Carbon Fiber Liners Rescue Doomed Water Mains in Columbus, Ohio

The summer of 2011 was a tough one for the city of Columbus, Ohio. According to an online publication, “a key  48-inch transmission water main…was accidentally punctured [which led to] a heavy loss of water through a four-inch hole.”  Non-invasive trenchless repair methods helped the city avoid what could have been a disastrous shutdown in water services for the airport, a hospital, and most of the east side  of Columbus.

Technicians used a special leak detection device equipped with a video camera to do an internal video and leak detection inspection. They initially thought the damage was located above Big Walnut Creek, the area where the damaged water main ran. They were wrong: the hole was under the river.

The first problem was gaining access to the main and providing ventilation for the workers. The Columbus Division of Water and Power (DPU) “constructed two manways, one being located about 150 feet from section to be repaired.” Technicians then designed “a special rigging to insert into the pipe, allowing [crewmembers] to patch the hole and apply the carbon fiber lining.”

The actual carbon fiber wrap itself was “saturated with epoxy outside the pipe.” This saturated material was then “conveyed into the pipe on a spool and adhered to the pipes surface, covering about a 20-foot section. The entire operation took just two weeks and cost the city of Columbus $250,000. The estimated life expectancy of this lining is  about 50 years.

Accidents can happen. And they’re always harder to deal with when they affect infrastructure that serves large populations and important municipal services. But thanks to no dig technology and a little old-fashioned ingenuity, even most difficult problems can get resolved quickly and efficiently.  It’s the future-made-real today!

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