You may have been a little surprised with the size and, perhaps, the weight of the package you have received today. Included with your magazine, a copy of a special publication titled “The Tiny Drop Crosses the Globe,” which features a cartoon heroine whose adventures are now read to children in Poland, Denmark and Sweden, in their native languages.

What does a cartoon for children have to do with clean water and trenchless technology?
It is no surprise that an ecological consciousness is strongly exposed and stressed in that part of Europe. It should also be stated that in Poland, Denmark and Sweden, The Aarsleff Group, a world leader in foundation engineering and pipe rehabilitation, has been active in providing support for educational activities among pre-school children and younger students with regards to water ecology. The very idea of writing and editing a rhymed, color-illustrated story about water circulation came about nearly 10 years ago in Bytom, Poland, a town of mines and steelworks.

As with most large industrial centers, its inhabitants are exposed to air and water contamination. It is in these areas where the conscious need for ecological education of the youngest inhabitants is at its strongest. Understanding this need, The Aarsleff Group and the Bytom Municipal Co. (water suppliers) set out to reach this group and educate them on the importance of clean water. The two companies collaborated on a joint publication of a cartoon — “The Tiny Drop Crosses the Globe” — and distributed it in the industrial region of Silesia. Success here led to the publication’s distribution throughout Poland.

Today, Bytomskie Przedsiebiorstwo Komunalne (Bytom Municipal Co.) and Aarsleff distribute thousands of copies of  “The Tiny Drop” free-of-charge.  The biggest group recipients were among the municipal companies but many pro-ecological projects and performances have also been organized by local governments and their subdivisions that are active in education. I have personally had several occasions to applaud the efforts of the young readers, already fully aware of the necessity to economize water and maintain its purity.

The success of a cartoon philosophy was deeply appreciated by our partners from The Aarsleff Group in Scandinavia, which translated “The Tiny Drop” into Danish and Swedish. More than 20,000 copies were distributed, in cooperation with many local elementary schools.  None of this would be possible without the deep enthusiasm and dedication to the issue of water from the teachers and school administrators. I would like to thank one of them, Justyna Najdowska, who teaches kindergarten at Maly Poliglota in Bydgoszcz, Poland. It was she who translated the rhymes for “The Tiny Drop Crosses the Globe,” which you have in your hands at this moment.

Trenchless Promoters
There are more difficult challenges ahead for us in getting our important message across. It is our task as “no-diggers” — otherwise known as specialists in trenchless technology — to maintain our reputation as defenders of the natural environment. It is our branch of trenchless technology that enables successful limitation of environmental pollution. It is because of companies like The Aarsleff Group that the repairs and renovations of sewage and water systems take less time and reduce site possession. The possibilities of using trenchless methods to install new pipelines and telecommunication lines, as well as the possibilities of locating and identifying them from the surface, are truly worth the appreciation by municipalities.

I would also like to acknowledge the tremendous contribution to the promotion of trenchless technologies by Trenchless Technology International and its publisher, Bernie Krzys, whom I would like to congratulate on behalf of The Aarsleff Group on his magazine’s recent anniversary. I do it with more satisfaction in that we share Polish roots (let no excavator operator try to dig them out).
 One should remember, however, that knowledge should reach the general public from as many sources as possible. For example, The Aarsleff Group was executing a large rehabilitation project involving a delivery sewage section in Warsaw, Poland, using the cured-in-place pipe (CIPP) method. The end result of the project was acknowledged by ISTT, honoring it with its annual No-Dig Award in 2003. We shared our success with the project owners — the Municipality of Warsaw and the Warsaw Water Supply System — and the experience of that project remained deeply in the project owners’ memory.

During another CIPP project in Warsaw, we had to occupy and work in one of three lanes of a street at various sections. One of the local newspapers wrote that there were difficulties for motorists driving on the narrowed street by a mysterious company, whose powerful trucks and drilling rigs occupied another section of this street every week and … nothing was going on. In his spectacular explanation, the director of the municipal infrastructure department stated that obviously the newspaper was mistaken in its conclusions and the newspaper, instead of criticism, should write its gratitude for use of such a modern technology in this project; the paralysis of the traffic in the main artery of town was avoided and this method of rehabilitation eliminated the need to dig extensive and intrusive trenches, forcing traffic diversions. Simultaneously, the director declared his readiness to publish information on similar projects on the municipal Web site.

In fact, our company rehabilitated a 1,500-m long section of an egg-shape sewer channel in a cross-section of 800 mm by 1,200 mm located under a busy street, completing the project within only six weeks. A local television crew that recorded our work was quite interested in “mountains of snow pouring out of the container” during the installation of the sleeve in mid-summer.

From the stories described above, we concluded the following: To inform the public, information must be disseminated in an easily accessible way, using language that is free of technical terminology and jargon and reflects what is actually happening in a positive, optimistic way.

One way The Aarsleff Group has found to communicate the benefits of trenchless technology and water ecology is through its “The Tiny Drop” publication. Here, the message is put to rhymes and illustrated to capture the attention of young readers.

Why a cartoon, you ask? Why not, we say. If the content is accepted by children, then adults will likely read it to their children, thus expanding the adults’ knowledge and interest as well.

A New Cartoon
The Aarsleff Group, taking its leadership role in educating the public about trenchless technology seriously, recently produced a second cartoon publication. Some of you may have already had the opportunity to read it — which perhaps was a bit problematic for some since the cartoon is written in Polish and Danish. A version in English is not yet available.

This new story centers on the adventures of a mole family that is flooded with water from a broken water pipe. The story presents to its readers a plethora of trenchless technologies, including the use of TV inspection, geo-radar, sliplining, thermally harden CIPP sleeves, panels, microtunneling and tunneling. In an effort to introduce the audience to the full gamut of trenchless methods, The Aarsleff Group included in its new publication a depiction of methods that as a company, it does not itself do. We made the decision to include these methods because as a trenchless market leader, we have a responsibility to create interest in all of the methods, not just the ones that we perform, in order to push the industry forward.

Are there any other rehabilitation methods that should be introduced to the public? Are there any other ways to educate the public and promote these technologies? Of course there are. A few years ago while searching for an interesting location to mark the 10th anniversary of a seminar conducted by Aarsleff, I visited the historic Museum in Wilanów Palace in Poland. In talking with museum director Pawel Jaskanis, a discussion developed concerning the museum’s water and sewer problems. Born out of that discussion was a partnership between Aarsleff and the museum that focused on rehabilitating its storm drainage system.

We incorporated the work into our seminar held at the museum, performing trenchless rehabilitation on the damaged sections of the channels under the building. Museum officials were so impressed with the work that was done that we were asked afterward for assistance in tightening their vertical gutter pipes, which in the course of many expansions of the Palace over the years, were left inside of the building. For this job, we applied an original Danish technology of rehabbing vertical pipelines, which allowed for installing sleeves in 12 sections. Each one was about 12 m long and, during the installation, it had to pass three to six curves of 90 degrees, both in the vertical and in horizontal position. We were successful in eliminating leaks from the pipe sections, which caused the wetting of walls and constituted a real risk to the collection of paintings housed in the museum. The Danish technology, used by Aarsleff for many years in rehabbing sewage vertical systems, ventilation channels and roof dewatering, proved to work well and without problems.

So what were the benefits of this partnership with the museum? The end result was that we gained an enthusiastic promoter of trenchless technologies within the museum and monument renovation community. During numerous conferences and seminars since, I had the opportunity to talk to the administrators and managers of historical monuments, as well as the restorers. Their extensive knowledge acquired from their experience with the Museum of Wilanów Palace in the area of trenchless technologies is now translated into recommendations to use the technologies on their current and future projects in the rehabilitation of old Polish town centers.

Other Trenchless Promoters
Another great promoter of trenchless technologies in Poland — though he does not reside in our country — is ISTT executive secretary John Castle, whose ideas were challenging to me and other trenchless enthusiasts. Among the things to thank him for is his help in the development of the Polish Foundation for Trenchless Technology and preparation in developing its affiliation to ISTT. Castle is also aiding in the creation of the Polish version of the Trenchless Technology Guidelines — a professional publication that has contributed to the dissemination of unbiased technical knowledge of trenchless technologies among employees of water and sewage systems and municipal companies.
I encourage you to read “The Tiny Drop Crosses the Globe” and it is our hope that it will inspire your own ideas on how to promote water ecology to the masses. We are deeply convinced that in the future, the image of Poland — the country on Vistula — will be remembered not only as a country of initiative and inventiveness and hard-working people but also as an environmentally friendly country of clean water — thanks to trenchless technology.

Arek Bachan is CEO with Per Aarsleff Polska Ltd.

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