CLIENT: Gold Coast Water INDUSTRY: Water Utilities TYPE OF PROJECT: Sewer Treatment Facility WHEN: August 2020
In September of 2020, Gold Coast Water (a division of the City of Gold Coast) contracted Pipe Management Australia (PMA) to reinstate an overgrown irrigation ditch bioreactor at the Merrimac Wastewater Treatment Plant.
The irrigation ditch had not been used in some time, and was laden with silt, vegetation and some animal life. Gold Coast Water needed to conduct repairs on another asset at the Merrimac Wastewater Treatment Plant. This would require reinstating the irrigation ditch.
PMA was engaged for a three-day period. Their objective: to remove the waste in the ditch and return it to optimal working capacity.
Gold Coast Water selected PMA due to an existing working relationship, well equipped fleet and experienced operational staff.
There were a number of challenges for PMA to overcome as this project was taking place in an active wastewater facility.
Confined space: PMA staff would need to descend into the irrigation ditch, approximately five metres below ground level. There was no real level platform for a tripod or Davit arm to be put in place. PMA would need to come up with a solution for staff to safely clean the ditch.
Heavy vegetation growth: The cells of the irrigation ditch were overgrown with weeds and other vegetation. Recent rainfall had also left a decent amount of water at the bottom of the ditch.
Fauna: Due to the growth of vegetation, a number of small animals and birds had taken up residency within the irrigation ditch. These animals would need to be safely relocated before any work could commence.
To help crew members access the irrigation ditech, PMA utilised a towbar mounted Davit arm and man cage as a secondary solution for confined space entry. The Davit arm was used to enable the access ladder to be set in place on the cell wall which was at a 45-degree angle. All operators were attached to the retrieval winch and a large inertia reel during access and egress of the cell.
To remove the majority of vegetation and waste from the cells PMA utilised a large crane truck with an 8m3 skip. A clamshell bucket attachment was fitted to the long reach crane and used to remove 18m3 of solid vegetation prior to any washdown works. Additionally, PMA had three heavy vac combo units on site to remove liquid waste and wash down the asset.
In cooperation, Gold Coast Water and PMA staff safely relocated wildlife from the work zones.
PMA supplied the latest equipment and an experienced crew. The team showed innovative thinking when tackling tasks that were out of the ordinary from daily works.
PMA removed and disposed of 117m3 of waste at a regulated waste facility. A further 20m3 was disposed of at the council’s main treatment plant at Coombabah.
Although the project was scheduled to take three days, the PMA crew were able to complete the work in two 11 hour shifts. This resulted in considerable savings for the client.
Additionally, because PMA completed the works ahead of time, Gold Coast Water were able to bring the plant online earlier. This was timely as there were issues with another asset that could have shut the plant down resulting in a potentially harmful discharge of sewage.
Ultimately, the work was carried out and completed a full shift prior to client’s expectations. The cells were thoroughly cleaned with all waste removed.
Sir Bertram Stevens Drive runs through Royal National Park, 45 minutes South-West of Sydney’s CBD. The park is maintained by the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, however road maintenance is controlled by TfNSW. This project was located within the Sutherland Shire Local Government Area and the La Perouse Aboriginal Land Council area. Sir Bertram Stevens Drive is a connecting road between the communities of Waterfall in the West, to Bundeena in the North East.
Four culverts were identified as medium to high risk due to the number of defects identified during routine investigation. These defects posed a risk to the health and safety of road users, and the environmental condition of the surrounding areas, especially downstream. The purpose of this project was the rehabilitation of the identified culverts to ensure structural stability.
The project was located on a moderately straight section of road approximately 1km in length. The culverts are positioned equidistantly along the length of the road segment, with approximately 300m between each culvert. The original culverts were constructed from local, heritage sandstone, likely installed between 1910 and 1914.
This project was undertaken within the Royal National Park amongst some strict work restrictions around plant movements, and the presence of endangered species. The Red-Crowned Toadlet is endemic to the Sydney Basin and is found in small colonies. This means any disturbance could have a significant impact on a local population. The area was also home to various species of native microbats, whose local populations could also be impacted by any major disruption. As these bats typically dwell in areas synonymous with culverts, PMA would need to ensure precautions were taken during the project.
The location of the project was specifically challenging as there was no phone reception across the site. This meant that all works and resources had to be strategically planned and rehearsed prior to establishing each night to ensure that all resources were onsite to complete the tasks at hand.
Due to the location VBA had no option but to detour all traffic from this road to allow the works to be completed safely. This involved a 15km detour, one of the larger detours that VBA had to put in place during their Stewardship Maintenance Contract.
To ensure the structural longevity of the culverts, and minimize risk to the public or the environment, the following work was carried out:
Excavate and replace 2.4m of existing 750mm pipework at the outlet and install a new concrete headwall. Installation of four in situ patch liners.
Excavate and replace 11m of 600mm box culvert / 750mm round culvert and replace with 750mm concrete pipe.
Installation of four in situ patch liners.
Excavate and replace 8.6m of existing 600mm x 300mm box culvert with 600mm concrete pipe.
Managing environmental issues
PMA and VBA collectively managed the environmental issues by investing considerable time before the project in the creation of the site-specific Construction Environmental Management Plan (CEMP) and project documentation.
Through collaboration between PMA, VBA and Eco Logical Australia there were no encounters with endangered species throughout the project. This was due to the presence of Eco Logical Australia being on site and the control in place. All culverts were inspected by hand by an ecologist for the Red-Crowned Toadlet prior to any works and microbat exclusion controls were put in place weeks prior to the project to deter bats from nesting within the culverts.
Additionally, all debris was removed by hand. Erosion and sediment controls were also implemented on each culvert. Through management of all the project variables (like rainfall) and frequent environmental, Work Health & Safety inspections there were no reported incidents or issues throughout the duration of the project.
Contingencies for a remote project
The remote location was managed effectively by PMA. All work shifts were planned and discussed to ensure the correct resources were onsite when needed. This included having a contingency for unforeseen issues such as providing excess backfill and road plates. VBA also had a satellite phone onsite at all times in case of emergency and all relevant stakeholders were given the phone number.
Systems for traffic management
VBA and one of their traffic control providers (Altus) were able to manage the detour of traffic effectively by giving the surrounding community advance notice of the works. For the duration, Altus had Variable Message Sign (VMS) boards strategically placed in the local government area advising of the road closure. In case a vehicle breached the initial roadblocks, additional protection was provided to the crews onsite by utilising remote controlled boom gates.
PMA provided value to VBA over and above the brief through the quality of our project documentation (site specific CEMP) as well as the professionalism and quality of our workmanship on site. Our project manager was on site for each shift to directly manage any issues or change events directly with the VBA site supervisor which allowed for efficient decisions for construction and financial purposes.
Considering the large impact on the community due to the closure arrangement it was imperative the project to be completed on time. Although the project was forecasted to take 15 shifts, PMA were able to dramatically overachieve and completed this project in less than 10 shifts. This allowed the asset to be handed back to the community ahead of schedule.
All environmental benchmarks of the project were achieved with additional efficiencies made on site in the form of reusing materials.
Reusing materials for sustainability
The culverts replaced were constructed out of sandstone blocks. Instead of dumping these, PMA reused the sandstone blocks at the culvert outlet to create a make shift headwall and additional scour protection. This was beyond the scope of work. Any remaining sandstone was then delivered to the Royal National Park depot for reuse throughout the park. PMA reused over 81% of all materials onsite. The only disposal was of asphalt and concrete pipe from the project. All rehabilitated assets hit the brief requirements and achieved an Assessed Risk Level rating of four or above.
As a result of the work carried out, strength was given back to the road to allow for the local community and visitors an unimpeded journey through the National Park, while keeping local wildlife safe.
Pipe Management Australia (PMA) recently welcomed a new, powerful vac truck to it’s growing fleet on Australia’s East Coast.
Dubbed the “PMA 8 Inch Superior Vac Unit by Cappellotto,” the new Vac Truck features an extended arm and exceptional vacuum performance ideal for the non-destructive digging, drain cleaning and GPT work that it will be carrying out.
CLIENT: IC Pipes INDUSTRY: Utilities TYPE OF PROJECT: Sewer Cleaning WHEN: April, 2020
In April 2020, IC Pipes were engaged by Sydney Water to undertake inspections of the Randwick Sewer Submain in Coogee, NSW. Traditionally IC Pipes would rely on their CCTV inspection technology to undertake this scope of work. In this scenario, however, the sewer assets were Oviform shaped, with large diameters (approx. 1100-1300mm) and due to more people being at home through the COVID-19 pandemic sewerage flows were higher through the day.
Instead, IC Pipes used new sonar technology known as a Rapid Assessment Condition Evaluation Robot (RACERTM) for the sewer inspection. The RACERTM not only records video to assess damage but can detect the depth of underwater debris within the pipe.
From the inspections, IC Pipes operators were able to accurately identify up to 400mm of silt across this 3km asset (approximately 1300 cubic meters). The buildup of silt was a concern. Sewers that become blocked cause a backup of waste that can overflow in residential properties, public spaces and other areas. This would then become a major environmental and public health emergency.
From this discovery, IC Pipes engaged Pipe Management Australia (PMA) to remove this silt and debris with our fleet of state-of-the-art drain cleaning equipment.
As with any sewer project, there are numerous challenges with respects to environment, safety and community.
PMA had to come up with an innovative approach to the project. Some manholes were over 30 meters deep (below ground level). Additionally, sections of the sewer were made with Glass Reinforced Pipe (GRP). Access to each manhole had its own set of community impacts and traffic control concerns.
Considering the volume of debris, the geographical location of the project was also an issue. The waste removed from the asset would need to be disposed of at a licensed facility. This would dramatically reduce the speed of the project due to the distance needed for vehicles to travel to dispose of their load.
PMA came up with an innovative solution to remove silt from the sewer in the Randwick Submain in Coogee. To address public safety, the PMA team set up an exclusion zone around the project site. This meant that the street was blocked off and traffic management was implemented during the active hours of the project.
Sewer Cleaning with Vac Trucks
To remove the silt, PMA used a vacuum truck with a pressure hose. The pressure hose is inserted into the sewer. It is fitted a special nozzle, which sprays water back in the direction of the hose. This propels the hose forward through the pipe. It then enables the PMA operator to pull the hose back towards the entry point, flushing the waste back toward the vacuum hose. The waste is then vacuumed into the truck.
For this project PMA used a new, heavier design of the torpedo nozzle. This was called the O.M.G. which enabled the delivery of high-water volume at a lower pressure to reduce impact and wear on the GRP sewer pipes.
PMA recognized that the sewer was Oviform (oval in shape) which meant it should self-clean. Instead of having to clean the entire 3km length, PMA started the project downstream (Dolphin Street). They then focussed work on the first 300 metres of pipe. This encouraged the remaining silt (3km worth) to progress down the pipe into the clean zone to then be removed.
Reducing Travel & Improving Productivity
A regular vacuum truck working on a sewer project will fill up with waste relatively quickly as it removes both water and silt from the pipes. PMA used their vacuum trucks with recycling capabilities. These trucks extract and recycle the water that is sucked into the waste tank. This allowed PMA to reduce the amount of waste generated by the project. As a result, there were fewer trips to drop off waste. This increase in productivity allowed trucks to remain on site for longer, while saving water.
Often, vacuum trucks will need to travel long distances to a waste facility to empty their load. This can mean that once the waste tank is full, the vehicle won’t return to site until the next day. Due to the vast volume of debris being removed from this project, PMA needed to develop a solution to make the disposal process more efficient. PMA and IC Pipes were able to arrange a dedicated area at a local Sydney Water facility to house multiple sealed waste bins for disposal of debris. This allowed for all vehicles to safely dispose of all captured debris in a controlled environment. By doing so, PMA were able to gain over two hours per day of additional productivity time on site which aided the completion of this project in a timely manner.
PMA was able to complete the project and remove 140,000 Kilograms of silt from the sewer in Coogee within four weeks (that is equivalent to the weight of four adult humpback whales). At the end of the project, IC Pipes completed another video and sonar assessment of the sewer. The silt buildup within the pipe decreased to less than 5%. The flow within the pipe had sped up and the risk of any sewer back up or overflow was drastically reduced.
Completing this project in a timely manner prevented any issues of waste back up or overflow, protecting the environment and ensuring the health of the local community (and whales).
This week, Pipe Management Australia (PMA) celebrates 10 years of excellence in utilities management services, from stormwater management to hydro-excavation, on Australia’s East Coast.
The Early Days
Luke Moore and Justin Johansen founded PMA in 2010, operating out of Sydney’s South West.
Johansen recalls how PMA came about.
“Luke and I both worked together in the industry from the early 2000’s and in 2010 discussed the idea of starting a company and buying a Combination Drain Cleaning unit as we both needed to use them in our other businesses. On the 20th of August 2010 we launched PMA with the vision of 5 trucks in 5 Years!”
“10 years on we now have close to 50 trucks.”
Their vision was simple and remains the fabric of PMA today: to consistently provide the most effective solution for clients.
“Drawing on our individual experiences running our own sewer, stormwater and waste management companies, Justin and I created PMA with an unwavering vision to always provide the right solution for clients,” says Moore.
Johansen explains, “For 10 years now, we have been helping cities, councils and private organisations to identify, solve and maintain the flow of stormwater and sewer drain networks.”
Today, PMA operates across four depots on the East Coast of Australia and serves some of Australia’s largest councils, water utilities, private industry and infrastructure projects. The team has swelled to over eighty staff members across four depots in Queensland and NSW.
Clients Remain the Focus
Despite the rapid growth, PMA has maintained their focus on the client. Josh Vella from Velco utilised PMA’s services for a project in Bundaberg, Queensland. Vella recalls his experience as a customer,
“We were more than happy with the professionalism that was shown by the PMA crew that worked on the project.
The trucks arrived on site 10 minutes before the start time to ready for the work, the second truck arrived 10 minutes early as well. Crews worked with commitment and a good attitude to get the work done safely and timely.”
Johansen describes how the PMA team is able to deliver consistent value for clients, “We work with our customers to fully understand the objectives of their projects and deliver what they need using state of the art equipment. We provide experienced professional operators and draw on the substantial experience of our senior management team.”
In thinking about the anniversary and PMA’s accomplishments over the last 10 years, Luke Moore summed,
“Justin and I are extremely proud of our team’s achievements in what we’ve been able to deliver for clients in the last 10 years. We are looking forward to accomplishing even greater things in the years to come.”