Sussex County Council approved a bid for repairs on Bethany/South Bethany sewer mains at the Feb. 15 council meeting.
While such repairs historically required extensive trenching, new technologies should keep local impacts to a minimum.
According to Julie Cooper, engineer for the project, the liner inside the concrete mains has eroded, but the contractors should only need to dig if the pipes have become misaligned (happens occasionally, but not often).
Rather, the “trenchless” contractors pull a folded piece of PVC through the main, and then pressurize it.
“It expands, seals and then cures,” Cooper explained. Next, a wheeled robot carrying a camera travels through the main, cutting holes to link in the lateral pipes. Another machine follows the robot, spraying grout to seal the connections, and the main is better than new.
“The liners actually work a lot better than the pipe, even though the diameter shrinks,” Cooper pointed out. “It’s not cheap, but it’s less expensive than putting in new pipes.”
Council Member Vance Phillips asked her if she was concerned that the bid had come in lower than the engineering estimates, but Cooper said she’d based that estimate on projects undertaken a few years back.
The county only received a pair of bids per job at that time, but she said there were more companies doing trenchless work now.
County Administrator Bob Stickels said it was good to see seven bidders on a project, and suggested competitiveness had lowered the cost.
The county awarded the $169,000 bid to Allstate Power-Vac. Cooper expected it would take them two or three years to complete work on roughly 4,000 feet of pipe in the Bethany/South Bethany area.
In other business, council unanimously adopted the International Building Code (IBC) and International Residential Code (IRC), as discussed the previous week.
County Building Inspector Van Milligan had petitioned for inclusion of an additional chapter at that time.
While that chapter merely listed the building material specifications elsewhere referenced in the codes, council voted to defer until this week.
The IBC and IRC will become the benchmark wherever Sussex County does inspections (14 municipalities, and developments on county land) as of March 1.
The codes mainly refer to construction standards. The Department of Health and Human Services (DHSS) covers plumbing inspections.
Electrical, heating and air conditioning, etc., rely more on licensing requirements and the tradesman’s measurable skill.