Ice pigging the water mains

The task of keeping Wingecarribee Shire’s network of water mains in tip top order just got a little smarter with the introduction of a clever cleaning solution.

‘Ice pigging’ is set to become a permanent tool in the maintenance and cleaning of Council’s 650 plus kilometres of water reticulation pipework following the successful trial of the technology in two of the Shire’s towns.

Ice pigging involves pumping an ice-slurry, or ‘ice pig’, through water pipes to remove any built up debris which inevitably collects in all water main systems.

Although pumpable like a liquid, ice pigging takes on the properties of a solid when a ‘pig’ of ice slurry is formed within the pipe.

Council Water Engineer Alan Butler said ice pigging was an efficient, cost-effective and environmentally friendly way to clean the Shire’s network of underground water pipes.

 “Because it’s semi-solid slurry, it’s much more effective at scouring and cleaning the walls of pipes of varying diameters.

“Importantly, it uses approximately half the volume of water of traditional pipe cleaning methods.”

Whilst the technology has been used for some time overseas, Wingecarribee Shire Council is one of the first Local Government regions in the State to use the technology.

“Over time minute particles of dirt, iron and manganese can accumulate in all water main systems,” Mr Butler said.

“Using this technology is another way in which Council is proactively keeping the water supply from our taps clean, healthy and clear.

“We undertook a six week trial in Bundanoon and Exeter in August with very pleasing results. Based on those results, we’re looking at permanently incorporating the technology as part of our ongoing water main cleaning schedule.”

Council plans on incorporating the new cleaning method in tandem with traditional water main cleaning methods such as water main flushing.

“Another benefit of this process is that apart from the water being safe to drink immediately following the process, only small sections are tested at a time which means that typically any disruption is limited to less than an hour.”