects has predominantly used pipe bursting as
the primary trenchless technique.
The council has also applied directional drilling techniques in
order to use a steerable head to drive and align the pipe, in
addition to pipe jacking and the application of earth pressure
balance tunnelling machines. CRC’s current water and wastewater
infrastructure projects are all using at least one of these
Thoren says that the CRC’s selection of specific trenchless
techniques is dependent on each project, and that an external
consultant will provide advice on the technology selection.
‘With input from our design consultant, and access to a specialist
technological consultant external of the council, we’ve been able
to move away from trenched solutions,’ says Thoren.
‘We’re always open to new methods and ideas, and, at present,
we are gearing up for delivery of long directional drill projects
throughout the Cairns City area that will need to take into account
traffic, businesses and pedestrian access, and public safety;
however, the impact is going to be minimal compared to what we
would have been facing with a trenched project.’
THOREN SAYS THAT MAJOR
UPGRADES TO CAIRNS
ARE CURRENTLY UNDERWAY
TO MEET PRESENT AND
INCLUDING MAKING WAY
FOR AN INCREASED
DEMAND ON DRINKING
WATER SUPPLIES – OPTIONS
FOR WHICH ARE CURRENTLY
BEING INVESTIGATED AND
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