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What’s the deal with those black pipes downtown?

Watermain improvements are taking place on Elm Street between Paris Street and Durham Street, necessitating the use of surface-level temporary water pipes
Black pipes such as these have been installed along Elm Street between Paris Street and Durham Street to accommodate a watermain lining project to extend the infrastructure’s life by approximately 50 years. 

The black pipes stretching along the surface of the Elm Street area between Paris Street and Durham Street are there to serve as a temporary water source while a watermain is being lined.

The 100 mm pipes, encased in some locations by asphalt ramps to accommodate vehicles and pedestrians, are expected to remain in place until work is completed sometime in November.

This work is being undertaken to extend the life of a cast-iron watermain built in 1946, which has a notable break history, city engineering services director David Shelsted told 

Rather than replace it, the city has opted to line the watermain using fibreglass and an epoxy resin, which allows them to extend the life of the pipe by approximately 50 years while minimizing disruption to the downtown.

“In doing the lining, we don’t have to do a full open trench on Elm Street, which is beneficial for traffic disruption and the businesses that are there,” Shelsted said. 

Work will take place at nights in order to further minimize disruption, and steel plates will be placed over pits they use to access pipes during the day.

“The steel plate is designed for highway traffic loading and truck traffic,” Shelsted said, clarifying they are safe to drive over.

Access pits are being dug to reach the watermain at valves and bends, where crews can install the lining. The 300 mm pipes are narrowed slightly by the lining, though Shelsted said it’s not to a degree there would be a service level impact. Further, an initial cleaning prior to lining will widen the pipe by flushing out sediment that has narrowed the pipe. 

Watermain lining such as this has taken place at various locations throughout the municipality since approximately 2014, Shelsted said, including a stretch of Barrydowne Road, whose final surfacing of asphalt is expected to be completed this week, weather permitting. It’s specialized work undertaken by North York-based Fer-Pal Construction Inc

Tyler Clarke covers city hall and political affairs for