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Water Authority Awarded Patent for Pipeline Inspection Tool

The San Diego County Water Authority has been granted its first ever utility patent for a device that inspects interior sections of water pipelines that are inaccessible or not safe to inspect without expensive specialized gear and training.

Water Authority Operations and Maintenance Manager Martin Coghill invented the tool to save time, reduce costs and improve safety during ongoing aqueduct inspections. The Water Authority’s industry-leading Asset Management Program includes a proactive search for pipeline weaknesses that can be addressed before they become large and costly problems.

Water Authority Awarded Patent for Pipeline Inspection Tool

The San Diego County Water Authority has been granted its first ever utility patent for a device that inspects interior sections of water pipelines that are inaccessible or not safe to inspect without expensive specialized gear and training.

Water Authority Operations and Maintenance Manager Martin Coghill invented the tool to save time, reduce costs and improve safety during ongoing aqueduct inspections. The Water Authority’s industry-leading Asset Management Program includes a proactive search for pipeline weaknesses that can be addressed before they become large and costly problems.

 

Utility Patent-Pipeline Inspection Tool-

Water Authority Awarded Patent for Pipeline Inspection Tool

The San Diego County Water Authority has been granted its first ever utility patent for a device that inspects interior sections of water pipelines that are inaccessible or not safe to inspect without expensive specialized gear and training.

Water Authority Operations and Maintenance Manager Martin Coghill invented the tool to save time, reduce costs and improve safety during ongoing aqueduct inspections. The Water Authority’s industry-leading Asset Management Program includes a proactive search for pipeline weaknesses that can be addressed before they become large and costly problems.

Patent for pipeline inspection system

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office awarded Patent #US011,293,581 on April 5, 2022, for the Water Authority’s pipeline inspection system, which comprises a body, cameras, support members and light sources to capture high-resolution images of pipeline walls.

Innovation benefits water ratepayers

“This new pipeline inspection tool is a prime example of the Water Authority’s commitment to innovation that benefits ratepayers by saving money and enhancing reliability,” said Water Authority General Manager Sandra L. Kerl. “We have a long history of advancing industry-leading solutions, from state legislation to adopt low-flow toilets in the early 1990s to the nation’s largest water conservation-and-transfer program a decade later to the largest seawater desalination plant on the continent.”

The Water Authority operates and maintains a water delivery system capable of delivering more than 900 million gallons of water per day through 310 miles of large-diameter pipeline, 1,600 aqueduct-related structures, and approximately 100 metering/flow control facilities. It also includes a state-of-the-art water treatment plant, hydroelectric facilities, pump stations, flow regulatory structures, and reservoirs that store water for emergencies and dry years.

Scanny-patent-innovation-

The inspection tool uses commercially available lightweight adventure cameras and lights that are arranged in a unique way on a chassis that moves through pipelines that are 4 to 9 feet in diameter. Photo: San Diego County Water Authority

New pipeline inspection tool part of high-tech toolkit

The Water Authority uses a combination of technologies for monitoring pipelines, including electromagnetic scanning, which detects and locates damaged areas within pipeline walls, and real-time acoustic fiber-optic monitoring, which can detect and locate distressed pipelines while they are in service. The technology invented by Coghill is just a small part of an expansive toolkit.

The Water Authority applied for the patent on June 13, 2019, and spent nearly three years completing the complex process. The patent assigns the intellectual property rights to the Water Authority, allowing it to freely use the technology and share it with other water utilities that might also benefit from its use.

The inspection tool uses commercially available lightweight adventure cameras and lights that are arranged in a unique way on a chassis that moves through pipelines that are 4 to 9 feet in diameter, said Coghill, who has worked for the agency since 2013.

Video of “Scanny” from January 29, 2019

High-resolution imaging

“This technology was created in-house out of necessity to improve safety while inspecting steep portions of our aqueduct,” said Coghill. “The array of multiple cameras enables high-resolution imaging, and the unique design keeps the cameras oriented in the correct position relative to the pipe.”

Coghill, who affectionately calls the tool “Scanny,” said the camera array can also be added to any existing pipeline assessment equipment and offers much higher resolution than traditional CCTV. In addition to inspecting unsafe and inaccessible portions of pipelines, the tool’s design means the Water Authority no longer needs to use specialized third-party rope support crews to assist with pipe inspections. A bonus feature of the device is the ability to stitch the video files together for an immersive 360-degree virtual reality experience. He said it’s always fun to take people into the pipe by just putting on VR goggles.

The Water Authority will continue to use its patented technology to benefit water ratepayers and the safety of employees.

The complete patent is posted on the U.S Patent and Trademark Office website: https://bit.ly/3vGEk0I.

Pipleline 4 repair in March 2022 saved money for San Diego County water ratepayers

Asset Management: Successful Pipeline Repair 4 Project in San Diego

Tens of millions of gallons of water are flowing through a major pipeline in North San Diego County after successful repairs on a distressed section of Pipeline 4. The urgent repair project is a testament to the San Diego County Water Authority’s proactive Asset Management Program, which helps maintain water supply reliability while saving ratepayers money. The pipeline near Bonsall, returned to service in March, after a 10-day shutdown.

High-tech asset management program

Water Authority staff detected potential pipeline weaknesses just north of West Lilac Road in January using real-time acoustic fiber-optic monitoring. This technology locates distressed sections of pipelines even while they are in use as part of the agency’s high-tech asset management program.

As a result of the frequency or rate of change of wire breaks, Water Authority staff began preparing in late January for a 10-day shutdown to replace two distressed sections of pipe.

Preparations included:

  • Coordination with member agencies
  • Meeting with affected homeowners in the vicinity of the work
  • Preparing for the aqueduct shutdown
  • Completing engineering design for the pipe replacement; and
  • Procuring a contractor to complete the repair

Asset Management-Pipeline 4-infrastructure

The pipe was delivered on February 28.

Asset Management-Pipeline 4-March 2022

The pipeline was shutdown March 1.

Asset Management-Pipeline 4-Urgent Repair

By that evening, the pipe was nearly excavated.

Asset Management-Pipeline 4-March 2022

The next morning, March 2, the Water Authority asset management team performed

an evaluation of the wire breaks.

Asset management-Pipeline 4-March 2022

After the inspection, the installation of the new steel pipe started, including rebar

work for the concrete encasement. On March 5, the contractor poured 12 truckloads of concrete for the encasement.

Pipeline 4 March 2022

Once the pipeline replacement work was completed, crews

took a final walk through of the pipe in preparation of refill.

Maintenance crews reset a blowoff valve assembly that was removed for access to the pipeline.

P4 work completed after 10 day shutdown-March 2022

By the last day of the 10-day shutdown, the contractor had pulled the shoring and was completing backfill, allowing the pipeline to be put back into operation according to schedule.

Asset management team saves ratepayers money

Pipeline 4 repair work included collaboration with five North County member agencies served by the pipeline, and operations staff from throughout San Diego County, which helped plan and execute the timely completion of the repair.

The asset management team uses the latest inspection technologies to detect age-related defects that might be occurring on pipelines and other water conveyance facilities. By identifying defects early, they can often be corrected using localized, low-cost repair methods prior to them becoming larger, more costly issues.

The Water Authority operates and maintains a regional water delivery system capable of delivering more than 900 million gallons of water per day. The system consists of 310 miles of large-diameter pipeline, 1,600 aqueduct-related structures, and approximately 100 metering/flow control facilities.

Essential Repairs Completed on Pipeline 5 in North County

The San Diego County Water Authority and its contractors have completed essential repairs on a section of Pipeline 5 in North San Diego County between Fallbrook and Escondido. The repairs included installing 156 feet of carbon fiber liner inside the 96-inch pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe to extend its service life. The pipeline was returned to normal service over the weekend – ahead of the original schedule.

Essential Repairs Completed on Pipeline 5 in North County

The San Diego County Water Authority and its contractors have completed essential repairs on a section of Pipeline 5 in North San Diego County between Fallbrook and Escondido. The repairs included installing 156 feet of carbon fiber liner inside the 96-inch pre-stressed concrete cylinder pipe to extend its service life. The pipeline was returned to normal service over the weekend – ahead of the original schedule.

Cutting-edge technology improves pipeline structure

The lining for Pipeline 5 is a material made from layers of carbon and glass fibers combined with polymers that are engineered to efficiently and effectively improve the structural integrity of large-diameter pipelines.

“The timely upgrade to this section of Pipeline 5 is part of the Water Authority’s proactive asset management program,” said Jim Fisher, director of operations and maintenance at the Water Authority. “A key element of providing a safe and reliable water supplies is continually assessing our 310 miles of large-diameter pipeline and making the upgrades necessary to continue serving the region.”

The essential repairs followed similar repairs on nearby Pipeline 4 last year. The Pipeline 5 project started in early April, about the time most Water Authority employees transitioned to working at home due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The crews adapted quickly to implement safeguards to protect their health while moving forward with the critical repairs,” said Peter Milligan, engineer at the Water Authority. “We made sure to limit the number of people on-site, wear masks, and maintain a safe physical distance inside where possible.”

Proactive asset management program maintains critical water infrastructure

The asset management program uses cutting-edge technologies, like carbon fiber lining, to monitor and maintain the condition of important regional water infrastructure. Making preventative repairs ensures that regional water service will continue uninterrupted.

Pipeline 5 was built in 1982 and is part of the Water Authority’s Second Aqueduct, which consists of Pipelines 3, 4 and 5. Along with Pipeline 3, Pipeline 5 delivers untreated water from Lake Skinner in southwest Riverside County to the Lower Otay Water Treatment Plant in southern San Diego County.

An analysis to determine a long-term solution to maintain the Second Aqueduct in North San Diego County is underway.

Pipeline 5 Upgrades in North San Diego County Halfway Complete

This week, crews are installing a carbon fiber lining inside Pipeline 5 in North San Diego County between Fallbrook and Escondido. The work is essential to maintain the 96-inch pipeline that delivers untreated water from Lake Skinner in southwest Riverside County to the Lower Otay Water Treatment Plant in southern San Diego County.

The work began at the end of March when Pipeline 5 was shut down for the installation of two internal steel bulkheads. The bulkheads allow the rest of the pipeline to stay in service while work is performed in an isolated section.

“Ensuring that water supplies continue to be reliable for all of the region’s 3.3 million residents and businesses is our priority,” said Jim Fisher, director of operations and maintenance at the Water Authority. “We are performing this essential repair to one of our largest pipelines to make sure that there are no interruptions in service to our member agencies.”

Water Authority Begins Pipeline 5 Repairs in North San Diego County

Next week, San Diego County Water Authority staff and contractors will begin crucial repairs on Pipeline 5 in rural North County between Fallbrook and Escondido.

The work is part of the Water Authority’s proactive asset management program, which monitors and maintains the condition of regional water infrastructure that includes 310 miles of large-diameter pipelines. The Water Authority’s approach, coordinated closely with its member agencies, has served the region well by avoiding large-scale, unexpected water outages for more than a decade.