Inside TasWater - Episode 13

9 October 2019

There was a hive of activity along a section of Steele Street, Devonport earlier this month as a TasWater crew worked to repair two separate fire plugs, isolating the water in the area proved to be the trickiest task.


The damaged fire plugs were discovered as part of routine maintenance in the Devonport area. Flushing was being conducted from the fire plugs and slight leaks were discovered. It was determined that both hydrants required a ball and washer replacement as over time pressure in the mains can cause the balls to have an uneven surface, which allows water to leak from the fire plugs opening.

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Fire plugs are openings in the water main and when operating correctly the pressurised water within main and a wooden ball covered in rubber keep the opening restricted, which is why you don’t see them constantly leaking. When TasWater or Tasmanian Fire crews require access to the water they place a device called a stand pipe into the fire plug which pushes the ball down allowing water to flow out of the main.

To allow for repairs to be conducted a separate planned water outage was organised for each fire plug. Each outage affected approximately 80 properties and were scheduled to be between 9am -midday and 1pm-4pm. During each of these outages a portable water trailer was connected to the local bowling alley and a nearby medical centre, so they could continue to operate unimpacted while we worked in the area.


The first fire plug located near the old maternity hospital was repaired much quicker than expected due to the quick work of the crew and assistance from CML utility services' vac truck.


The second hydrant was almost started ahead of schedule, but some tricky valves prevented the crew from isolating the water to the area. The crew work on six separate valves for almost 2 hours to ensure the water was restricted enough to replace the ball and washer in the hydrant. The valves had not been used in sometime and were filled with dirt and gravel which prevented the crew’s tools getting enough grip on the valve to turn it tightly off. The vac truck on site was utilised to remove most of this dirt. The water was isolated enough for crews to complete the repairs before back-filling the area. Both areas were then referred to contractors to re-attend and hot mix the areas. 




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