Pipe Issues Blog

Welcome to the Pipe Issues Blog

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North America's underground infrastructure is crumbling at an alarming rate, so smarter, more cost-effective and sustainable practices are needed.

Broader use of PVC pipe would solve this problem and enable municipalities to spend taxpayer dollars more wisely. To do this, local governments and utilities need to modernize outdated procurement practices that ignore corrosion-proof PVC pipe.

Explore our web site and visit my blog to learn about the exceptional performance and environmental attributes of PVC pipe, and why it should be included in every bid for water and wastewater infrastructure. To connect to my blog, bookmark this page or link our Pipe Issues Blog to your RSS feed program.

Industry expert and Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association Executive Director Bruce Hollands shares the facts.

Pipe Material Selection Key to Cost-Control and Performance of Water Systems

Posted By Bruce Hollands on Feb 28, 2013

A 2010 U.S. Conference of Mayors report stated that spending requirements for the next 20 years (2009-2028) for both water and wastewater systems including capital, operations and maintenance and growth was $3.8 trillion. The underground pipes, as the EPA points out, are nearly 60 percent of the total costs and as a result are where municipalities can achieve significant savings. The cost of water pipes and their long-term performance are critical.

Up to 70 percent less expensive than iron pipe, PVC pipe is an easy winner when it comes to saving water utilities money on capital expenditures (See: "Pleasanton's Underground Infrastructure: Sustainability, Cost-Efficiency Through Better Materials Procurement Practices,U.S. Mayor). Equally important, PVC is also the best performing pipe available according to a landmark study by Utah State University’s (USU) Buried Structures Laboratory. Better performing pipes help reduce operations and maintenance costs, which are spiraling out of control at 6 percent above the annual rate of inflation mainly because of the use of corrosion-prone piping materials.


Study: PVC Pipe Has Lowest Failure Rate, Corrosion a Problem for 75% of U.S. Water Utilities

According to USU’s “Water Main Break Rates in the USA and Canada: A Comprehensive Study,” PVC pipe has the lowest overall failure rate when compared to cast iron, ductile iron, concrete, steel and asbestos cement pipes. Water main breaks are calculated for all pipe materials used in the transport of water to create a measurement to judge pipe performance and durability. The data for the comprehensive report was collected from 188 utilities, representing approximately 10% of the nation’s installed water main pipe network.

“Significantly, the study showed that when comparing between older cast iron and newer ductile iron, thinner-walled ductile iron is experiencing failures more rapidly.” Another major finding includes corrosion as a major cause of water main breaks: 75% of all utilities have corrosive soils and combined with a high portion of cast iron and ductile iron pipes, corrosion is ranked the second highest reason for water main pipe failure in the U.S – underlining the importance of using corrosion-proof PVC pipe in water systems.