Manholes are everywhere yet they
often go unnoticed.
But when a manhole fails,
overflowing sewer systems quickly make these seemingly innocent infrastructure
markers all too conspicuous.
A UT Arlington civil engineering assistant professor is
teaming with a private sector engineer to study different techniques for
renewing and designing manholes.
Mohammad Najafi, the
civil engineering assistant professor, and Firat Sever of Benton & Associates
of Illinois are partnering in a $242,420 grant from the nonprofit Water
Environment Research Foundation to conduct the research at The University of
Texas at Arlington’s Center for
Underground Infrastructure Research and Education.
Titled “Structural Capabilities
of No-Dig Manhole Rehabilitation,” the
project will look at structural strengths and weaknesses of common manhole
Mohammad Najafi, right, takes a look at a manhole with a work crew and his students recently.
“Manholes are windows to our sewer system and are sometimes overlooked
in maintenance,” Najafi said.
The grant will allow the team to conduct compression tests, tensile
tests and shear strength tests to create a tool for developing a system that
people can use to rehabilitate manholes.
Najafi said the research also would look at various materials that can
be used in the rehabilitation process. He said there are more traditional
materials like brick and mortar but there are some spray-on materials, too.
Najafi said manholes exist about every 400 feet of pavement on average
in the United States. The EPA estimates that there are about 20 million in this
country alone. Najafi said many of those manholes are in serious decay or in
need of immediate rehabilitation or replacement.
“Manholes have received very little attention in wastewater
engineering,” Najafi said. “Inflow is a common problem that can result in sewer
overflows and overburdening wastewater systems.”
Najafi said he believes the research will yield a tool that will help
decision-makers determine which rehabilitation method is appropriate for
“There are so many options and so many companies offering their
services that we hope to cut through for those decision-makers,” Najafi said.
“We hope to provide vital information so that design engineers can make the
proper decisions for this aging infrastructure category.”
J.-P. Bardet, dean of the UT Arlington College of Engineering, said
Najafi’s work is integral in the rebuilding of America’s infrastructure.
“Teaming with private sector partners like Benton Associates makes so
much sense in the world of higher education,” Bardet said. “Dr. Najafi’s work
will yield real-world solutions in manhole rehabilitation.”
The Water Environment Research Foundation, formed in 1989, is the country’s leading independent scientific
research organization dedicated to wastewater and stormwater issues. The
foundation, started by the EPA, is a nonprofit organization that operates with
funding from subscribers and the federal government. Subscribers include wastewater treatment
plants, stormwater utilities, regulatory agencies, industry, equipment
companies, engineers and environmental consultants.
Najafi’s project is
representative of the solution-oriented research under way at The University of
Texas at Arlington, a comprehensive research institution in the heart of North
Texas. Visit www.uta.edu for more information.
Public utilities and
municipalities as well as manhole rehabilitation product manufacturers and
service providers are encouraged to contact Najafi at email@example.com or 817-272-9177 for
participation in this important research project.
The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.