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Trenchless helps care for NZ water sector

Watercare has been using trenchless technology with an increasing rate on its New Zealand projects.

Trenchless Australasia sat down with Watercare’s John McCann to ask what sparked the company’s interest in non-conventional construction methods, the Watercare’s core values when it comes to infrastructure decisions and the changes in NZ’s water sector as a whole.

Mr McCann is a Projects Manager in Watercare’s construction delivery team where he heads up a team of project managers focused on the successful delivery of water, wastewater and treatment projects across the Auckland region.

The delivery of these projects is often achieved with trenchless technologies, which Watercare has been implementing in its construction works for more than 20 years, often using horizontal directional drilling (HDD) and microtunnelling due to their versatile and cost-effective nature compared to traditional trenching methods.

“The unique Direct Pipe® tunnel boring technology has created more possibilities for installing pipelines at various depths and in different geology,” says Mr McCann.

“We used this methodology for the first time in NZ and Australasia 18 months ago. We are currently close to completing our second wastewater ocean outfall pipe installation using this technology.”

The Direct Pipe® trenchless technique was used on the Army Bay Ocean outfall project by Watercare.

Growing benefits

Mr McCann says Watercare first began using trenchless technologies due to the community benefits they could provide.

“It means we can build below Auckland’s busiest commercial areas, railways, motorways and major regional arterial routes carrying thousands of commuters every day with minimum disruption,” he says.

Watercare has recognised there are even more benefits that come from trenchless technology, such as minimal environmental impact and carbon emission reductions.

“Pipe jacking and microtunnelling are some of the safest and most environmentally friendly underground construction processes,” says Mr McCann.

“Last year we announced our 40:20:20 vision for our infrastructure delivery program. The aim is to reduce carbon in construction by 40 per cent, injuries in construction by 20 per cent year on year, and infrastructure program costs by 20 per cent by 2024. These methods will help us to meet these goals.”

Watercare’s organisational vision is to be ‘trusted by its communities for exceptional performance every day’.

“When it comes to building or upgrading infrastructure, we have to do this in a reliable and cost-effective way so that we can accommodate growth while maintaining service standards and keeping our charges to a minimum,” he says.

“Many factors are considered in the decision-making process including the buildability, potential disruption, public safety and cost.”

A global task

Watercare often uses local contractors and technology from NZ and Australia and also uses innovative technologies from around the world.

“The Central Interceptor wastewater tunnel project is a good example where international experience and technology is being leveraged to help service new growth while also cleaning up the environment,” says Mr McCann.

The Central Interceptor is being constructed by the Ghella Abergeldie Joint Venture (GA), founded in Italy and Australia respectively. Watercare says GA has more than 150 years’ experience with tunnelling and wastewater projects of this size across the globe, making it the suitable contractor to create the super-sized wastewater tunnel that will reduce overflows.

Change for the future

With its reputation of consistent innovation, Watercare recently developed an enterprise model to build and deliver water and wastewater infrastructure more effectively.

Building on its 40:20:20 goal by 2024, the company is working collaboratively with selected contractors to plan and deliver a program of work rather than discrete projects, which will help drive investment and innovation in the industry while also improving cost efficiency.

Mr McCann says the future of NZ’s water sector may see many changes, as 2020 saw Auckland hit by the worst drought on record off the back of a further drought in 2019. Additionally, climate change is likely to deliver more extreme dry periods punctuated by more intensive rainfall events.

“The next decade will continue to see significant investment in the water and wastewater sector with opportunities for innovation that allow cost-effective infrastructure to continue being built while minimising disruption and effects on communities,” he says.

This article was featured in the September 2020 edition of Trenchless Australasia. To view the magazine on your PC, Mac, tablet or mobile device, click here.

For more information visit the Watercare website.

If you have news you would like featured in Trenchless Australasia contact Assistant Editor Sophie Venz at svenz@gs-press.com.au

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