Editor’s Log: Raising The Rehab Bar

Cured-in-place pipe rehabilitation technology for sewer systems has been an industry force for decades. The technology is generally well-accepted as an excellent trenchless alternative to dig-and-replace.

However, some areas of the country are still reluctant to use the method as past experiences have left a bad taste in their mouth. Admittedly, as the technology and market developed, some installations have fallen short over the years and effectively destroyed market potential. Yet, CIPP is a vital technology in today’s marketplace — important to not only to installers, but also to municipalities in dire need of a proper fix for their sewer woes.

Inspectors on open-cut projects are trained to carefully monitor installations and often quick to pull the plug or ask questions if something doesn’t seem right – as they should. Good contractors like well-informed and trained inspectors. Work is not halted or slowed by unnecessary complaints or concerns, yet acting in a proactive, pre-emptive manner can save time and millions of dollars for both contractors and owners. A good contractor and a knowledgeable inspector make a great team.

Now, with CIPP products advancing into pressure pipe applications, it’s time for the market to assert itself. It’s time for municipal personnel and consulting engineers to take responsibility in overseeing proper installations of CIPP products, whether traditional water, new steam or even UV light cures.

With advances of CIPP technology, there is no excuse for contractors to not provide quality services or for cities to consider themselves “victims” when an installation is not up to par. It’s time for the rehabilitation industry to elevate its game. Industry association NASSCO is again leading the way to do just that.

NASSCO has had a pronounced, positive impact on the sewer pipe inspection marketplace with its Pipeline Assessment & Certification Program. Basically, the program has brought consistency, professionalism, relevance and practical usefulness to the mountains of inspection data cities accumulate on an annual basis. While there are still cities that haven’t yet adopted the PACP standard, that number is dwindling rapidly. For many, excellent reasons, the PACP wave continues to engulf our market. Lateral and Manhole Assessment & Certification Programs have been completed as well.

Now, a new wave is growing. NASSCO Technical Director Gerry Muenchmeyer completed development of a pilot CIPP Inspector Training Program about two years ago. It was much discussed – and cussed – and extensively beta tested. But by 2009, this extensive, two-day training program was rolled out to rave reviews and has already began to fundamentally change the way many cities go about inspecting CIPP installations. Contractors participating in the training now have a better understanding of what is expected – and needed – from projects. Look for this program to have a very positive effect on the CIPP industry.

Next up, Muenchmeyer is already nearing completion of a Pipebursting Inspector Training Program. Pipebursting in another extremely effective and often misunderstood trenchless method. The market upside for pipebursting is tremendous but the industry comfort zone with the technology lags behind. The inspector training program could very well provide an excellent assist.

Also helping the pipebursting market continue its growth momentum are the renewed efforts of the International Pipe Bursting Association, a division of NASSCO. At the recent Underground Construction Technology Conference in Tampa, the IPBA held what amounted to a revitalization meeting. The 20-plus contractors and manufacturers at the meeting reorganized and refocused the IPBA, and have embarked on a campaign to assist in further market development, education and leadership.

The North American Society for Trenchless Technology also has been tackling industry education, one of its defined objectives, through a series of Good Practices courses designed to provide detailed overviews of technologies. NASTT provides those courses in a variety of locations across the country and continues to expand those programs.

Kudos to NASSCO, IPBA and NASTT for bringing relevant information to North America. In the long run, these programs will serve to elevate the rehabilitation industry to the next level.

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