As published by Joan Pringle from Go Anacortes press, Anacortes WA98221,
Fiber optics coming to city via water pipes
Anacortes will get some major help from a company in England with bringing fiber optics into the community — by way of feeding micro-duct, and ultimately cables, through existing water pipes.
CRALEY Group Limited is the only company with the technology to do what it does, which is building and installing conduits to push the fiber-optic cables through the pipes, according to Public Works Director Fred Buckenmeyer.
The Anacortes City Council on Monday approved a $265,972 contract with CRALEY to purchase its Atlantis Hydrotec fittings and micro-duct, which will allow public works to connect the water treatment plant on River Bend Road in Mount Vernon to the Whistle Lake Road pump station with fiber optics.
The project is one step in replacing the the city’s radio-based telemetry system used to control the sewer and water systems. The new system will also serve as a backbone to eventually allow residents and businesses access to broadband. Northwest Open Access Network or NoaNet, a municipal nonprofit corporation, is helping the city design and manage the project.
Buckenmeyer came across CRALEY while researching how to get fiber from the water plant to the city limits. Hurdles included getting through the Skagit River, Telegraph Slough and the Swinomish Channel along with the sheer distance that the fiber needs to be installed.
The physical challenges were overcome by using CRALEY's “pipe-in-pipe” system, CRALEY CEO Andy Harris said by email.
“It became apparent to me and them that this would be an ideal use of their technology,” Buckenmeyer said.
The system involves feeding micro-duct, about the thickness of a magic marker, through special adapters into the city’s 36-inch-diameter water pipes. A communications cable is then installed within the micro-duct, which is made out of the same materials as the existing fresh-water supply pipe system.
The technology uses infrastructure already in place, which means trenches don’t have to be dug, saving time and money.
“By utilizing the Atlantis Hydrotec solution, a community gets far more ‘bang for their bucks’ and in a fraction of the time and cost,” Harris said.
The system is in use in the United Kingdom, Spain, South Africa and New Zealand. It is internationally certified and approved by water authority regulators and carries full American National Standards Institute certification, according to the company.
The state Health Department also has approved it, Buckenmeyer said.
Before approving the contract, Councilman Eric Johnson thanked Buckenmeyer for thinking outside the box, as well as outside the continent for a solution.
Buckenmeyer estimates it will take about 30 days to manufacture the adapters, 30 days to ship and 30 days for city crews to install them and the micro-duct after receiving training from the company. Actual feeding of the fiber optic cables into the micro-duct will be done by a NoaNet contractor.
That puts a completion date close to the end of summer, about the same time the city expects to complete installing fiber on Puget Sound Energy poles in the central part of the city and setting up a hub at the Anacortes Public Library. The bid for construction of that work will be awarded in April, Buckenmeyer said.
Once that is complete, the city will start planning to expand the system to its west end facilities. The actual construction of that portion of the project will be in 2018, he said.
In the meantime, city staff will work on business and operating models to eventually hook up residents to the system, Buckenmeyer said.