Posted by & filed under Pipes & Manholes.

In any construction project, bad ground conditions can create a wide range of problems and can even bring construction to a halt. This is why when Peter Harding Construction began work at St Wilfreds Academy in Blackburn, they knew they needed a drainage solution. The solution had to combat the poor ground conditions, not hinder the efficiency of their work, and ensure the health and safety of their team of workers.

After evaluating the site it was decided that orifice chambers and Hydro-Brake chambers were needed. However, this created problems relating to budgets and offsite design. BPDA member Marshalls CPM offered a solution by providing a full package of sealed 1200mm and 15000mm perfect manholes. They also provided off-site solutions for orifice and Hydro-Brake chambers. This allowed for many problems relating to chamber overflow to be overcome.

The Perfect Manhole system was used where possible. However, eventually, it was decided that due to the unusual ‘S’ style shape of the channel, a 1500mm sealed Catchpit that utilizes an offset inlet and outlet would be well suited for the project as well.

In addition, the client was presented a variety of pipeline design options. While plastic pipework was considered, this required using Class S Bedding. It was settled that precast concrete pipes would be the most ideal solution. This allowed for a lower overall cost and a reduced environmental impact as precast concrete pipes were installed with Class N bedding, which meant use of imported aggregate could be reduced.

The final result was an effect drainage solution that improved the poor ground conditions and accelerated the installation of the drainage requirements.

To read more please visit the BPDA website.

box culverts

Posted by & filed under Construction.

When a housing development in Lincoln was set to create 374 homes, a question was presented as to what drainage solution to use. BPDA member Forterra came to the rescue by supplying around 600 precast box culverts to the development.

Forterra, who worked together with the main contractor, Daniel Charles Construction, designed the drainage system to take surface water run-off from the development. The water is run through channels to control chambers. It is then stored into three large storage tanks, and discharged to a drainage ditch alongside the A46. Almost 2 million litres of surface water can be held in the drainage system, making it the ideal solution.

Measuring 2 metres long by 1.2 metres wide, and weighing around eight tonnes, it was expected that the delivery and installation of the box culverts would be tricky. Partner this with the difficult to access site, and you might expect to run into some problems. However, Forterra’s expertise meant that delivery and installation went very smoothly, forming runs of around 90 metres in length.

The box culverts were installed in 2 stages to ensure efficient and correct installation. The project for Forterra lasted 18 months, resulting in a well performing complete drainage system that the Construction Manager, Tony Higgins, and end client, Taylor Lindsey Homes, were very happy with.

To read more please visit the BPDA website.


Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Precast drainage systems have always been associated with strength, durability and sustainability. However in Asia, traditional precast drainage components are demonstrating their versatility by becoming the basis for an affordable housing prototype.

James Law Cybertecture, a leading Hong Kong based architecture studio, has developed a prototype for low-cost housing solutions made out of concrete pipes. These micro homes are stackable and could slot into gaps between city buildings.

The project sees 2.5m wide precast concrete pipes transformed into 9.29-square-metre homes and equipped with doors that can be unlocked using a smartphone.

The architect James Law envisions these tubular structures being stacked up on top of one another, creating affordable starter homes for young people in vacant city-centre locations across Hong Kong.

He believes that young people could live happily in the tubes for one to two years and are perfect for those would can’t afford their own private housing.

“OPod Tube Housing is an experimental, low-cost, micro-living housing unit to ease Hong Kong’s affordable housing problems,” he said.

Although the OPod is still only a concept, a prototype has been developed to show how a typical home could look. Inside the curved concrete walls, the home contains facilities for living, cooking and bathing.

Due to a rising population and limited development space Hong Kong is currently facing a major housing crisis. High demand for accommodation, skyrocketing property prices, and land limited by the city’s island geography has led architects to become more creative with the space.

They cost around £11,000 to manufacture and they could be rented out for as little as £300 a month. This is in contrast to the £1,500 rent for a one-bed apartment in the centre of the city.

Because each tube is only 2.5 metres wide, they could easily slot into narrow gaps between buildings. In addition, each unit only weighs 20 tonnes so they can be lifted with a standard crane allowing them to be relocated with relative ease.

If you want any more information please read the article on Deezen here.

underground fires

Posted by & filed under Sustainability.

Fires do happen … and not just in buildings. Last year saw wildfires spread across Greenland, Los Angeles, Montana, Portugal and Canada. With wild fire devastation getting worse every year for several parts of the world, we are tragically seeing an increase a loss of both human and animal life. While the loss of life, livelihood, homes and nature are clearly the primary concern; there are other factors that we often don’t realize are a result of these wildfires.

California in particular is always hard hit by wildfire season; so much so that homes built in fire hazard severity zones must be built to fire-resistant regulations. While this certainly protects the above ground surfaces, we must also look at what is happening underneath the surface.

When a fire occurs, wildfire or not, underground drainage pipes can suffer from serious damage, particularly if the pipe is manufactured from high-density polyethylene (HDPE) or polypropylene (PP). If the pipes burn, they can add fuel to the fire, if they melt, they can cause flooding, mudslides and even sinkholes, causing even further problems.

With wildfires predicted to double over the coming decades, and many building fires occurring every day, is it good enough to create drainage systems out of HDPE, PP and other plastics materials? With so much effort being put into creating safe and fire resistant above ground structures, it is about time building regulations looked at the problems beneath the surface. After all, fire resistant buildings can be deemed academic if a sinkhole forms in the ground they stand on.

For BPDA, the solution is simple. Concrete pipes are the way forward. If a fire of any type occurs, concrete can withstand the high temperatures and remain functioning and in place. This not only prevents flooding, mudslides and possible sink holes, it also reduces the cost and time of the clean-up and rebuild operation. Furthermore, the use of concrete pipes reduces the fuel available from which the fire can feed, hopefully making it easier to control and reduce the spread of fire.

In your next construction project, consider underground fire risks. Certainly here in the UK it is extremely rare for us to experience a wild fire. However, given the poor fire performance properties of HDPE plastic pipes, is it really wise to specify these in any area with a fire risk? Any building is it at risk of fire, and the use of HDPE pipes could mean the fire spreads uncontrollably and at a faster rate.

Choose your drainage materials carefully.


Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

A newly created trade association will represent the interests of the precast concrete drainage industry. The British Precast Drainage Association (BPDA) is formed from the integration of the Concrete Pipeline Systems Association (CPSA) and the Box Culvert Association (BCA) and takes its place as one of the specialist product groups within the British Precast Concrete Federation.

Stuart Crisp, Business Development Director of the BPDA is clear about the benefits: “While the two product groups have distinct characteristics, there is much common ground in the use of concrete products in drainage applications.  Bringing the two associations together allows us to combine our resources more efficiently to promote the benefits of precast concrete drainage solutions.”

A distinctive new logo marks the launch of the Association and although rebranding the wealth of technical data sheets and guidance notes will be a gradual process, the new website is now live and all information from both associations can be found at

“The concrete industry has some compelling product benefits to shout about,” continues Stuart Crisp. “Our mission is to provide measured and accurate information and to counteract situations where inadequate and misleading opinions prevail.”


Posted by & filed under Pipes & Manholes.

Precast concrete has been around for many years. This time-proven, strong, durable and sustainable material continues to develop as new products and systems are introduced helping to deliver safer, cheaper and faster build times with reduced environmental impacts.

The precast manhole system comprises a factory produced monolithic concrete base unit, supplied complete with channel and benching with predetermined combinations of sealed inlet(s) and outlet and a thicker-walled chamber ring, removing the need for concrete backfill whilst providing a watertight structure. Construction time from base to cover slab is typically around 30 minutes.

The award-winning concrete pipe lifter makes light work of the installation of drainage pipelines. Simply remove the bucket and attach to your excavator in seconds.

There are no hydraulic links or mechanical components. It makes offloading, handling and installing pipes safer, faster, easier and cheaper.

Visit our website for more information on manholes and the pipelifter.


Posted by & filed under Pipes & Manholes.

Precast concrete drainage products have enabled Highways England’s main project contractor Costain to safely deliver a new £192 million dual carriageway section of the A556 trunk road between the Cheshire towns of Knutsford in the south and Bowdon in the north. The dual carriageway enables this strategic route to bypass the villages of Tabley, Mere and Bucklow Hill. Over 50,000 vehicles a day use the 7km stretch of road, which is an important link between the M6 motorway at junction 19 and the M56 motorway at junction 7.

Costain’s design partner for the scheme was Capita. Along with the task of designing the new road, Capita was also responsible for developing a drainage design solution with the capacity to deal effectively with rainwater run-off from the new road.

The drainage design uses precast concrete surface water channels at the edge of the carriageways to convey rainwater run-off to a series of V-gratings and then into catchpits.

Over 750 precast concrete catchpits have been used on this scheme in both 1200mm and 1800mm diameter. Manufactured by Concrete Pipeline Systems Association member FP McCann the precast concrete units incorporate a pre-cored monolithic base fitted with watertight, flexible connector seals to allow concrete drainage pipework to be connected quickly and easily to the unit.

The scheme also includes over 100 Easi-Base precast concrete manholes. Where the run-off cannot discharge directly manholes are used, many incorporating flow control units, penstocks and pollution control devices.

These off-site manufactured solutions are quicker, easier and safer to install. As the system is manufactured under factory conditions and is quality assured, the units’ quality and finish are better than could have been achieved under site conditions. Users can be sure that the precast units comply with all necessary technical standards.

Simon Ellison, Costain’s sector director said: “These off-site manufactured precast concrete drainage chamber systems have helped us achieve our build programme and site safety targets. They are simple to install and the integrity of the finished units together with the cast-in openings and seals are integral to our long life, low maintenance drainage design for the A556 bypass”.

For more information on the Concrete Pipelifter and Precast Manhole Systems please visit their dedicated pages.

bedding design

Posted by & filed under Costs, Design.

The choice of bedding design and standard of construction is as critical to the success of a pipeline installation as the choice of pipe. Understanding its importance, but not understanding the choices available, can lead to over-specification. Bedding design is one area where it is possible to prove the extent of this impact and the CPSA Structural Design and Material Cost calculators can play an important role.

There are a range of bedding solutions – or Classes – that are acceptable depending upon the material from which the drainage pipe has been manufactured, its strength and performance characteristics, traffic loading and the depth at which it is installed.

Bedding is particularly important for flexible pipes, such as sewer pipes manufactured from HDPE. This is because pipelines constructed with flexible pipes need to derive a significant proportion of their structural strength from the embedment either side of the pipeline to prevent them deflecting excessively under load, a condition known as ovalisation, where initially the vertical diameter of the pipe reduces and the horizontal diameter increases.

As a consequence of their lack of inherent strength, flexible pipe installations depend heavily on a high quality installation where the construction is carried out precisely to the engineer’s specification where the surrounding embedment takes the majority of the pipeline’s designed loading.

To help make the options more transparent, CPSA has developed a web-based Structural Design Calculator tool to help with the selection of appropriate bedding Classes for buried pipelines and a second tool – the Material Cost Calculator – to enable a clear cost comparison of different solutions.

Using these calculators recently allowed Leeds based ground worker and civil engineer Athena Civil Engineering to take the initiative on a new housing development in Roundhay near Leeds.

Using the CPSA Structural Design and Material Cost calculators, Athena was able to determine the optimum bedding design for the project. Consideration was also given to the excavated material from the trench, which was deemed suitable for backfill purposes.

To learn more about how Athena used the CPSA on-line calculators please read the full case study.

To download the CPSA Calculator App for portable devices please click here.


Posted by & filed under Training.

CPD – Continuing Personal or Professional Development – is the term that describes a commitment to structured skill enhancement and personal or professional competence.

CPSA currently offers industry professionals the choice of four CPD presentations independently accredited by Construction CPD Certification Service. These presentations have also received the approval of The Chartered Institution of Water and Environmental Management (CIWEM) and are recognised as CIWEM Accredited Short Courses.

All the presentations can be offered as a free seminar at your local office or at a suitable location. CPD certificates are available to all attendees. The presentations are delivered by Stuart Crisp, CPSA’s Business Development Director. To book a seminar, please complete the booking form or contact CPSA on 0116 232 5170 or email Stuart Crisp directly at

CDP Seminars

1. “Choosing the right pipeline system – now and for the future”

The areas covered include:

  • Installation (capital) and operating costs.
  • Structural and hydraulic design.
  • Installation.
  • Durability and lifetime operational performance.
  • Quality and Standards.
  • Innovation.

Read More


2. “Embodied Carbon Emissions in Concrete and Other Pipeline Materials”

  • Explains the fundamentals of carbon accounting and the data required to produce a carbon footprint.
  • Identifies recognised information sources and indicates limitations to the reliability of some data.
  • Includes a detailed analysis of pipelines and provides comparisons with alternative pipeline materials and installation methods.
  • Provides an overview of other environmental impacts such as responsible sourcing, recycling and embodied energy.

Read More


3. “Surface Water Management using proprietary precast concrete SuDS systems”

This seminar provides an understanding of the legal framework driving changes in the design and construction of surface water management systems in the UK and the basic principles associated with sustainable drainage systems (SuDS) and their ownership, operation and maintenance. In this context, proprietary precast concrete SuDS components and systems will be identified and their specific uses examined.

Read More


4. “Optimising Pipeline Bedding Design to Achieve Installed Cost & Carbon Efficiencies”

This seminar demonstrates that substantial savings in pipeline installation costs and embodied carbon can be achieved through the effective use of structural design and the resulting selection of an appropriate pipeline embedment detail relevant to the pipe material and strength.

Read More


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Posted by & filed under Sustainability.

Modern drainage asks a lot of its materials. You need a system that’s totally reliable, easy to install, cost – effective, sustainable and compliant with all the relevant standards. It’s no job for a lightweight. That’s why concrete is still the UK’s best choice for sewerage systems. Concrete offers strong, stable, sustainable performance backed by over 150 years of proven success.

To find out more visit the CPSA website and download the Heavyweight Brochure.