Assessing Critical Pipelines with Minimal Down Time

Published on Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Assessing Critical Pipelines with Minimal Down Time

Pipelines are to Tampa Bay Water’s system what veins and arteries are to the human body. Critical pipelines carry wholesale water to and from our treatment and distribution facilities, and to our member governments. Should one of these pipelines fail, the result could be service interruptions to residents and businesses.

That’s why Tampa Bay Water is proactively assessing the condition of its critical pipelines. To prevent unexpected service outages, Tampa Bay Water assesses portions of its 200-mile distribution system each year. The annual assessments focus first on the pipelines that have the highest consequence of failure to determine the condition, remaining useful life or replacement needs of aging infrastructure.

Recently, Tampa Bay Water assessed a 6-mile segment of its South Pasco Transmission Main which was built between 1961 and 1971. This 42-inch diameter prestressed concrete pipeline delivers water to the City of St. Petersburg and Hillsborough County.

The assessment of the South Pasco pipeline was done while the pipeline remained in service. A product called a SmartBall was launched at one end of the pipeline. It rolled along the pipeline floor and recorded sounds that indicate leaks. Then another device called a PipeDiver was deployed. This 7-foot-long device used electromagnets to precisely detect any pipeline damage. Both devices were removed at a downstream manhole.

Data collected from the SmartBall and PipeDiver devices will be analyzed and summarized in a condition assessment report. Any recommendations for further investigation or repairs will be incorporated in the utility’s next Capital Improvement Program.

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