US and International Dig Ups Confirm PVC Water Pipe's Longevity in Excess of 100 Years, According to a Comprehensive Study from Utah State University

May 14, 2014, 09:00 ET from Utah State University

LOGAN, Utah, May 14, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- The Utah State University (USU) Buried Structures Laboratory has published a comprehensive study on PVC pipe excavations, testing and life cycle analysis. USU, located in Logan, Utah is also home to the Utah Water Research Laboratory and has significantly contributed to water and wastewater research internationally for over 50 years.

The study reviews past dig-up reports and presents new quality control testing results that continue to validate the performance and longevity of PVC pipe used in water networks. A combination of pipe examination and testing data in conjunction with previous pipe break studies support PVC as a sustainable pipe material and confirm its longevity in excess of 100 years.

"Understanding the longevity of pipes improves the ability of a water utility to make better infrastructure investment decisions with improved affordability results for customers," says report author Dr. Steven Folkman.

A previous USU study on water main breaks in the US and Canada showed PVC pipe to have the lowest rate of main breaks of all pipe materials examined, which included ductile iron, cast iron, steel, concrete, and asbestos cement. This report continues to explore PVC reliability and longevity. As well, the critical issue of affordability is examined, which could not come at a better time as the US water sector faces the difficult task of renewing its buried infrastructure.

"This study provides the next body of evidence supporting the ability of utilities to address the failing infrastructure and the affordability dilemma," says Folkman. According to the US Conference of Mayors a total of $2.28 trillion is needed in water and wastewater piping over the next 20 years.

A major finding of the study is that US water utilities can reduce water main breaks and operations and maintenance costs by including corrosion-proof PVC piping in their replacement programs. Earlier research by USU showed that corrosion of iron piping is a major problem for water systems and newer metallic pipes are experiencing failures more rapidly than older types because of their thinner walls.

The report also found that PVC pipes offer a high degree of resilience in freezing conditions. This would help reduce the ever-increasing number of iron pipes that fail during winter across the US annually.

"Many utilities have fallen short in producing appropriate cost and life cycle comparisons of pipe performance. Data on water pipe longevity must be combined with assets management techniques to make water and sewer infrastructure more durable and affordable. As well, elected officials, financial managers and utility professionals must work together to create a new management paradigm for water and wastewater systems," argues Folkman.

This study contributes to the continuing efforts of the EPA's Aging Water Infrastructure (AWI) research and work by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) and the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE).

  • Click here for a copy of the PVC Pipe Longevity Report – Affordability and the 100+ Year Benchmark Standard: A Comprehensive Study on PVC Pipe Excavations, Testing and Life Cycle Analysis
  • Click here for a copy of USU's 2012 report, Water Main Break Rates In the USA and Canada: A Comprehensive Study

Dr. Steven Folkman is a registered Professional Engineer, a member of American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) F17 Plastic Piping Systems, a member of AWWA and a member of the Transportation Research Board Committee on Culverts and Hydraulic Structures, and has oversight of the prestigious Utah State University's Buried Structures Laboratory and has been involved in analysis and testing of all kinds of pipe and associated structures for over 50 years and is recognized as one of the laboratories in the US capable of performing large scale tests on buried pipes. Dr. Folkman's expertise includes structural dynamics, linear and nonlinear finite element analysis utilizing soil/structure interaction, and testing.

SOURCE Utah State University