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Corrosion No 1 reason for burst water mains

One of the issues that Think Pipes Think PVC has tackled over the past three years is that of iron corrosion in Australia water due to outdated Iron pipe systems degrading water quality. As well as being a substantial health hazard to the community, corrosion is also the number one reason for burst water mains across the country.

You only have to listen to the traffic news each morning to hear a report of a burst water main causing traffic chaos in some metro or suburban area – costing councils and water utilities millions in repair, water loss - not to mention the disruption to the wider community. It’s a national problem that needs to be addressed.

Corrosion, leaks and breaks in old-technology pipe materials are degrading our water delivery and sewage treatment systems, which are critical to public health and the environment. PVC pipe is a proven and extremely durable alternative and unlike metal piping, PVC won’t rust or corrode over time.

A 2013 Nine News special report highlighted the billions of litres of water that is lost due to old pipes and infrastructure not being updated. The report states that Sydney Water expects to lose 40.5billion litres of water in 2013. More than 16,206 full Olympic Swimming Pools of water. OR even more astonishing, 6.6% of all the water in the pipes.

Burst Water Main

The cost of water main break repair is not only calculated in terms of repair costs, but also in terms of lost water, replacement of corroded pipes and implementation of corrosion-mitigation measures, which are ineffective since they only delay an unavoidable outcome. This should also include the high costs of emergency equipment, traffic disruptions, and lost work time.

Today’s corrosion crisis is due to the materials used in our underground pipe networks over the last 100 years. At first Cast Iron pipes were use, their thick walls able to withstand for many years before corrosion ended their lives. Ductile Iron pipes are not going to perform as well as they are significantly thinner than the original CI pipes from 100+ years ago.

A 2007 book by Pierre R. Roberge, titled Corrosion Inspection and Monitoring looked at the necessity for long term corrosion planning and the impact the pipe wall has on the longevity of the pipe.

“The average thickness of cast iron and ductile iron pipe has been continuously decreased over the last 100 years, because thinner, higher strength pipe has become available. Unfortunately, corrosion rates are not significantly dependent on the strength of ductile iron or steel as was demonstrated by extensive corrosion studies. As a result, thinner wall pipe will have a smaller corrosion tolerance than thicker wall pipe and will show more frequent failures. The time to corrode through a pipe wall was found to be directly proportional to the square of the wall thickness, for example, for a wall thickness reduction of 50%, the corrosion life will be reduced to 25% of the life of the original pipe thickness.”

PVC pipe are able to deliver corrosion free thinner wall pipes as PVC pipes are not susceptible to rust or corrosion. PVC pipe is a proven alternative to traditional corrosion prone pipe materials. Recognised by state, national and international agencies and standards organisations, PVC Pipe is the benchmark since it was introduced in the sewer, water and drainage markets.

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