City of Waterloo’s Black Pipe Problem Gives Birth to CATT

Innovation drives what we do and it drives the improvement of life across the continent. Look at Thomas Edison, Henry Ford or Charles E. Saunders: all saw areas in life where improvement was needed and imagining life without any of their advancements would be difficult.

It is that drive to be innovative and find a better way of doing things that led to the formation of the Centre for Advancement of Trenchless Technologies (CATT) in Waterloo, Ontario in 1994.
A few years prior to that, the City of Waterloo realized that residents were having some serious problems with black bitumen pipe sewer laterals. The pipe, which the City began installing in the 1960s, in some instances started showing signs of failure in 10 years and city officials noticed the failure rate accelerating in the 1980s.

Looking into the matter, city officials estimated that there were 4,500 to 6,000 black pipe laterals throughout the City and because they approved the use of the black pipe, the City agreed to fix them for the residents. Each job cost $6,500 to complete using methods that are more traditional and it worked.

“Out of that, the City came to the University of Waterloo and said, ‘Listen, this is costing us a fortune, there’s got to be a better way to do this.’,” said Mark Knight, executive director of CATT and a professor of engineering at the University of Waterloo.

“We knew we had a liability and if we kept using the traditional methods for this, which were working fine for us, it was going to cost us a lot of money. And because it required digging up their lawn or driveway, people would complain,” said Bill Garibaldi, deputy commissioner of Integrated Planning and Public Works for the City of Waterloo.

The year was 1994 and prompted by the City’s request, the University looked into less expensive ways to repair the laterals. University members asked around, could not find a suitable alternative and contacted the National Research Council Canada (NRC) for assistance.

After some searching, the groups found TRS Pipe Bursting of Calgary, Alberta, which had the ability to repair the laterals at $4,500 using pipe bursting. With approximately 2,000 laterals left to replace, the $2,000 savings translates to an estimated $4 million in savings.

According to Garibaldi, TRS completed three of the 10 laterals in the initial trial and the process was not working well. The City, he said, saw promise in the method and encouraged TRS to proceed, which it did.

The Centre for Advancement of Trenchless Technologies at the University of Waterloo conducts research and tests trenchless methods in an effort to educate and advance the entire trenchless industry.
The Centre for Advancement of Trenchless Technologies (CATT) at the University of Waterloo conducts research and tests trenchless methods in an effort to educate and advance the entire trenchless industry.

CATT Partnership Born

Out of that initial project, a partnership, with seed money from the City, the University, NRC and 25 other members that encompassed municipalities, as well as companies involved in the trenchless industry, CATT was born.

In 1996, the center received its accreditation from the university as a research center, an honor Knight says, that legitimized the work CATT does.

One of the people involved with CATT from those early stages was Garibaldi, who at that time, was one of the City’s representatives to CATT. He said in those early years of trenchless technology, municipalities were being scared into traditional construction methods.

Lest you think it was the traditional contractors doing the scaring, Garibaldi has a different take.
“They were being scared by the trenchless technology providers, to be honest. The traditional technology people weren’t badmouthing anybody because they were still getting 95 percent of the business,” he said. “But the trenchless providers were badmouthing each other for that 5 percent of the business.”

The badmouthing was not contained to Canada but across North America, with contractors going back and forth about the failures of one method over another.

“It was the early days of the technology and there were failures. From a municipality standpoint, you don’t want to be the failure,” Garibaldi said. “You don’t want to be the one that causes a problem. It was much easier to do traditionally unless there was a real problem you couldn’t avoid.”

As CATT grew, so did the industry, partially aided by CATT and the work it does to not only promote the industry but also validate its products.

“The best thing for us is that we’ve been able to work this combination between industry, the University and municipalities to allow us to pilot technology and allow us to put together projects in combination with other municipalities,” Garibaldi said. “That allows the municipality to move into something and learn about something with very little risk and also monitoring results from a technical standpoint so we know what we’ve gotten when we’re finished.”

This particular service is good for not only municipalities but also the businesses that work in the trenchless industry, like Kingsville, Ontario-based LiquiForce.

When CATT got its start in 1994, the trenchless industry in North America was in its infancy. By working with academia, municipalities and companies, CATT has helped the industry prosper in Canada and the United States.
When CATT got its start in 1994, the trenchless industry in North America was in its infancy. By working with academia, municipalities and companies, CATT has helped the industry prosper in Canada and the United States.

Growing an Industry

LiquiForce chairman and CEO Kim K. Lewis said his involvement with CATT was out of necessity because the use of trenchless technologies in North America was in its infancy.

“When we started this in the 1990s, there was no industry. There was nothing,” Lewis said of the state of the trenchless industry in North America. “I had to find a vehicle to grow the industry. I couldn’t do it all by myself.”

To this day, nearly 20 years later, Lewis said that there are still many who are unaware of the trenchless industry and the benefits it can offer. Though Lewis says the company built a good reputation that stretches across the continent, potential customers both private and public are still wary of trenchless projects.

CATT’s third-party testing proves that a product or method meets certain design criteria and as Lewis puts it, proves that what LiquiForce is putting in the ground via trenchless installations lasts as long as a brand new pipe.

“They (the customer) know that this is good stuff and not just because Kim Lewis and LiquiForce say it’s good stuff,” said Lewis, who is also the CATT Membership Committee co-chair. “CATT just gives us someone to lean on and help with tough questions and provide municipalities the comfort they need to make a large investment in tech that is not brand new but it’s newer than the old methods of digging a whole street.”

Lewis added, “The greatest thing they’ve done is the credentialing and they prove the products work.”

Education Is Key

Proving that projects using trenchless methods are just as good as open trench methods and that products work is one thing but that means nothing if municipalities are not educated.
CATT’s educational offerings are two-fold.

Across Canada, CATT and members like LiquiForce seize any opportunity to teach municipalities and other customers about trenchless and with its affiliation with the University of Waterloo, students leaving the University will have had an opportunity to learn about trenchless technologies and go forth to spread the trenchless message.

“When something presents itself to you that you are not completely familiar with, the first thing that you look at is the education element and upgrading your knowledge about what is this new technology,” said Jonathan Pearce, chairman of CATT’s board of directors. “That’s been a driving force in the mandate of CATT and one of the thing it prides itself on and I think we do it very well.”

Like Lewis, Pearce, trenchless construction inspector and project manager for the City of Waterloo, said this educational aspect helps grow the industry.

“If you go back to a basic premise: If you have a toolbox, various trenchless methodologies just help to make your toolbox bigger so when you are presented with a problem you have a greater selection of choices,” Pearce said. “Having this knowledge; that helps municipalities to make wise and prudent choices.”

Just like anything else, the more education is the key to moving forward and CATT schedules about 10 training courses during the year and Knight estimates that in the last five years, CATT has trained more than 5,000 people and that does not include the biennial Trenchless Technology Road Show.

The Road Show, which began in 2001 as a partnership between CATT and Benjamin Media, Trenchless Technology magazine’s parent company, takes place this year from May 28-29 with pre-conference and short courses scheduled for May 27, at the ScotiaBank Convention Centre in Niagara Falls, Ontario.

The Road Show is the largest trenchless-specific conference in Canada and the second largest in all of North America after the North American Society for Trenchless Technology’s (NASTT) No-Dig Show.
Speaking of NASTT, and furthering the discussion on CATT’s educational mission, it is credited with developing NASTT’s Cured-in-Place-Pipe (CIPP) Good Practices Course, as well as NASTT’s CIPP Good Practices Manual.

University of Waterloo graduate students, working with CATT, created the BoreAid Horizontal Directional Drilling computer software. Vermeer, as of fall 2013, owns and supports the software used across the globe by those in the HDD field.

Also on the list of accomplishments for CATT: original research on the behavior of polyethylene pipe during directional drilling, creating one of the first calculators that looked at trenchless projects and greenhouse gas emissions and continued testing of CIPP lining materials to name a few.

CATT Knight and Pearce

Spreading the Message

Knight was happy to report that CATT has some notable alumni working for some of the leaders in the trenchless field.

Glenn Duyvestyn, senior associate and principal project manager for Hatch Mott MacDonald, Knight says is working on amazing trenchless projects around the world including the Trenchless Technology 2013 New Installation Project of the Year-winning Empire Connector Extension project in Pennsylvania and New York.

Also with Hatch Mott MacDonald is Marc Gelinas, senior project engineer, who worked on the Trenchless Technology 2013 News Installation Runner-up Keswick Water Pollution Control Plant Effluent Outfall project

In the world of academia, Knight praised Alireza Bayat, assistant professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Alberta. Bayat is director of the Consortium for Engineered Trenchless Technologies, a center dedicated to the advancement of trenchless technologies, which Knight credits Bayat with starting.

Also on the list of CATT alumni in the academic world is Sunil K. Sinha, associate professor of construction engineering and management at Virginia Tech.

Rounding out Knight’s list is a figure known to everyone in the trenchless world, not just in North America. Dr. Sam Ariaratnam, former chair of the International Society for Trenchless Technology (ISTT), is a University of Waterloo graduate and is a strong supporter and researcher in the trenchless field. Dr. Sam, as he is commonly known, is the 2012 Trenchless Technology Person of the Year and a professor in the Del E. Webb School of Construction at Arizona State University.

To maintain its status as an accredited research center, every five years, CATT presents a five-year plan and reports the accomplishments of the previous five-year cycle to the University of Waterloo senate.

On the Horizon

In addition to its training sessions and work for trenchless contractors, there is a pair of projects on the plate for the next several years that Knight says will have great implications on the trenchless industry in North America.

CATT and the Water Research Foundation recently signed an agreement that has CATT working on the development of a standardized water main defect coding and condition rating system. Knight estimates the study will take two-and-half years to complete and it will be similar to a system the Water Research Council (WRc) in the UK created for sewer systems.

“If we’re successful, hopefully it will be a standard that can be used across North America for water pipes,” Knight said.

The other project, he billed as a potential “game-changer” for the water main relining industry.

The study, on behalf of Bracebridge, Ontario-based Envirologics Engineering Inc., looks at the company’s patent-pending Tomahawk System, which uses rocks to clean deteriorated and rusty pipes and then coats the pipe wall with a polymer lining.

The key, Knight said is that the process, if successful, promises a same-day return to service without the need to bypass, a big plus considering approximately 30 percent of the cost of a water main rehab project goes to bypassing.

One item on the horizon that Knight did not mention but Lewis was quick to point out when discussing CATT’s contributions to the industry is Knight’s work with the Ontario provincial government.

“The single best thing that is happening now is the voice of CATT in the halls of government to show there is an alternative and a quicker way to sustainability,” Lewis said. “I’m very thankful and appreciative to the University of Waterloo and Dr. Mark Knight and all of the members that get involved. Jonathan Pearce who does a lot work for the training. I’m really thankful for the quality people who they have and for helping to continually elevate our industry in the eyes of the government and the municipalities so that we can do something good.”

Lewis added, “It’s not any different than what is going on in the health care industry today. Before they had to cut you open to fix your heart, now they can do a lot of it with non-invasive procedures. That’s the things that we’re doing, constant, constant, constant innovation and CATT helps us with innovation. Many good things are coming from it. That makes us happy and we are making a difference that makes us feel good.”

Mike Kezdi is an assistant editor for Trenchless Technology Canada.