Water Main Break Study Released

June 2012, Vol. 67 No. 6
Houston water main crews dealing with a line break during the 2011 drought.

It was concluded that corrosion is a major cause of water main breaks – 75 percent of all utilities have corrosive soil conditions and combined with a high portion of CI and DI pipes, one in four main breaks is caused by corrosion which is ranked the second highest reason for water main pipe failure. Northeast and North Central U.S. utilities will experience a higher percentage of corrosion breaks due to a higher concentration of CI and DI pipes (90 percent) installed.

Other findings include a new national metric of 264 people per one mile of pipe connections regardless of utility size. The average age of the failing water mains is 47 years old and 22 percent of all water mains are over 50 years old. The study also found that 8 percent of all installed water mains are beyond their useful life and the use of trenchless technologies will continue to increase with directional drilling as the most widely accepted technology with a higher satisfaction rating and 74 percent of utilities are considering it in the near future. This study contributes to the continuing efforts of the EPA's Aging Water Infrastructure (AWI) research and the American Water Works Association (AWWA).

The Water Main Break Rates In the USA and Canada: A Comprehensive Study can be found at: www.neng.usu.edu/mae/faculty/stevef/UtahStateWaterBreakRatesLR.pdf