On June 12, 2023, a leak occurred on Suburban’s Bartolo Transmission Main (BTM), one of Suburban’s most critical pipelines. The BTM is seven (7) miles long and delivers water from the Plant 201 well field in Pico Rivera to Plant 224 in Whittier. Over 120,000 customers rely on water from the well field for drinking, domestic, irrigation, and firefighting. The pipeline diameter ranges from 20 to 36 inches and was constructed using pipe made from steel, asbestos cement, high-density polyethylene (HDPE), ductile iron, and reinforced concrete cylinder pipe (RCCP). The leak occurred on the coupling (connection) where the pipe transitions from 28-inch HDPE to 30-inch Ductile Iron.
The Whittier / La Mirada-based Construction team coordinated the repair with Brkich Construction, an emergency on-call pipeline contractor. Tom Medina provided constant communication during the repair and encouraged team collaboration. The Operations and Maintenance (OMT) team assisted with dewatering the line, and the Production team ensured that other sources were available to supplement supply while the BTM was unavailable.
The Operations and Engineering departments decided to build a rigid connection rather than replacing the coupling and risking a repeat failure. The repair was prolonged because a critical fitting had to be shipped from a manufacturer in Texas. The entire street width was closed during the repair to maintain a safe construction area for our team and customers. The repair required a large excavation with a shoring box to accommodate the fusing machine that attached the fitting to the existing HDPE pipe. We used more than 30 cubic yards of slurry (sand mixed with water and cement) to backfill and stabilize the excavation when the repair was completed.
The repair took nine days and would have taken much longer without the cooperation of Suburban’s teams. This emergency repair was a great demonstration of inter-departmental collaboration. Each department worked closely and responded promptly to ensure the repair was completed safely and efficiently.
The contractor lowering the HDPE fusing machine in the trench.
Tom Medina inspects the construction of the new connection.