Breaking Down Barriers – Gaining Acceptance For Pipe Bursting In Your Community

4th In A Series From The IPBA
By Matt Timberlake, President, Ted Berry Trenchless Technologies LLC, International Pipe Bursting Association Marketing Committee | August 2011, Vol. 66 No. 8

Editor’s Note: The International Pipe Bursting Association (IPBA), a division of NASSCO, is presenting a series of articles in Underground Construction that will provide the reader with a better understanding of the technology. Many myths and misconceptions exist regarding this proven rehabilitation method for replacing existing underground utilities.

Pipe bursting is a proven method for replacing underground pipelines that provide critical services including municipal water, sewer, gas, storm water, electrical, telecommunications systems and more to people throughout North America and the world. In many parts of the country, pipe bursting is still considered a new technology; however, pipe bursting has been performed in Europe for more than 40 years and is a proven component of many long-term capital improvement programs in the United States.

In the U.S., many communities are unwilling or slow to consider an alternative to traditional construction methods. As engineers, contractors and manufacturers, we are often asked to help “sell” the new technology to utility system owners, consultants or public officials.

Utility system owners are constantly under pressure to do more with less. Finding alternative solutions is becoming more readily accepted; however, barriers remain to any technology new to a region.

The two primary challenges that pipe bursting faces in gaining community acceptance are:

• Acceptance of a “new” or unfamiliar technology to those in the underground utility industry; and
• Acceptance of HDPE pipe for use in a system -- it has been by far the primary type of pipe installed over the past 15 years.

Overcoming these barriers is critical to the responsible growth of this technology. However, it is important to build a comfort level with the decision makers responsible for spending public funds in your community. In many areas, most design and/or consulting engineers do not have a great deal of practical experience with pipe bursting and thus are reluctant to suggest the technology to clients. Industry events are a great way for engineers and consultants to gain knowledge of this technology without putting their clients at unwanted risk. Many IPBA members will invite engineers or utility system owners to a jobsite so they can see, in real life, how pipe bursting is accomplished and the benefits of this technology.

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