Burlington Public Works using new method for old pipe overhaul

BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) Burlington is in the process of relining 100-year-old water pipes. A technology that has been around elsewhere for years is now helping the city complete the major undertaking with minimal disruption to drivers.

"Clean water is life, and for too long, the city did not put the investment in our water distribution system," said Burlington Public Works Director Chapin Spencer.

There are more than 110 miles of pipes under Burlington delivering water to homes and businesses 24-7. But Spencer says 25 percent of those pipes are more than 100 years old. "Those are the pipes that are often breaking, which cause breaks in service. They cause discolored water," he said.

Pipes with mineral deposits can't deliver the water pressure the fire department needs to fight fires. Spencer says replacing those pipes can be challenging. "We need to excavate every couple hundred feet along a water line to give us access," he said. "It's more invasive, it takes longer, it's more costly."

This year the city has relined more than three miles of water main using a less disruptive method. The Canadian company Aquarehab contracted with the city to clean the pipes without having to close streets.

Foreman Luc Leclerc says the pipes they're cleaning on Flynn Ave are 130-years-old. "We cut the pipe, we clean it with a water drill, then we send a camera in to locate the service to see if the pipe is in good condition," he said.

He says inserting and drying the lining mixture inside the pipes takes about six hours. It varies from project to project, but Spencer says the city saves a third to two-thirds each time it uses the relining method because they don't have to do a full excavation and replacement. And Spencer says it will save the city in the long run. "We will have generations of service out of an 100-year-old pipe that has been renewed for another 50 to 100 years," he said.

The city still uses the old method if they have to put in larger pipes like they're doing on Ferguson Avenue. The crews will be doing the re-lining on Flynn Avenue next Tuesday.