Articles & Case Studies

Seymour Civil Engineering well positioned to work on trunk mains cleansing

Posted: Thursday 21st April 2016

Seymour Civil Engineering is well positioned to make further inroads into trunk mains cleansing as it heads towards the successful completion of a four-year project, carried out on behalf of Northumbrian Water.

Seymour won the tender with Northumbrian Water to carry out maintenance and cleaning of a Victorian trunk main which supplies water to Newcastle, Gateshead, North Tyneside and Northumberland and has invested heavily in specialist equipment to facilitate the project.

The company has a long standing relationship with Northumbrian Water and as the project draws to a close in the next 12 months, Seymour is now in a position to carry out similar works having invested almost £500,000 in bespoke equipment to maintain and clean the large diameter pipes.

Kevin Byrne, Managing Director at Seymour, said: "We are very proud of the work that has been carried out on this project, going right back to the day we won the tender.

"We have had more than 40 staff engaged on the work, and their skills have developed as the project has progressed. It is more mechanical engineering than civil engineering, carrying out pressure testing, analysing the trunk main and using the sampling points to verify that the main is cleaned to specification.

"We invested heavily in equipment, and we have learned a lot along the way which will stand us in good stead for future projects. The specialism we have developed is transferable to other industries, not just water companies. We can get involved from day one, and the closer we are to the front end of design the more effective we are in delivering the project."

Mr Byrne is hoping that the Northumbrian Water project will open the floodgates to further specialist work when it comes to cleansing and repairing trunk mains and said that Seymour Civil Engineering can provide a one-stop shop for similar projects.

Seymour is recognised as one of the North East's leading civil engineering businesses, and employs a workforce in excess of 230 staff.

He added: "Projects like this are huge, and we are faced with lots of complex issues that present themselves. You have to remember that many of these pipes were laid back in Victorian times, some of them are 150 years old. Cities and motorways have been built on top of these piping systems since they were built.

"We have to isolate sections of the pipe to dewater it without causing too much disruption to the customers.

"Once we have excavated one section of pipe, we will get it back up and running and move onto the next section. The harmless sediment which has built up on the walls of the pipe will be removed, eliminating the discolouration issue.

"That's what makes the water supply discoloured sometimes, so it is essential this work is done."

Mr Byrne is full of praise for Northumbrian Water's innovative approach to the work, with hi-tech systems being installed during the project to minimise future disruption.

"It is vital all partners work as a team on things like this," added Kevin.

"Northumbrian Water has been excellent, while we've been doing our job they have completely enhanced the network controllability and they have put a lot of measures in place so the sediment doesn't build up again in future.

"The whole system has been upgraded and modernised, and Northumbrian Water has really grasped the nettle and as a result they are leading the field in projects of this nature.

"Although the customer doesn't see all of this work going on under ground, the minor disruption they have while each section of the pipework is turned off and cleared will ensure they get a first class service for years to come."

To deliver the programme of works Seymour utilised two techniques to clean the pipes - ice pigging and typhoon jetting.

Mr Byrne added: "Using the ice pigging technique, a section of pipe is isolated by turning off valves at each end of the length of pipe to be cleaned. Some water is emptied out to make room for slushy ice which is injected into the pipe.

"The upstream valve is then reopened enabling the water to start flowing again. The pressure of water on either side of the slush compacts the ice and it scrapes the sediment off the pipe walls. The dirty ice is then flushed from the water pipe and the water is sampled and put back into supply.

"We're in an age where we can turn our central heating on from our mobile phones, but this is one of the simplest methods I have ever come across and it is so effective.

"Using ice is much quicker as we don't have to empty the section of pipe we are cleaning, and refill it, as with other cleaning methods.

"It usually takes us a week to clean a one-kilometre section of pipe using 'pressure jetting', it takes just a few hours to clean the same amount of pipe using ice. As well as being more cost effective and less disruptive for Northumbrian Water customers, the process also uses less water than other types of cleaning so it is more environmentally friendly."

As well as trunk cleansing, the firm specialises in drainage, urban renewal projects, restoration and development work as well as sea defence and coastal protection work.

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August 2021

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