Two firms fined $77k for damaging water mains

Two construction companies have been fined a total of $77,000 for causing serious damage to potable water mains which resulted in water lost that was enough to fill three Olympic-size swimming pools.

National water agency PUB said in a statement yesterday that HSC Pipeline Engineering was fined $47,000 for the damage, while SNK Engineering & Trading was fined $30,000. Both companies were convicted in August last year.

The agency said the two cases led to a total water loss of more than 6,400 cubic metres, or nearly three Olympic-size swimming pools worth of water.

Investigations revealed that HSC Pipeline Engineering damaged a 1,200mm-diameter water main on Dec 17, 2016, while carrying out underground pipe-jacking works at a site at the junction of Woodlands Avenue 8 and Woodlands Avenue 9.

Before carrying out works in the vicinity of a water main, a contractor is required to carry out trench or hole trials to determine the location of the water main, including its alignment and depth, PUB said. It must also submit the necessary documents to get PUB's prior approval.

However, in HSC Pipeline Engineering's case, the construction company did not ascertain the physical location of the water main, and a jacking machine later hit it.

PUB shut down the water main after it received complaints, from commercial premises nearby, of discoloured water supply.

 

The firm had also damaged a 150mm-diameter pipe in June 2013. That offence was settled with a composition fine of $3,000.

In the other case, SNK Engineering & Trading was charged with damaging a 300mm-diameter potable water main on Oct 2, 2017, at a Cecil Street construction site.

The firm was a sub-contractor carrying out removal works of an existing drain for the construction of a new drain and walkway. While hacking the existing drain, it punctured the water main, resulting in a water loss of 360 cu m.

PUB said the firm failed to abide by its protection guidelines on working near water mains, and did not take the necessary precautions to minimise the risk of damage.

In the PUB statement, director of water supply (network) department Ridzuan Ismail said the water mains are important infrastructure that carry treated water from PUB's water treatment plants and service reservoirs to homes and offices.

"In severe cases, damaged mains can lead to a disruption in water supply or discoloured water to nearby amenities and cause inconvenience to users," he said.

He also urged contractors to exercise caution when carrying out works near water mains and ensure adequate measures are in place.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 04, 2019, with the headline 'Two firms fined $77k for damaging water mains'. Print Edition | Subscribe