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Study Says Pipe Failures Cause for Concern: Break Rates for Almost Half of U.S. Water Mains Up More


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By —— Bio and Archives March 6, 2018

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LOGAN, Utah—Utah State University’s (USU) Buried Structures Laboratory has published a second comprehensive study on break rates of the most commonly used water pipe materials titled, “Water Main Break Rates In the USA and Canada: A Comprehensive Study.” The Buried Structures Laboratory has a large scale testing facility for pipes and underground structures. USU is also home to the Utah Water Research Laboratory (UWRL), which has been a world leader in environmental research and water policy for over 50 years. UWRL is the oldest university-based water research facility in the U.S.

Dr. Steven Folkman, co-author of Buried Pipe Design and author of a 2012 USU water main break report, has completed a new pipe materials survey in which over 300 utilities responded, representing approximately 200,000 miles of installed water mains.  The 2018 study was able to get respondents from 48 states in the U.S. and 7 out of 10 provinces in Canada, representing a 49% increase in survey responses and 45% more miles of pipe compared to the 2012 study, increasing its statistical validity.  Utilities that provided data serve a population of over 52 million people, representing 14.5% of the total population of the U.S. and Canada. The survey recorded 23,803 pipe failures that needed repairs which is a significant basis for break data.  This is one of the largest surveys conducted on water main breaks and the results give an accurate representation of water pipe condition and operation in North America.  The report can assist in revising pipe service life assumptions used in the past.—More…


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