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When faced with the challenge of repairing a critical 900mm water main near Newcastle, NSW, Hunter Water had two options: proceed with a traditional dig and repair method which would significantly disrupt a busy arterial road, or find a new solution.

As a utility providing drinking water, wastewater, recycled water and some stormwater services to a population of almost 600,000 people in the Lower Hunter region of NSW, Hunter Water is increasingly looking for new, more innovative ways to service its customers.

For Hunter Water it was a clear choice – innovation over impact. In the case of the 900mm water main, the section needing repair was located under a busy thoroughfare, which presented a significant obstacle.

Instead of choosing a traditional dig and repair method, it proceeded with a trenchless ‘triple line’ solution using Primus Line technology.

The project, which involved installing three flexible liners into the pipeline, was a first of its kind for the Australian water industry, having previously only been implemented in Europe.

Glen Robinson, Executive Manager Service Delivery for Customers, said that for Hunter Water, the decision to adopt an innovative approach has proven a win-win.

“The success of this project has been testament to the collaboration of all parties involved, both within the planning and operations teams at Hunter Water, and with our contract partners who helped us in the manufacturing and delivery,” Mr Robinson said.

“From extensive research and planning, right through to the implementation, this approach resulted in a great outcome for both Hunter Water in the repair of our water main, and for our customers and community in minimising disruption.”

By adopting this method, Hunter Water was able to negate its main obstacle.

“Our civil maintenance crews were able to access the pipe by digging two trenches, 3m deep by 7m long, on either side of the break location. This meant there was no need for significant road closures or traffic disruption to our community,” Mr Robinson said.

“We then enlisted the help of Interflow to install the Primus Line technology. This involved a week-long process of concurrently threading three flexible, reinforced liners into the water main from these trenches, and inflating them using compressed air.

“Using three smaller 450mm liners presented us with the best option for maximising the flow capacity of the pipeline, when compared with using a single 500mm liner, which would have granted us just 25 per cent of its use.

“The liners were then connected to the remaining pipeline with purpose-built manifolds. We were able to work with a local manufacturer to design and make these end fittings, which were a core component of the project.

“All up, the construction phase took just eight weeks to complete. We couldn’t have done this job without the vast number of skilled and dedicated professionals who assisted in the supply and delivery.

“I’d like to extend a sincere thanks to everyone involved, both Hunter Water staff, as well as contractors and suppliers.

“This project has demonstrated that innovation can open the door to new, better ways of doing things. We certainly hope to take the lessons learned from this job and see what we can take from it for future projects.”

Hunter Water would like to extend a special thanks to:

  • R&R Fabrications
  • SGM Fabrications
  • Ecoblast
  • Brent and Warburton
  • Hunter Crane Trucks
  • Total Flow Control
  • National Pipeline Supplies

Charlotte Pordage is Editor of Utility magazine, a position she has held since November 2018. She joined the team as an Associate Editor in October 2017, after sharpening her writing and editing skills across a range of print and digital publications. Charlotte graduated from Royal Holloway, University of London, in 2011 with joint honours in English and Latin. When she's not putting together Australia's only dedicated utility magazine, she can usually be found riding her horse or curled up with a good book.

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