Our aging and over-utilized water, wastewater and transportation infrastructure systems seriously impacts us with the ever rising costs for repair, retrofit and replacement as this expense far exceeds the current tax base established and required just to maintain it. Similar to the unexpected emergency home repair or car breakdown, sudden failures or interruptions to our drinking water supply at a dam, in a buried pipeline, sewer main/ocean outfall or on a major highway bridge structure that crosses a large river or bay will cause our society a lot of grief, inconvenience and delays, and are very expensive to repair. In addition, any one of these interruptions may also cause a significant health threat or long term risk to our environment.
Underwater Resources, Inc. (URI) specializes in conducting comprehensive in-situ underwater condition assessments on and inside sanitary outfall pipelines, water transmission lines, bridge abutments, dams and inlet tower gates, bulkheads and piers, piling and on other submarine structures. We only utilize trained and experienced divers and/or technicians to document the data collected from these surveys of submerged steel or concrete structures and record both typical and “as-built” conditions using both diver-held and remote sensing UW tools and instruments. Closed-circuit UW video (diver operated and ROV), digital still photography, sonar imaging and profiling, non-destructive testing (NDT) and destructive testing (core samples and coupons), corrosion monitoring (CP), GPS positioning and Multibeam Sonar bathymetry are all useful tools and techniques used to help us measure condition and determine the extent of an underwater problem.
For above water surveys, industry has integrated light, radar and survey positioning (LIDAR) techniques into generating a very precise and repeatable system used to map existing above ground structures by converting data points into an AutoCAD or 3D electronic files. Similarly for UW inspections, we are able incorporate sonar profiling, lasers and precise XYZ positioning in order to build “point cloud” images of existing underwater structures. Now, and as never before, once the condition of an underwater structure can be accurately viewed we can better detect anomalies to understand the problem. This newly available information is powerful and allows us better to specify and devise a more suitable, economical and long-lasting repair.
In addition to inspecting and making repairs to UW structures due to just age, other “at risk” factors are also present and very real. For instance, many of California’s submerged pipelines, over water bridges and dam foundations, and marine structures were never designed to today’s seismic standards to withstand a major earthquake. These structures will remain prone to damage unless retrofitted. Likewise, our society has also drastically changed since 9/11 and many new challenges have presented themselves that require us to protect our drinking water supplies, ports and harbors, bridges and other transportation structures upon which we rely upon on a daily basis for ease of access.
With the advent of modern materials, many of which have been adapted and modified for use UW, many older structures that have long been in operation past their design life can be economically retrofitted to extend their useful purpose. Buried and submerged pipelines can be re-lined with cured in place piping systems (CIPP) or fitted with low profile seals to “permanently” patch corrosion or age-related leaks that, if left alone, would eventually cause a complete structural failure and require 100% replacement. Likewise, seismic retrofit of reinforced concrete columns, underwater towers and other submerged structures are also good candidates for using newly developed materials and applications that had never been possible only 20 or 30 years ago.
URI works closely with our Public Work clients, consulting engineering associates, manufacturers and vendors to learn about new product research and applications, case studies of successful retrofits and is aware of the many successes in our infrastructure systems using new products, repair materials and construction technologies that are currently available. We also continue to learn how we may incorporate new above water products, means and methods into underwater applications for our client’s unique use and benefit. We routinely work closely with numerous consultants, surveying firms, materials testing services and other vendors who perform UW mapping and detailed condition assessment of submerged structures as this is one area of innovation that will benefit us the most.
Because the projects that Underwater Resources performs transcends multiple industry sectors, including water/wastewater, transportation, engineering/design, construction and process plant operations, we are exposed to and welcome the opportunity to learn and share the information on how to extend the life of infrastructure structures with our clientele.
The future of infrastructure repairs, retrofit and structural life extension has never been brighter!