Central Coast Council Water and Sewer has completed testing of new condition assessment technology for water and sewer pressure pipelines, which is set to improve the decision-making and planning for renewals and upgrades. 

The technology is also expected to reduce water outages and decrease environmental and safety risks during pipeline maintenance and repair works.

Central Coast Council Director for Water and Sewer, Jamie Loader, said that the assessment technology offers numerous advantages with a focus on customers, cost efficiency and the environment.

“Implementing the ‘p-CAT’ technology provides another tool in our belt and is part of our commitment to continual improvement across our operations and service delivery,” Mr Loader said.

“The technology sends pulses between existing surface fittings to detect issues in the pipe walls integrity, all while the water continues to flow within the pipes to our customers. This improves water and sewer service reliability for our community as it is not necessary to always turn off the mains and disrupt water services during larger pipeline assessments.

“The assessment process is also faster, safer and more environmentally friendly than alternate condition assessment techniques that require the removal of pipe samples to obtain similar results.

“Not only does ‘p-CAT’ reduce our assessment period from weeks to days, but it also lowers potential risk to workers and possible damage to pipelines during excavation and pipe cutting.” 

Mr Loader said that another advantage is that the technology improves precision, locating anomalies to within 10m in pipelines stretching several kilometres. 

“The exactness of our investigations means we can save on repair costs by repairing and replacing smaller sections of pipes. We will also have greater confidence in the condition of mains which will extend the longevity of our water and sewer assets and maximise their value as we better prioritise their renewal – saving on long-term costs.” 

‘p-CAT’ is used for targeted, long distance pipeline condition assessment and was successfully trialled at Charmhaven and Wyong South sewer treatment plants in 2023. The effluent disposal mains condition assessment testing at plants is enabling Council to understand the existing condition of these assets and make informed decisions about their suitability for proposed sewer treatment plant upgrade works.

The technology works by temporarily inserting signal generators and receiving sensors across the pipeline network. A wave is injected into the pipeline and as it travels through the pipe, it is partially reflected, and the data is collected. This wave provides information on various measures such as internal blockages, material changes, air and gas pockets and the thickness of pipe wall to 0.2mm accuracy. The technology can be applied on any pressurised fluid filled pipeline carrying water or sewage.

Central Coast Council’s Administrator, Rik Hart, has welcomed the cutting-edge technology as an example of continual improvement of Council’s Water and Sewer services.

“Council continues to innovate in a financially responsible and strategic manner to deliver safe, reliable and sustainable services supporting the growth of the Central Coast.” 

Featured image: Council workers performing pipe assessment. Image credit: Central Coast Council.

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