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Veolia: Leading the way in ecological transformation

Veolia’s water division comprises over 830 employees across Australia and New Zealand. Chief Operating Officer for Water Daniel Spiller says ecological transformation is at the core of the company’s modus operandi. 

“We believe there is a global climate emergency, and that it is the responsibility of companies such as ours to lead the way in practical solutions to that emergency. This is what we term in our mission statement as ecological transformation,” says Spiller. 

“Within the water space, there is a real challenge of an ageing asset base, with many pipes constructed in the early 20th century now reaching the end of their service life. From our perspective, there is a real element of ecological transformation in getting the most out of those assets and sustaining them for as long as we possibly can.” 

Veolia offers clients a full suite of services, from analysing the client’s product, to understanding their needs, assessing the infrastructure they have, then working through the lifecycle of the potential interventions to water infrastructure. 

Building off its experience in water management and infrastructure, Veolia secured a contract with Goulburn Valley Water (GVW) for its water main renewal program. 

GVW has a rolling program to replace ageing infrastructure susceptible to ground movement and cracks leading to leaks. Water main replacement is an ongoing asset management program designed to ensure continuity of supply and a high level of service. 

The program is part of GVW’s five-year Price Plan outlined to the Essential Services Commission, with more than $11million spent upgrading water mains during the 2018 to 2023 period, replacing more than 25 km of ageing infrastructure. 

New water mains are being constructed from a selection of modern pipe materials such as plasticised polyvinyl chloride (PVC), high density polyethylene (HDPE) and ductile iron. HDPE in particular has greater reliability, is recyclable and is generally more eco-friendly. 

Veolia Project Manager (Network Services Victoria) Meedo Abbas says the company has been delivering its water renewal program to GVW since 2018 and has had a strong focus on using trenchless technology for projects. 

“One of the projects has been delivered through trenchless technology using horizontal directional drilling (HDD), pipe jacking, microtunnelling and slip lining,” Abbas says. 

“This was a very complex job involving a number of stakeholders and requiring permits and approvals to proceed. The job had been in the planning for a number of years.” 

Abbas says the water main being replaced by Veolia, located in Wandong on Rail Street, had previously recorded 10 bursts, two within the last three years. 

Veolia says one of the key challenges to address was due to the works involving crossing the railway line near the Wandong Railway Station. The rail line is the main line between Melbourne and Sydney, and VicTrack, VLine and ARTC had to endorse any designs and project management plans, adding to the complexity of the job.

ARTC was also planning to upgrade the bridge where the trains cross causing further challenges for Veolia and GVW’s approval process. However, after intensive liaising between all stakeholders and designers, Veolia successfully secured a final proposal with the acceptance of an offset pipeline. 

“The job involved using two types of trenchless technology – microtunnelling and slip lining technology to bore under the track lines,” Abbas says. “Totalling about 42 metres, we bored and installed a MSCL sleeve and slip line to the new HDPE water main inside it.”

Abbas says by using HDD, slip lining and microtunnelling technology Veolia was able to minimise impact to the environment and surrounding area, something that is particularly important to the company as it pursues ecological transformation. 

“The reason Veolia is emphasising trenchless methodology for this program is to reduce environmental impact on native vegetation and waterways, and also to reduce the interruption for the customer and community,” he says. 

Daniel Hughes, General Manager of Planning and Assets at GVW, says that the complexity of the work meant that finding a provider able to deliver the project with minimal disruption was particularly important.

“We needed a solution that would enable us to keep our customers in service while minimising impact to the local environment,” Hughes says. “We are pleased with the trenchless technology Veolia brought to the project, enabling us to achieve the goals we set. The open communication approach between our teams has contributed to that success.” 

In order for Veolia to safely undertake the water main work under the rail lines, it had to use two forms of a track protection system to track the trains and monitor the movements of the tracks. 

This included manual surveying of the train tracks and using a new technology called Tiltmetres Monitoring. 

Tiltmetres are smart devices that can be connected to one or more gateways, communicating rail movement in real time to a central server.

For the Wandong Railway Street project, the Tiltmetres were installed on the track every two metres with the data provided to the key stakeholders in real time, increasing at critical phases of the project. 

“As a result, we were able to safely and successfully complete the construction of the project, which took 30 days,” Abbas says. He added that conventional methods weren’t practical with this job as it would have caused unacceptable disruption to train schedules. 

“We were able to provide GVW with a more sustainable and a superior outcome, all whilst minimising disruption to the natural environment and the community,” he says.

For more information visit Veolia. 

This article featured in the June edition of Trenchless Australasia. 

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