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Denver Water has historically replaced old and deteriorating waterlines using the open-cut, dig and replace method, utilizing its own construction crews and equipment. But in recent years, Denver Water has studied pipe bursting and has seen the benefits that pipe bursting offers in busy residential areas. Namely, residents do not lose access to their homes; water service is only interrupted for one to two hours; road repairs are limited to small patches; unsightly project spoils are greatly reduced; and project costs can be reduced by 20% to 50%. Following a successful 2011 pilot project in Cherry Creek, Denver Water's Distribution Supervisor, Mike Mercier, reported, "Cherry Creek loved the results of the pipe burst project we did this summer. They were especially happy with the minimal disruption to their City during construction."
Subsequently, Denver Water completed four more pipe bursting projects in 2011 with the assistance of BT Construction. In 2011, Denver Water Materials Coordinator, Jim Olson, who championed the pipe bursting initiative, crunched the numbers and observed, "We will definitely continue pipe bursting next summer, but we'll be doing it with our own crews. In 2011, we replaced nearly 4,000 feet of old 6-inch and 8-inch cast iron water mains and saved an average of $32/LF. That's over $120,000 in savings, even after we paid a contractor!"
In February 2012, Denver Water sent key personnel from two of its construction crews to Underground Solutions' Fusion School in Cranberry, Pennsylvania for Class I Fusion qualification (4-inch through 12-inch). Jim selected TT Technologies pipe bursting equipment for his projects, but decided to rent during the learning phase of the program. A few months later, Denver Water kicked off its 2012 Pipe Burst Program by targeting five streets with failing cast iron mains:
From the pilot project in 2011, through outsourcing installation to a trenchless contractor to becoming a self-performing pipe bursting utility in 2012, Denver Water has now installed over 8,000 feet of Fusible PVC® pipe via pipe bursting. At the end of the 2012 season, Jim Olson said, "We're only going to get better, and we're looking forward to more pipe bursting projects pipe in 2013."