Steam vs. UV: There may be an alternative to the pipe-lining methods DC Water plans for Soapstone sewers | Forest Hills Connection |

by Marlene Berlin

At the public meeting this Wednesday on the Soapstone Valley Sewer Rehabilitation Project, at least one member of the community will ask the National Park Service and DC Water if the work needs to be this invasive.

As described on page 6 of Appendix E, Finding the Results:

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About 6,100 [linear feet] the sanitary sewer pipe infrastructure within the Soapstone Valley sewer system would be rehabilitated using trenchless technology…. Cured-in-Place Pipe (CIPP) is a trenchless rehabilitation technology that involves inserting a resin-impregnated felt liner into the existing or host pipe. This lining is then cured with either water or steam. With this technology, most of the construction work takes place on existing manholes. In view of the location restrictions in the study area, the construction of access routes to certain manholes would be necessary.

The statement also states that pathways are required to access heavy equipment. They will be 16 feet wide, but in some places the paths will be wider than 20 feet to allow maneuvering of the equipment.

Marjorie Share, member of the ANC 3F Parks & Trails Committee, is particularly concerned about the heavy machinery trails and the resulting loss of up to 371 trees. (See page 26 of the environmental assessment “Effects of Alternative 2”)

It’s a little hard to see, but the trees that are about to be removed are marked with pink xs. The project would be limited to the area within the black lines. The purple lines are the trails that exist. Download Appendix B here to view the original image and other maps of the project area.

She knew there had to be a better way. She started digging and came across UV cured piping (UV CIPP) or UV curing. This technology doesn’t require the heavy equipment that the steam and hot water curing method provides, so it has a much smaller footprint in hard-to-reach areas like Soapstone Valley. It can also be a cheaper technology. It is more expensive to do the cleaning for the heavy equipment required for the steam and hot water method.

UV curing was the method used to liner a sewer in Medicine Lake, Minnesota. The project was led by SEH, a Minnesota-owned engineering, architecture, environmental and planning company working on infrastructure projects.

Share contacted Dave Hutton from SEH for more information. I was invited to take part in the conversation.

Hutton informed us that UV curing technology has been used in the US for about 10 years and in Europe, about 20 years after it was developed in Germany. It took the US a lot longer to understand this as trenchless technology (meaning there is no need to dig pipes to replace it).

Hutton said the Medicine Lake project included sewers between the lake and people’s homes. “So it would have been next to impossible to get the steam / hot water equipment back to the manholes,” Hutton said. “The UV curing method and equipment was a great solution to line the sewers in these very difficult conditions. It was the first UV curing liner to be used on a city in Minnesota and I was very impressed with the technology and process and would definitely consider using it again with the right project and circumstances. “

JC Dillon of Peoria, Illinois was the SEH contractor used on the Medicine Lake project. Hutton told us about 10 companies across the country doing this job.

The Soapstone Project public meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 26th, 6pm to 8pm in the Forest Hills of DC Assembly Hall, 4901 Connecticut Avenue. Marjorie Share and others will be excited to see if UV curing or other new technologies could be used at Soapstone Valley.

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