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Air Scouring for Water Main Cleaning: How Relevant Is It in 2023

A big part of pipeline cleaning is to maintain water quality. For cleaning water mains with smaller diameters, air scouring is a non-abrasive option. Compared to other alternatives like flushing, pigging, or swabbing, air scouring is quite relevant as a more affordable approach. Learn more in this article.

As part of Uisce Éireann’s (formerly Irish Water) national Leakage Reduction Programme to provide a more reliable, safe and uninterrupted water supply to Irish people, homes, offices and habitations, it is detrimental for the organisation to implement strategic plans for a range of actions: 

  • Fix water pipe leaks and underground pipe repairs
  • Replace deteriorated pipes
  • Clean and upgrade problematic water mains 
  • Most essentially remove or reduce the content of lead from all sources of drinking water.

In Ireland, municipal water utilities or contractors are normally in charge of cleaning the pipes using specialised tools and methods. To remove any buildup, this may entail the application of cleaning solutions as well as the use of high-pressure water jets.

It is significant to note that water main cleaning may momentarily interfere with the area’s water supply causing habitations to go without water for several hours or perhaps an entire day.

A faster, less invasive method of cleaning water mains is obviously needed. Sometimes, conventional methods of swabbing or flushing may have drawbacks and disrupt the local water supply for a longer period. 

If done correctly, the modern method of air scouring is the most effective and efficient way for water main cleaning with a diameter of up to 300mm without the need for mains excavation.

It is generally acknowledged that a thoroughly thought-out mains cleaning operation can offer important extra advantages in terms of enhancing the management and understanding of water supply assets.

Water Treatment and Filtration Approaches

Compressed air that has been cleaned to be “oil-free” and pumped into the mains via a hydrant is used in the air-scouring water treatment process. The goal is to move a small amount of water quickly.

The slug flow system in the water allows the solids and trash to stay suspended, which is how the water filtering process operates. Discrete slugs of water form in the main and are propelled along by the compressed air when given a steady supply of compressed air and water in the proper ratios.

There is a hydrant that ejects water, air, and any suspended solids at the end of the length being cleaned. With the aid of this technology, water streams can move at speeds high enough to carry loose sediments.

Best Practices of Water Main Cleaning Through Air Scouring 

The Water Research Council, Factair, and Irish underground survey experts USA Ltd. collaborated to develop the air scouring technique which is widely used in Ireland and some regions of the UK. 

The techniques perfected over several years are much more economical than the swabbing and pigging approaches. Most importantly, air scouring can achieve water velocities high enough to move loose contaminants in the water stream and works with water mains ranging in diameter from 75 mm to 300 mm.

  • It is crucial to follow the following procedures for air scouring and water line cleaning to ensure that clean water mains function properly.
  • Before usage, compressed air must be properly cooled and filtered to the highest standards.
  • Utilise air scouring and flushing in combination to get around the site’s water restrictions to the highest extent
  • Before usage, compressed air must be properly cooled and filtered to the highest standards.
  • Monitoring system for changes in water quality, including pressure variations, the presence of contaminants, temperature changes, and any odour traces.
  • Record keeping: It’s crucial to keep track of all air scouring operations, including the time and date they took place, the tools that were employed, and any difficulties that might have arisen. These records can be consulted in the future and used to track how well the procedure works over time.
  • Regulation compliance: Air scouring must be done in conformity with all applicable local, state, and federal laws, including those about worker safety, water quality, and environmental protection.

The company USA Ltd. has arranged a variety of specially designed machines to carry out the bulk of the air scouring operations in the Irish regions.

These units, which include 125 and 250 CFM trolley units and 130 CFM PS130C, are perfect for water filtration and can be utilised with already-installed compressors.

For full connection and usage of the compressed air system, the units include integral air compressors that are totally self-contained and incorporate cooling and filtration control valves, pressure gauges, and essential hoses.

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