Austin’s Trenchless Projects Discussed At GCTA

December 2008 Vol. 63 No. 12
Gopal Guthikonda

Gopal Guthikonda, assistant director of the Engineering Services Program with the Austin Water Utility, Austin, TX, was the guest speaker at the bi-monthly meeting sponsored by the Gulf Coast Trenchless Association (GCTA) held on Oct. 8, in Houston.

Guthikonda is responsible for providing engineering support functions for the execution of all Austin’s water and wastewater improvements and is responsible for the implementation of the Water and Wastewater Capital Improvement Program.

Guthikonda is also the program manager for the $400 Million Austin Clean Water Program, a wastewater pipeline replacement and rehabilitation program initiated by the city of Austin to meet a federal mandate.

Guthikonda holds bachelors and masters degrees in civil engineering and is a Registered Professional Engineer in Texas. He has more than 28 years of experience in the water and wastewater industry, and has worked in various capacities for the Austin Water Utility since 1987. Before joining the Utility, he worked for consulting engineering firms designing wastewater collection systems and treatment plants.

Topics discussed included the EPA administrative order to eliminate Sanitary Sewer Overflows (SSOs) from the wastewater collection system. The activities to improve the wastewater collections system include infiltration/inflow, sanitary sewer evaluation surveys, as well as subsequent design and construction necessary improvements to the wastewater collection system.

“We’ve spent $400 million towards the EPA mandate issued to the city of Austin in 1999 to correct our overflow system,” says Guthikonda. “The city is required to be in compliance by June 2009 and we are on schedule to complete them. We’ve eliminated the SSOs and have identified and completed 14 tasks with about only five more projects to finish.”

A five-year Water Plan and Wastewater Plan are in effect. According to reported figures provided by Guthikonda, Austin is planning to upgrade the transmission, distribution, pump stations, reservoirs, utilities, roads, and rehab the water system for the water program. More work will be done for the wastewater program that will include: line rehab and collection system improvements; the North Austin Wastewater Interceptor; the Onion Creek Interceptor; and upgrades to the Seaholm site.

Of interest to attendees was how Austin is planning to use trenchless technologies to accomplish these tasks.

Guthikonda says, “The city prefers to use lining, spot repairs and CIPP due to the rocky soils in the area. We also use manhole rehabilitation and clean-out installation.”