Perth Region Alliance (PRA) is introducing innovative technology to reduce the inconvenience our operations can cause customers during leak repairs and valve replacements. 

The SarcoStopper equipment allows work to be carried out without interrupting supplies to nearby customers, which reduces disruption and saves water because the affected pipe will no longer have to be emptied.

It will also allow us to carry out work during business hours in commercial and industrial areas which in the past would have been done overnight. 

“SarcoStopper is one of a number of innovative technologies PRA has introduced or is currently investigating. The aim is to improve the service we provide to our customers, upskill our workforce, and enhance our capacity to efficiently operate and maintain Perth’s water supply network,” said PRA Manager Garth Walter.

The equipment works by tapping into a water main twice on either side of the leak or valve a crew is working on. An inflatable bag is installed into the closest points while a bypass pipe is connected to the furthest points. 

Pressurisation units on either side of the work area then inflate the bags using mains water pressure, isolating the section being worked on while maintaining continuous water supply without pressure fluctuations. 

Using SarcoStopper may also reduce the occurrence of water main faults, as closing and opening valves can cause ‘water hammer’ to travel through pipes, resulting in additional leaks.

The equipment was identified by PRA’s Asset Capability and Delivery Manager, Jason Sadler, and two sets were purchased from the significant sustainable savings in operating expenses achieved by our Alliances. These are the first SarcoStoppers to be purchased and used in Australia.

Training Coordinator Richard Schofield arranged training for 11 PRA team members during January, which included a day using the equipment in the field.

UK water utility Severn Trent Water rolled out SarcoStopper in late 2011 in response to an increase in unplanned supply interruptions and saw an immediate decrease in faults inconveniencing their customers.