SES Water have provided the following answers to some questions posed on the planned closure of Beech Avenue for six months from March 2018 in order to replace the existing water main, as detailed in the previous post
(a) Have the possibilities of routing the pipe in the verges and not in the road been considered?
Whilst hedgerows may seem like a more suitable option, we have the added responsibility of reducing the ecological impact of our works. Working in the verge would almost inevitably require large scale removal of vegetation. Even in cases where hedgerow’s and verges are utilised, we would still need to excavate in the highway in order to carry out the individual service transfers to each property.
Having carried out extensive site surveys and a thorough review of all available utility plans it is clear that the highway is the only viable route for our new 180mm HPPE main. Even the highway presents its own challenges due to the presence of HV electric cables and gas mains. It is likely that the presence of these other utilities will force our alignment to the centre of the carriageway and therefore supporting our need to close the road.
(b) Why do they take so long? Why Isn’t the work taking place on shifts including nights and weekends?
We have been asked this question by other residents whom refer to the gas works which were carried out on Beech Avenue a while ago. Unlike the gas project, the process of laying a water main requires additional phases which ultimately increase the programmed length of a scheme.
These key phases are described in the Keep Your Water Flowing leaflet which was included as part of the information pack which was sent out to all residents. Stage 2 of this process is a key example of the differences between water and gas. When laying a gas main the individual property transfers can be carried out simultaneously with the main laying phase due to the lack of vigorous testing and disinfection requirements. The result of this means laying a water main can sometimes take twice as long as a gas project.
Other differences between gas and water which ultimately add time to the programme include the following:
- Each utility has its own prescribed depth which it needs to “lay at” in the highway so that it can be easily identified in an open trench. Traditionally water is laid at greater depth to other utilities (approximately 1.2m). Laying at this greater depth ultimately takes longer and has added H&S complexities such as trench support.
- The pipeline pressure differences between gas and water are stark. When dealing with such high pressures, we are required to take a more methodical approach when commissioning a new main.
Our programme has been built to include extended working hours (7am-7pm) and Saturdays, but not nights. Working at nights is something we avoid due to the added risk to our workforce. You could argue that spotlights can be used when working at night, however we often find that bright lights and loud machinery cause more disruption\complaints than the road closures themselves.
The scale of our organisation relative to the likes of Southern Gas Networks (SGN) and UK Power Networks (UKPN) also plays a role here. As a business we are heavily regulated by governing bodies such as OFWAT whom ensure value for money is achieved across the board. Each year we commit to replacing 0.6% of our mains network and resources need to be allocated accordingly to meet this target.
(c) What access will there be for postal deliveries, other deliveries, emergency vehicles, visitors, etc.
When enforcing a road closure we are obliged to maintain access to residents, emergency vehicles and public services. Access is managed by the teams on site by moving barriers and placing metal plates over open trenches.
At times residents will need to use the approved diversion route to reach their property, however at no time will driveways be blocked. We aim to use our website as a means of communicating up to date restrictions to help residents plan their journey.
As part of the road closure application process, the local authority (Surrey CC) are obliged to circulate road closure information to key stakeholders to inform them of upcoming restrictions. This includes emergency services, postal services and dustbin collections.
(d) What liaison has there been with other utility providers, i.e telecoms, electricity, gas who might be thinking of accessing their pipes, cables, etc.?
Collaborative site sharing opportunities are something which is coordinated by the local authority. When applying for a permit to work in the highway we are notified of any potential opportunities to coordinate with other utilities. We are always open to such opportunities, however as far as I am aware no such requests have been presented for this scheme.
During a recent meeting with the Headmaster and Bursar at St Teresa’s school we discussed potentially installing a duct which could be utilised for future broadband cables. With the help of the school we are trying to pursue this option further with BT.