Tuesday, September 10, 2024
3:15 PM - 3:45 PM
Location Name
How Selection of Pipeline Material Can Meet Challenges Outlined in AWWA's 2023 SOTWI Survey

SCOPE: Approximately 85 % of a water utility’s capital investment is in it’s underground infrastructure. Many times because this component of the utility’s significant investment is out-of-sight, it also becomes out-of-mind when tactical decisions in lieu of strategic decisions are made regarding material selection. The necessity in making strategic decisions relating to a utility’s pipeline network becomes evident when reviewing significant challenges facing the drinking water industry today. The American Water Works Association’s “State of the Water Industry" survey has been conducted each year over the past 20 years to provide an industry-wide self-assessment. This report for 2023 identifies as the number one challenge of the industry the Rehabilitation and Replacement of Aging Infrastructure, with Water Loss Control and Energy Use/Efficiency and Cost being respectively ranked seventeen and eighteen in the top twenty list of challenges. Additionally, Financing For Capital Improvements is listed as the number three challenge put forth in the industry survey which consisted of 4,123 respondents-the highest number yet. Each of these challenges just noted are directly affected by a water utility’s underground infrastructure and the pipeline material selected for use. The scope of this paper will focus on ways in which the proper selection of pipeline material will enhance the utility’s efforts in addressing these four challenges. FINDINGS: It has been determined by reputable studies and engineering applications that certain pipeline materials have a longer estimated service life, a greater resistance to forces which may result in underground leakage thus unaccounted for water, a superior hydraulic efficiency which directly relates to the energy savings by the utility over the life span of the pipeline, and clear advantage during construction to limit cost in many cases due to the inherent strength and stiffness of the material itself. These findings will be empirically presented and discussed in this paper. CONCLUSION: The underground infrastructure of a utility, representing the largest component of its capital investments, still remains to some as simplistic when selecting the type of pipeline material to select. When considering various material types, tactical decisions of immediate cost comparison of only the per foot cost of the material is made, disregarding other key, strategic components that can significantly overtime benefit the utility and ultimately its customers. This paper will highlight those strategic components which should be considered prior to pipeline material selection.