COVID-19 has shocked the world, challenging many local and national governments until social distancing restrictions ease. However, some infrastructure projects are so critical to the health and wellbeing of the local community, that they cannot wait. For a local crew undertaking one of the largest diameter wastewater rehabilitation projects New Zealand has ever seen, this meant they had to challenge the status quo and push the limits of traditional water infrastructure methods.
The largest water infrastructure project New Zealand has seen
Located under the coastal streets of Moa Point is one of Wellington’s most critical sewer pipelines that manages wastewater for over 200,000 residents.
It was discovered that the pipeline was experiencing severe corrosion and was at risk of collapse. The corrosion had reached, and in places penetrated, the steel reinforcement of the pipeline, posing a threat to the health of the network, the community and the environment.
Understanding that the health and longevity of this asset is a top priority, Wellington Water publicly tendered the works, seeking an innovative yet cost-effective solution that would prioritise the needs of the community and minimise disruption to residents.
The project was awarded to water infrastructure specialist, Interflow, renowned in the industry for its appetite for innovation and commitment to solving its customers’ problems. The Moa Point wastewater rehabilitation would soon become the largest diameter sewer pipeline renewal project to take place on New Zealand’s shores and true to its reputation, Interflow approached the challenge head on.
Local project shaken by global pandemic
The contract was awarded in late February to reline 260m of Wellington’s main sewer, but could not commence until April. Crews quickly learnt the importance of adaptability and agility when the now-global pandemic emerged in New Zealand.
New Zealand’s lockdown regulations have been some of the strictest in the world, however Interflow’s classification as an essential service facilitated the continuance of critical repairs to the wastewater network, albeit with some changes to the workflow.
Interflow’s Project Engineer, Saadia Ali, described some of the challenges the crews had to overcome to keep the project on schedule.
“The expectation that our colleagues from Australia would fly out and provide support was no longer a reality and required us to employ some unconventional approaches,” Ms Ali said.
Interflow’s New Zealand crew had been expecting assistance from their Australian counterparts experienced with the Rotaloc product, which provides structural lining for deteriorated circular pipes. Once travel restrictions were put in place by both the Australian and New Zealand Governments, Interflow’s crews, in a business first, turned to virtual channels to bridge the training gap.
Tenacity and determination shine
Ms Ali also explained how the utilisation of digital technologies enabled the crew to develop the necessary skills needed to deliver these works.
“The solution was a remote Rotaloc training session held via video link to bring our team up to speed on the patented technology’s application and operations,” Ms Ali said.
The Rotaloc installation of a new liner into the pipe provides a durable, long-term solution that will protect Wellington’s main wastewater pipeline, known as the ‘Interceptor’, from corrosion and support the needs of the community for at least another 50 years.
“Our team worked extremely hard to overcome the challenges faced due to the pandemic. We were working away from our families in an ‘Interflow bubble’ and had to rethink the way we collaborated with our customers, contractors and the broader community,” Ms Ali said.
Commitment to the community
Through collaboration and forward thinking, Wellington Water and Interflow rebuilt the city’s critical wastewater link before any serious harmful effects impacted the city. Had this swift approach not been applied before the collapse of the pipe, the social, environmental and health ramifications may have been catastrophic.
The works have now been completed and Wellington’s residents can rest easy knowing that the wastewater network that services their homes, local businesses and community is fully operational.
Interflow’s flexibility during the rapidly evolving pandemic enabled the company to tackle the challenges of COVID-19 head on and deliver the project to an exceptional standard.
The virtual training and collaboration that took place during this project demonstrate the company’s innovative approach to problem solving.
Furthermore, the solution is now incorporated into the New Zealand team’s service offering moving forward, enhancing their ability to respond to challenges of this type in the future.
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