The El Dorado Irrigation District's asbestos-cement pipes brought significant repair costs. Thankfully, the stainless steel coupling was able to reduce repair time with ease.
By: Demian Krueger
The El Dorado Irrigation District (EID) serves El Dorado County in northern California (population approx. 130,000). Covering a service area of 220 square miles, EID provides water, sewer, recycling and hydroelectric services to agriculture, business and residential customers with 1,300 miles of pipe and 50 thousand connections.
EID’s water infrastructure is aging with approximately 600 repairs on water services and mains per year due to seismic activity, damage caused by growing tree roots, and regular wear and tear. Water Construction Supervisor Noel Russel and his crew make piping repairs on a daily basis, constantly trying to prioritize repairs and how to assign workers.
The district’s asbestos-cement (AC) pipes prove to be particularly difficult to repair. When these pipes need to be cut to replace a section of damaged pipe, several health and environmental precautions must be taken. Water flow is shut down, and pipes need to be flushed out and disinfected before water service can return. EID must manage water shutdown notifications, and businesses and residents have to deal with the inconvenience of no service.
With the Mueller’s HYMAX brand stainless steel coupling, named HYMAX VERSA, EID was able to repair AC pipes much faster. Because the pipes no longer needed to be cut, and water flow did not need to shut off. The coupling could be opened to wrap around the pipe to repair the damage without any further action required.
EID can now avoid the precautionary environmental and health measures, regulatory paperwork, and flushing out and disinfecting processes, since water flow can continue at reduced pressure during the repair. Water service is minimally impacted with repair costs lowered due to fewer workers performing the repair and without the need for shutdown notifications. Perhaps most importantly, the risk to water quality is greatly minimized.
Russel says that the product was a game-changer for them. “By using it instead of standard couplings, we’ve been able to reduce repair times by 70% with thousands of dollars saved per job. Our water system is aging and planning repairs is a moving target as we are often dealing with multiple repairs per day..”
The coupling’s weld-free construction and 100 percent stainless steel parts make it resistant to corrosion. It also has a patented hydraulic pressure-assisted gasket that inflates as water pressure increases. This allows for three degrees of dynamic deflection on each end to reduce the risk of future damage to the pipe due to shifting ground caused by seismic activity. The radial closing design and sealing systems also help eliminate installation errors.
The coupling can be applied in several different ways. It can be stab fit to couple pipes or it can be wrapped around damaged sections to repair the pipe. This gives installers the option to either connect or repair a range of water and wastewater piping types with diameters from 1.5" to 85”. This flexibility and wide tolerance substantially reduces inventory costs and saves shelf space.
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