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Jelena Andrić Grafakos, Managing Director, ACO East Europe Adriatic

ACO. We Care For Water

Professional solutions for water management in modern infrastructure projects

The infrastructure projects implemented in Serbia over recent years have proved to be the most complex and demanding investments in the construction industry. At the centre of attention have very often been excavations, construction works, weight-bearing and finishing layers. In the past, the topic of professional tunnel drainage, highway and bridge drainage, as well as the treatment of water from these surfaces, has been considered a secondary priority.

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However, serious accidents that occurred in several European tunnels during the 1990s led to the 2004 proclamation of the European Parliament Directive on minimum safety requirements for tunnels in the trans-European road network.

Since then, more attention has been given to professional systems for the drainage and treatment of water in highway projects, from design to the construction phase. The danger of fire in tunnels, and the grave consequences it can have on human lives, is linked directly to the efficiency of tunnels’ internal drainage systems.

Looking back, without existing local regulations, it was quite a challenge to create modern and functional solutions that are fully compliant with the new safety requirements at the European level.

ACO, as the leading global producer of system solutions in the area of water management, had already amassed substantial experience in a large number of infrastructure projects worldwide and was able to offer expertise that proved extremely useful in the initial development of new Serbian highway network routes.

ACO, as the leading global producer of system solutions in the area of water management, had already amassed substantial experience in a large number of infrastructure projects worldwide and was able to offer expertise that proved extremely useful in the initial development of new Serbian highway network routes

The first designs with professional drainage and water treatment systems were developed back in 2008. The first implementations, however, only came several years later, in 2014.

During that time, ACO’s local experts worked closely with designers and construction companies to clear all the necessary details, requirements, calculations and installation details.

This resulted in the implementation of modern drainage systems, with the task of taking care of hazardous liquids in the case of an accident inside the tunnel, through hydraulic intake of 20,000 litres in a period of just five minutes. That means that the design of the drainage system enables the content of one cistern transporting hazardous, flammable liquids to be cleared in the required time. These dangerous liquids are then conveyed to the system for water treatment – an oil separator equipped with an alarm system and storage tanks of the required volume. This system was designed locally, with ACO components, and approved by the Serbian fire service. In the case that a fire does break out inside the tunnel, the design of drainage shafts prevents the fire spreading to the rest of the system and protects the tunnel’s main collector.

Beyond the tunnels, wherever the highway traverses water catchment areas, the protection of ground water is required through the implementation of separators for oil and heavy metals.

This ensures that the safety of people, groundwater and equipment in highway projects is raised to the level of safety required by European norms. Most of the new infrastructure developments, such as tunnels on Miloš the Great Motorway E-763, Šarani, Brđani, Savinac, Brančić, Lipak, Železnik and the latest Laz and Munjino Brdo, the Požega-Preljina highway section, the Belgrade ring-road and the Moravian Corridor are all equipped with ACO professional drainage and water treatment systems and boast the highest level of safety.

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