Fused PVC Pipe The Answer For Pipebursting Projects Across The Country

November 2010, Vol. 65 No. 11

The city’s first project, 520 linear feet beneath Third Avenue North, was completed in November 2008, and Billings has elected to continue using pipe bursting technology with fused PVC pipe throughout its long-term water main replacement program.

The adoption of fused PVC pipe for its pipe bursting application was driven by several factors. For one thing, the city was familiar with PVC piping, having used bell-and-spigot PVC pipe throughout its system. It also stocks standard fittings, and has crews familiar with tapping and working with PVC pipe.

Another factor was pull-strength. For the Third Avenue project, the fused PVC pipe had a safe pull force of 101,600 pounds. By comparison, other piping materials under consideration had lower safe pull forces, especially around bends.

But the biggest reason was upsizing. The difficulty of a pipe burst project relates directly to the increase in size (upsizing) of the new replacement pipe relative to the existing pipe. Using 12-inch DR14 Fusible C-900 pipe, the city was able to expand the 8-inch ID lines to the desired 12-inch ID. If HDPE pipe had been used, it would have had to be upsized to 16 inches to provide an equivalent ID.

The pipe was fused, pulled and pressure tested in early November 2008. Kent Lustig, project manager for the city, commented: "Overall the project went well. Fusible PVC pipe looks like the way to go on future water main burst projects."

Billings maintains over 400 miles of water mains throughout the city, much of it cast iron pipe and some of it nearly 100 years old. Going one block at a time, the city has replaced and upsized about 3,000 feet of water main thus far, with another 27,000 feet in line for future replacement.

Tight quarters in St. Helena
Upsizing and difficult installation conditions were the reasons behind the choice of fused PVC in the pipe bursting project in St. Helena, FL.

In April 2010, Team Ghilotti of Petaluma, CA, began rehabilitation of a 10-inch welded steel water line running approximately 3,000 feet south from the downtown area.

The pipe needed to be upsized to 12-inches in diameter, and the installation conditions were very tight. The line ran between a major highway and the historic Napa area vineyards, and alongside a main rail line.