U.S. demand: 15-in. and larger pipe(in millions of dollars)

Sanitary sewer and stormwater utilities are expected to be the top consumers of pipe 15 inches and larger, according to The Freedonia Group Inc. , representing about half the market for large-diameter pipes by 2015. The research firm estimates investment in large-diameter pipe for all applications will rise 6.2% to $8.2 billion in 2015.

Though steel and concrete were water and wastewater specifiers' material of choice last year, future value will be hampered by “market maturity in steel sewer pipe.” Concrete pipe sales are expected to rebound to prerecession levels. The most rapid gains in demand will be for ductile iron pipe.

At the same time, another trend continues: increasing use of high density polyethylene (HDPE), polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and fiberglass.