In tough times, trenchless will prevail

State reports: each state councillor submitted an annual review for the Trenchless Technology sector in their state. Many councillors reported difficult times, with the recent spate of natural disasters and ongoing effects from the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) slowing business. However, despite the hardship, many reported that the future for the industry looking bright. As the effects of the GFC ease, and the reconstruction works from earthquakes and floods are set to commence, it’s clear that Trenchless Technology will begin to play a starring role in the months and years ahead.

Western Australia

Activity in the Western Australian civil construction industry continued to be slower than anticipated and this was reflected also for the Trenchless Technology sector.

Water Corporation continued its reduced programs, which affected works that allow for Trenchless Technology. The Infill Sewerage program continued at a reduced program but some microtunnelling lines were still being completed as part of these works. The Corporation continued a reduced sewer rehabilitation program for a panel of relining contractors and re-advertised for a new panel of contractors at the end of 2010. Several microtunnelling jobs were completed as part of the Pipelines and Pump Stations Alliance, utilising a number of contractors. These installed sintakote MSCL pipes in various locations.

The City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder announced contracts (over $A3 million) to rehabilitate its sewer pipe systems and is promoting the use of trenchless methods to do so. These have now commenced.

The use of CIPP to rehabilitate pipes in several Perth councils rehabilitating drainage pipes was reduced due to budget cut backs.

It was pleasing to see RePipe using its pipe-bursting Tric tool system to complete several high profile projects in WA.

The use of directional drilling for the installation of underground power and communications continues and many contracts were completed, although this still remains a very competitive market with many smaller contractors. A notable contract was the communications line from Perth to Geraldton. While much of it was completed by ploughing, over 7 km was completed using HDD. HDD projects are expected to increase with the National Broadband Network exploring projects in WA.

HDD contracts were also awarded for projects in the oil and gas sector. Contracts for drilling on Gorgon Island and associated works are being completed. The sector looks forward to more of this going forward.

It is pleasing that asset owners (such as the Water Corporation and Main Roads) in WA have instigated the staged requirement to have trained and qualified staff in the trenchless sector within their procurement contracts. This will ensure traineeships under the Australian Qualifications Framework in both the Civil Construction and the Drilling sector AQF will be taken up for the future.

Whilst 2010 was still a difficult period for the civil construction sector generally, including trenchless, the prospects do look brighter for 2011.

South Australia

SA Water drives a considerable volume of the trenchless works being carried out in South Australia.

A new CCTV program has been awarded to Rangedale that utilises IBAK pan and tilt camera to survey 150 km of sewer mains over 2 years. The digital video recordings are classified in accordance with WSA-05 Conduit Inspection Reporting Code.

As a result of the CCTV program, relining of approximately 8 km of wastewater mains, primarily reinforced concrete gravity mains ranging in size from 150 to 600 mm diameter was undertaken in 2009-10. The majority of these mains were rehabilitated using spiral wound liners. CIPP was used to rehabilitate several oviform sewers, and pipe bursting was used to replace one section of VC main structurally damaged by tree root intrusion. As part of sewer extensions in the Adelaide Hills and sewer main relays, directional drilling has been used for both sewer pumping and gravity sewers using locally-based contractors. Pipe diameters are at the smaller end of the PE range and generally less than 100 m in length.

Trenchless technologies have also been used for sewer and gravity main crossings of major roadways, railways and creek crossings.

In the past year, Trenchless Technology has also been extensively used in the rehabilitation and maintenance of existing water mains. This includes various minor HDD and directional boring works on projects for road crossings, railway crossings, creek crossings or to minimise social and environmental impacts that would otherwise result with open cut excavations. These water main extensions vary from 20-30 m to several hundred metres, in pipe diameters ranging from 63 PE up to 450 PE.

The Adelaide Desalination Plant intake and outfall pipelines were completed using two 150 tonne tunnel boring machines to install the 1.5 km intake and 1 km outlet tunnels.

A project to swage line approximately 4.8 km of 600 mm diameter mild steel concrete lined in situ water main commenced in 2010. The existing 600 mm water main is located along one of Adelaide’s busiest roads and is due for completion in early 2011.

The Glenelg to Adelaide Parklands project is to provide more than 3.8 billion litres of high quality recycled water annually to irrigate the Adelaide Parklands through a 32 km pipeline network. It will be piped underground from Glenelg to the Adelaide Parklands and CBD, reducing Adelaide’s dependence on other water sources, including the River Murray. A combination of HDD, microtunelling, pipe jacking and auger boring was used for major road crossings, railway line crossings and other areas where conventional open cut techniques would have presented significant construction problems. Directional drilling was also used to connect a DN225 PE100 PN12.5 recycled water main to SA Water’s building in the central CBD.


Trenchless Technology in Victoria continued to steadily grow throughout 2010. The focus on water shortages and leakage reduction has continued, however with the breaking drought and various natural disasters, the focus has changed to drainage waste water.

The large scale infrastructure projects commenced a number of years ago now, such as the Desalination Plant, Melbourne Main Sewer Replacement and Northern Sewerage Project are all in progress and expected to be completed shortly.

It is expected that investment in infrastructure will continue in the foreseeable future given the Victorian Government’s predictions for growth – Victoria’s population is projected to reach 6.6 million people by 2051, an increase of 1.5 million people.

Given the expected population growth, existing infrastructure will be placed under greater pressure requiring increased expenditure by asset owners to ensure service targets are met. It is expected that growth in trenchless solutions will be a necessary part of any investment programs to ensure disruption is minimised.


Sewer rehabilitation across Victoria continues to be predominantly via trenchless methods.

Water Authorities in Victoria have increased expenditure during 2010-11 and are spending in excess of $60 million per annum on trenchless sewer rehabilitation ,mainly in the diameter range 150-900 mm.

Water main renewals using the semi-trenchless method of pipe bursting have grown throughout 2010 and this technique is becoming the routine renewal method rather than the exception. In metropolitan Melbourne, between 80-90 per cent of water main renewals are undertaken in this way, especially in reticulation diameters (100-225 mm).

In regional Victoria, there are more and more authorities looking at term contracts inclusive of pipe bursting as a routine renewal method, and generally, more regional authorities are investigating trenchless and semi- trenchless options. It is expected that growth in trenchless methods will continue.

A number of recent tenders have been advertised for larger diameter water main renewal projects in inner city areas and it is expected that construction will be via a number of techniques ranging from microtunnelling, directional drilling, close fit lining and sliplining. More and more projects using these techniques are emerging due to the costs of reinstating other infrastructure and private property associated with open cut techniques.

New infrastructure

New high profile projects in the rail and road sectors are planned that will continue to see the commencement of new tunnelling projects. Smaller scale trenchless projects are also expected as part of the current program of infrastructure investment. The trend towards joint ventures and alliances to enable the delivery of large capital programs is expected to continue.

Challenges for 2011

In the lead up to the national conference in Brisbane this year, it is important to remind people of the benefits of attending to ensure a strong participation from Victorian members and practitioners.


Sadly in 2011, Queensland has been ravaged by natural disasters that have seen 70 of 73 local government areas declared disaster zones. Outcomes for the utilities industries have been resurrection of destroyed and damaged infrastructure and delays in capital and recurrent projects.

However, with new flood levels and old pipelines now washed away, activities in trenchless will increase to ensure resilience of infrastructure to similar and greater flood impacts. Creek and river crossings are destined to go well underground and the debate about electricity continues.

In the midst of all this, Brisbane is preparing for the 2011 No-Dig Down Under event, and has proposed a keynote speaker on the flood from an engineering- infrastructure point of view. Flood proofing is high on the governments and utilities agenda and ASTT can develop this theme with suitable technical papers/speakers as a lot of our pipelines survived and delivered essential services.

New Zealand

2010, particularly the last half, has been a challenging economic time for the trenchless industry. However, despite the difficult environment, there have been a number of positive achievements and initiatives that have taken place in New Zealand. Some of these include:

New Zealand Trenchless Technology Forums: we have continued and expanded the NZ Trenchless Technology Forums – half day events open to members of the ASTT and others who have involvement or interest in the trenchless industry. At each forum, at least four industry speakers present trenchless project case studies, discussing a new technology or other topical/technical issues related to the trenchless industry.

Dedicated ASTT Trenchless Technology Stream at the WaterNZ Conference: an ASTT technical paper stream was hosted at the WaterNZ (formally the NZWWA) Conference in Christchurch in September 2010. The technical paper stream was a very well attended stream, and WaterNZ have committed to continue to incorporate this stream biannually at the request of the ASTT.

Continuing involvement in qualification development: the ASTT has maintained an ongoing representative role with Infratrain, (Infrastructure Industry Training Organisation), promoting the HDD qualification framework. The ASTT has endorsed the HDD qualification and the ASTT logo appears on the training work book. The ASTT is also playing a role as a member on Industry Advisory Groups (IAG), reviewing the water reticulation and infrastructure pipe laying qualifications.

Trenchless Technology in the earthquake recovery: following the earthquake in Canterbury in September, Trenchless Technology played a significant role in the speed of the emergency recovery and the affordability of the repairs to the Waimakariri District Council wastewater network. 113 CIPP patches were installed in the network to return the wastewater services to the occupied properties in the Town of Kaiapoi and surrounds within six weeks of the earthquake. The sewers in Kaiapoi and the other nearby affected towns are typically deep, in silty sand, with a high ground water table. The cost of open excavation repairs is very expensive and rather slow. The use of Trenchless Technology provided a faster and cheaper option of emergency repair. Now that the network is up and running, tenders are now out for the rehabilitation of the first lines using Trenchless Technology as part of the long-term recovery effort. Although Waimakariri District has made good use of Trenchless Technology, Christchurch is yet to follow in the same footsteps.

Rosedale Tunnel and Outfall: this $NZ116 million development, the North Shore’s largest-ever capital works project, involved replacing a pipeline built in 1962 which carried treated effluent from the Rosedale Treatment Plant to a discharge point 600 metres offshore from Castor Bay. The new tunnel and outfall now carries the treated effluent from the treatment plant to Mairangi Bay along a 3 km underground tunnel, and then it is pushed a further 2.1 km offshore through the new outfall pipeline, where it is dispersed deep in the Rangitoto Channel.

New technology: 2010 saw the introduction of new technology and materials into the New Zealand marketplace, enabling projects to be undertaken that conventionally would have been difficult to undertake. These include fusible PVC, rock drills and pressure liners.

Although the current environment of the industry is difficult, the overall long-term outlook for Trenchless Technology in New Zealand is expected to be better. There are opportunities for organisations to offer innovative solutions to significant infrastructure problems that could place Trenchless Technology very much in the “÷spotlight’. For many, it is a case of prevailing until the opportunities can be taken seized upon. In particular, opportunities will present themselves in providing solutions for the recovery of Canterbury and the rehabilitation of pressure pipes, and the roll-out of the new ducting for broadband fibre cable.

National update

The national report focused largely on the positive flow-on effects recent and upcoming events will have on the industry. Notably, the first-ever ASTT Trenchless Live event, organised by Great Southern Press and staged in Coffs Harbour, was declared a resounding success.

In all, some 700 exhibitors, visitors and delegates attended the event over the three days. Over the course of the event, the program and the weather delivered precisely what it set out to do, and it is likely that this style of event will now be held biannually.

The ASTT is now looking ahead to the 2011 No-Dig Live event, which is being held in Brisbane from 3-6 October 2011. In what is shaping up to be an exciting time for the industry, this event is a must attend for anyone involved with the procurement, use or development of Trenchless Technology.

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