The recent ‘retirement’ of a 67-year-old cast iron valve in Geraldton, WA, is just the start of a huge $800,000 valve replacement program for the city’s critical valve network, ensuring that valves are operational and interruptions are contained for several decades to come.

Water Corporation’s 2018-19 program to upgrade Geraldton’s critical valve network is designed to ensure that valves operate as effectively as possible, allowing the Corporation to continue isolating and controlling the flow of water through pipes, and in turn, reducing the number of residents and businesses impacted by water outages.

“In Geraldton alone, Water Corporation manages over 200km of water main. Valves are essential to our water supply network,” said Water Corporation Mid West Regional Manager, Stephen Greeve.

The importance of valves to the supply network became particularly evident when a 67-year-old 600mm valve, nicknamed ‘John’ after a valve manufacturer, became inoperable.

This meant that the water being supplied to approximately 4,000 customers living downstream could not be controlled in the event of an unforeseen break in the pipe network.

During the work on the valve replacement, Water Corporation also worked in parallel to replace a number of smaller valves within the isolated area to strengthen the network. 

Project planning and procurement

The extensive planning process for the project took several months, with Water Corporation working with its design, project and operations teams to overlay installation requirements. 

The replacement process for ‘John’ involved unique challenges and required its own careful planning. 

According to Mr Greeve, the procurement process involved purchasing the fittings and valves required for the work through specialist manufacturers. 

“These were custom-made to accommodate the unique configurations of the network. Additional contingency fittings and parts were also manufactured to assist with future maintenance,” Mr Greeve said.

To reduce inconvenience to customers, Water Corporation made plans to carry out the work at night.

“Night works carry additional safety risks, which were heightened by extreme weather conditions. The initial program was rescheduled due to severe wind gusts and heavy rain on the night, which presented some challenges in terms of keeping our customers and key stakeholders well informed,” Mr Greeve said.

With these custom parts being installed to improve Water Corporation’s ability to manage the flow of water through pipes, Geraldton will soon benefit from a more secure water supply and fewer interruptions.

Some of the elements involved in the project include:

  • Site preparation and excavation
  • Equipment-hire including cranes and heavy machinery
  • Site security measures and traffic management
  • Legal permits applications
  • Design and ordering of parts and material
  • Methodology for work involved
  • Pipe draining and recharge
  • Assessing of risks to personnel and safe job planning
  • Implementing controls to mitigate risks 
  • Customer notifications
  • Contingency measures
  • Resource planning and contractual arrangements 

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