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Metro Newsroom

Louisville Water Uses Pipe Diver Technology to Inspect Active Transmission Water Main

Thursday September 22, 2011

Thursday morning, the “PipeDiver”, an electromagnetic tool moved through one of Louisville Water’s largest transmission mains and completed an 8.8 mile inspection of a 60-inch transmission water main.  Click here to see a video clip of the inspection. 

It is the company’s first opportunity to use this innovation for such a large main while it is filled with water. Pure Technologies, the developer of the “PipeDiver” technology, created the device to work inside water mains that were in service.

The inspection began around 9am near Prospect in northeastern Jefferson County as Pure Technologies inserted the device through an access hole atop the 60-inch water main, constructed of pre-stressed concrete. It took five hours for the PipeDiver to travel through the main. Along the route, crews monitored the devices’ progress through a transmitted signal sent from the PipeDiver. Engineers retrieved it at Louisville Water’s English Station Road location.

An electromagnetic device in the PipeDiver produces an audio signal that is analyzed to identify any issues with the wires in the pipe. It takes approximately six weeks to complete the analysis.

Louisville Water has over 4,100 miles of water main in its system; approximately 200 miles is transmission main, pipe that is larger than 20 inches in diameter. Since the 1980s, Louisville Water has had an aggressive program to assess, repair or replace distribution mains (pipes smaller than 20 inches in diameter). The technology to do a more thorough assessment of transmission mains has just developed over the past 10 years.

In the past two years, Louisville Water has performed three robotic inspections on transmission mains that were not in service. The use of the Pipe Diver technology is the first opportunity for an inspection while the main is filled with water and still in service. Inspections, like these, can save money in preventing large water main breaks. Inspecting a pipe while it’s in service also eliminates the need to empty millions of gallons of water from the pipe and interrupt water service.