Fingers Crossed: 15th Annual Municipal Survey

By Robert Carpenter, Editor | February 2012, Vol. 67 No. 2

A Texas city representative related that “our find-it/fill-it SSO reduction program using CIPP and pipe bursting methods demonstrated that we can renew more small mains quicker and cheaper, by far, than our conventional open-cut construction methods.”

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But not all was roses for the trenchless industry. A California municipal respondent said that “trenchless works well with sewers if everything is known and there are no obstacles underground. The main advantage with trenchless is avoidance of long lengths of open-trench excavations.”

Observed this Alaska city official, “due to the lack of competition, the costs are somewhat the same as open-cut.”

“Trenchless is used for rehabilitating 6-inch and 8-inch VCP, which makes up 75 percent of our system, based on length,” explained this California respondent. “But the biggest deterrent to using it more is ACP water pipes in close proximity. The water distribution agency will not allow pipe bursting if it’s too close to their ACP pipe.”

One of the most significant sections of the survey queries municipal personnel regarding their comfort levels with various trenchless methods they are familiar with. Many manufacturers have felt compelled to limit their marketing due to the recession. Unfortunately, that has also been a factor in the declining confidence ratings of several trenchless technologies.

Overall, 24.1 percent of cities say trenchless construction and rehabilitation methods have had a “high” impact on their operations; 39.1 percent say a “moderate” impact; and 36.8 percent a minimal impact.

On average, each city plans to replace 290 manholes in 2012, according to survey results.

Contractor performance
The survey again queried municipalities regarding their relationships with contractors and consulting engineers.

On a five-point scale with 5 being the best possible rating, contractors received a score of 3.87, tied for the highest rating ever achieved. “When you have a lot of people bidding for a little work, they really try to do a better job,” observed a Kansas city representative.

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When asked about what is most important attributes desired from their contractors, 82 percent of cities cited “quality” followed by “experience” (66 percent) and “timely completion” cited by 64 percent.