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

Having a network of resources is a crucial step in researching this technology and being able to present it to the decision makers in a community. Of course, the presentation of any technology will achieve better results if the information presented is consistent with audience needs or wants. The level of understanding an engineer must have to feel comfortable with the technology will be much different than that of a small town utility board. Gaining the trust of all stakeholders is important. Many IPBA members have found great success is presenting information as simple as basic jobsite layout and construction techniques to technical design calculations and project impact studies. It is also important to hear the perspectives of the utility service departments as they often have valid concerns in regards to bringing a new type of pipe into their system or the constructability of the project.

One of the biggest factors holding pipe bursting back from gaining wider acceptance is simply “fear of the unknown” and the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality. Most communities are very comfortable with the processes involved with traditional open-cut utility construction, CIPP for sewer main rehabilitation or even cement mortar lining for municipal water main rehabilitation. As the most common rehab methods in the U.S. for water and sewer, these methods are still very reliable; however, pipe bursting will offer advantages that many of these traditional methods can’t match. Pipe bursting is the only method of pipeline rehabilitation that is able to replace an existing pipe with a new pipe that has the same or larger inner diameter without the need to dig a trench for the length of the project. With the growth of our communities and increase in demands from our underground utility infrastructure, as well as the public’s demand for lessened disruptions and a greater environmental awareness, considering pipe bursting now may be good timing for your community.

In a world where there seems to be a new technology regularly announced on the evening news, we must understand the public’s apprehension to consider anything other than business as usual. We need to look at the general public’s lack of understanding of our technology more as an opportunity than a barrier. This can also be said for the overall underground construction market as it has recently expanded to include reliable methods for installing materials like polyvinyl chloride (PVC), ductile iron and others by trenchless methods including pipe bursting.

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