Digging up and replacing sewer pipes is a messy, time-consuming and environmentally challenging undertaking. Trelleborg offers solutions that can make the process easier, less expensive and more environmentally friendly.
The old expression “out of sight, out of mind” applied for many years to municipal sewer systems. While local governments could see above-ground infrastructure issues that needed to be addressed, such as deteriorating roads and bridges, problems with crumbling sewer systems could not be seen and so were often ignored. That’s all been changing in recent years with the increased emphasis on water quality and water treatment issues.
Deteriorating sewer pipes lead to two major environmental issues. The first is that infiltration of ground water into pipes means increased water flow and a heavier workload for municipal treatment plants. In times of heavy storms, plants cannot handle the flow and raw sewage is often discharged into waterways, adding to local water pollution. The second issue is exfiltration, namely materials leaking out of sewer pipes into the groundwater supply, causing pollution. The scale of the problem is massive. In the United States, for example, the Environmental Protection Agency estimates there are about 600,000 miles of sewer pipe, of which 75 percent operate at less than 50 percent of capacity because of deterioration issues. Germany, as another example, has 500,000 kilometers (roughly 300,000 miles) of sewer pipe and an additional 1 million kilometers of lateral pipes – pipes that branch off from main sewer lines to individual housing units.
Replacing deteriorating pipe can be expensive and highly disruptive to the environment and the local economy. Trelleborg’s trenchless, no-dig pipe technology offers a less-polluting and lower overall cost alternative to complete pipe replacement. Trelleborg technology can be used to line pipes, essentially sealing them from the inside, and can be installed from manhole to manhole, meaning there’s no need to rip up streets, polluting the air and delaying traffic.
Overall costs can be significantly lowered by using trenchless technology. When the cost of replacing the road above a sewerage system is included, the cost of digging up and replacing a section of lateral sewer pipe could be 10,000 to 15,000 U.S. dollars. Lining a pipe instead, could result in cost savings of between 20 and 50 percent. Trelleborg has also tackled the issue of sealing lateral pipes from the street so there’s no need to go into property owners’ homes or to rip up their yards to replace pipes.
Trelleborg continues to work on its trenchless technology to adapt it for more markets. Places such as Singapore and Australia, for example, have sewer pipes that are smaller in diameter than those in the United States, Burke notes. Trelleborg has designed smaller installation equipment for such systems and is also working with materials that will allow lining pipes with multiple 90-degree bends and changes in internal diameter.