Lack of maintenance over fifty years has left the steel Canal du Foulon in a terrible state: 1 out of 10 billion cubic metres of water is lost each year. To avoid further water leakage, the defective sections of the pipeline had to be replaced. This was a technically very challenging project, as the century-old canal runs through the French Alpes-Maritimes mountains and delivers drinking water to 90,000 people.
Aliaxis France has been working for over a year on this project. “We started a study in October 2018. Given the challenging working conditions, we prescribed our pre-sleeved PE pipe solution to the ‘Syndicat Intercommunal du Canal du Foulon’ and the two pipeliners”, Samuel Bouvier, responsible for Infrastructure projects in the South-East of France, explains.
The first section to be dealt with was located in Gourdon. A polyethylene bypass of almost half a metre in diameter and 850 metres long was constructed. The purpose of this bypass was to divert the existing steel pipe to preserve the drinking water supply of the dwellings served by this network. Installing the bypass took six weeks.
Samuel testifies: “With overhanging cliffs of 300 to 700 metres high in a narrow canyon, the only way to route the pipe was by helicopter. To make this happen, the leading French pipeliners Sade and Hydrokarst, specialists in engineering works with difficult access, were called in.”
Collaborating with Spain and Germany
He continues: “Aliaxis Spain produced our PE pipes, while Aliaxis Germany produced the sleeves. Aliaxis France coordinated the production in these two factories and oversaw the overall budget and logistics. We provided on-site training for the workers, so that they knew how to install our pipes. Besides, on this site, we have also prescribed our Straub pipe couplings on the DN700, DN600, DN450 metal pipes to be rehabilitated.”
Pre-welding allows to work faster
This complementarity has enabled Aliaxis France to stand out from its competitors. Samuel: “As we had already pre-welded the electrofusion couplers onto the pipes in our factory, welding on-site was reduced by almost 60%. The use of the pre-welded pipe solution decreased the amount of work on site and the risk of errors, and thus allowed us to work much faster. As Aliaxis controls the entire production chain, we could offer a warranty to the customer, which is very unusual in this industry.”