WHEN sewer mains were laid in Warrnambool’s CBD in the 1930s it took months of backbreaking manual labour by large teams of men to dig tunnels under the streets.
Now modern technology makes it possible to lay new pipes within days and barely a shovel in sight.
The old reinforced concrete sewers in Gilles Street and part of Timor Street will be replaced with larger diameter pipe made from polyethylene, designed to last longer and be more efficient.
It will be laid using “trenchless” technology for the first time in Warrnambool.
The plastic sections are joined then pulled through the old pipeline, which is shattered by a torpedo-like metal head attached to the front of new piping.
It enables sewer mains to be replaced in a fraction of the time and cost of previous methods, where streets had to be dug up.
The Gilles Street sewer is about 4.5 metres deep.
Wannon Water project engineer Linton Hall said the technology would be used more in the future.
“It’s a lot cheaper than open excavation and better for safety and traffic management,” he said.
“When all preparation work is done we’ll be able to pull the new piping through in one day.”
The job is being done by Sydney-based specialist contractor ITS Trenchless Pty Ltd.
Company supervisor Andrew Broome had the task of climbing down inspection pits into the messy sewer for preliminary inspections.
He has just returned from a large installation job at Port Hedland and will go to Adelaide after the Warrnambool work for another big project.
“I’ve been doing this sort of work for 10 years,” he said.
“It’s a lot safer now than it would have been when they dug these tunnels for sewers in Warrnambool.”
Wannon Water acting managing director Andrew Jeffers said the old main had reached the end of its serviceable life and a replacement was needed to ensure efficiency into the future.
Gilles Street northbound traffic will be closed during works this week and Timor Street eastbound vehicles will be detoured when the sewer between Gilles and Liebig streets is replaced in the next few weeks.