”It’s an alternative to open-heart surgery.”
That is how Associate Professor Dr. Mark Knight of the University of Waterloo (UW) describes trenchless technology, a type of subsurface construction that requires few or no trenches to replace or repair underground works.
“So it’s micro-surgery,” added Knight, who is also the executive director for the Advancement of Trenchless Technology at UW. “We can go in and repair, replace existing, deteriorating water infrastructure.”
Knight is one of the organizers and speakers at the Trenchless Technology Road Show (TTRS) that made a stop in Kelowna April 24-26. It brings together experts, industry leaders and stakeholders with a focus on existing and new technologies related to buried infrastructure. This year’s edition is also concerned with creating climate-conscious communities.
“A big part of climate change is the amount of greenhouse gases that we produce during the construction of putting in infrastructure,” said Dr. Knight. “So we can save 80-to-90 per cent on greenhouse gas emissions by doing the micro-surgery instead of the open-heart surgery.”
Robert Epp, vice-chair North American Society of Trenchless Technology (NASTT), explained that the purpose of the TTRS is to educate people on new technologies that reduce carbon impacts to municipalities and stakeholders.
“A million pounds of carbon would be 50,000, 20-pound propane bottles,” said Epp. “So we could not release those propane bottles by simply changing our methodologies and still accomplish the end goal.”
Epp also pointed out construction work is disruptive to businesses and residents, including noise delays, and greenhouse gas emissions.
“We burn them in our commercial vehicles, transport vehicles, excavators, rollers, and hand tools,” he said. “We’re not saying we’re the silver bullet, but where we are the right fit we can make legitimate contributions. We are trying to educate folks on other technologies that are available to them.”