Canadian Consulting Engineer

Water pipes failing after just 25 years

While older municipalities across Canada are busy replacing lead distribution water supply pipes that have bee...

August 24, 2009   Canadian Consulting Engineer

While older municipalities across Canada are busy replacing lead distribution water supply pipes that have been in the ground since the last century, others are having to replace pipes made of polybutylene (PB) that were installed as recently as 25 years ago.

The polybutylene plastic service pipes were installed in the 1970s and 1980s to connect street mains to the home as a cheaper alternative to copper piping. However, the polybutylene pipes were subject to collapse, and over time have become brittle, are cracking and leaking water.

Durham Region east of Toronto, for example, is taking advantage of federal infrastructure funds to replace up to 20,000 polybutylene service pipes, at a cost of approximately $5,000 for each connection.

John Braam, P.Eng., who managers water and waste water services for the city of London, Ontario, and is also president of the Ontario Water and Wastewater Association, thinks that while the polybutylene pipe problem might be a problem facing towns across the country, it is nowhere near as big an issue for municipalities as replacing lead pipes. At the same time, he says that polybutylene pipe is “shattering records” for its short service life.

Five years ago in the U.S. a class action lawsuit was settled by Dupont with homeowners for millions of dollars over polybutylene plumbing parts that were installed inside homes.

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Water & Wastewater

Related tags

Drinking Water

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