Editor's Log: Rehab Growth & Dreams

July 2012, Vol. 67, No. 7

The rehabilitation industry has arrived. As we struggle through another slow year for municipal spending, the one constant in every city’s plans remains funding a certain amount of rehab work. No longer the last resort for addressing sewer and water system repairs, rehab has evolved to the modern science of repair that it is today. From chemical grout to more than 20 difference market niches, rehabilitation has come of age.

It wasn’t that long ago that “rehabilitating” your sewer system was primarily limited to using the proprietary – and expensive – new-fangled cured-in-place pipe technology imported from the United Kingdom. Otherwise, the primary option was digging down to damaged or failing pipe sections and replacing lengths of pipe. While effective, depending upon the scope of repair needed, this historic procedure could be extremely expensive, especially if the pipe was buried deep, tended to be very disruptive to the neighborhood, was time intensive and often a stop-gap measure when the failing pipe sections began to approach thousands of feet in length.

Water rehabilitation was virtually unheard of, limited to system flushing and water jetting for cleaning purposes only.

When the Insituform patents expired soon after the turn of the century, a new dynamic quickly developed. CIPP became more of a commodity and companies from all around the world introduced their own versions of the method. And of course, the introduction of ultraviolet curing has opened an entirely new dimension to traditional steam or water curing methods.

By 2000, pipe bursting was firmly established as a viable solution as well and that method continues to grow at a phenomenal rate as variations and techniques improve and applications diversify. Solutions continue to be found for long-standing barriers to the technology and additional niches are developed on a regular basis.

In just 25 years, we’ve gone from a handful of effective and reasonably economical rehabilitation methods to scores of affordable techniques – not to mention much improved preventative measures. Diagnostics continue to get better, aided immensely by the standardization of condition assessment made possible by NASSCO’s visionary Pipeline Assessment and Certification Program which now includes manholes and laterals.