Two customer experiences

Indian Wells Valley Water District in Ridgecrest, Calif., serves the infrastructure that supports the Naval Air Weapons Station located there. Issues began to surface three years after the district began chlorine disinfection of its well-based water supply. In 2004, HDPE service lines began splitting and leaking at various locations along the alignments.

  • Close-up of pull-in assembly with service pipe splitter head entering the leaking service pipe and the CPVC composite pipe right behind the splitter head.

    Credit: Andy Seidel

    Close-up of pull-in assembly with service pipe splitter head entering the leaking service pipe and the CPVC composite pipe right behind the splitter head.
What started as a small number of failures ballooned to an average of at least one a day. Managers began replacing lines once they realized crews were repeatedly repairing the same ones. Today, the district averages more than 350 replacements per year at about $2,000 each.

Managers initially specified copper for the replacement pipe, but weren’t completely satisfied with its weight, the risk of theft, and the volatile pricing of the semiprecious metal. In early 2013, they were introduced to ServiceGuard and found it provided the combination of value required.

“What started as a couple leaks here and there is now averaging more than two leaks per day in July and August,” says operations superintendent Jason Lillion. “Composite pipe is less expensive and less attractive to thieves than copper tube and doesn’t have the issues related to oxidative degradation.”

A company that oversees maintenance and long-term system development for Hawaiian water providers recently used the pipe to slipline 170 feet of failing 2-inch HDPE service lateral beneath 12 inches of rebar and wire for a crossing. “It’s a great product due to the installation similarities with copper,” says Dave Minami of West Maui Land Co. Inc. in Kahului. “Within several hours, the job was complete and the customer very satisfied.”

Given the current public budget environment, repairing an increasing number of service lines is unwelcome. But when combined, advances in methods and materials can help solve a burgeoning problem for resource-strapped water utilities nationwide.

Andy Seidel is CEO of Underground Solutions Inc. E-mail aseidel@under groundsolutions.com.