Project #4752

Effect of Major Stress Events on Buried Pipe Service Life

In Progress
Principal Investigator
Research Manager
Dr. Jian Zhang
Asset Management
Emergency Response & Preparedness


The City of Los Angeles and its Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) are initiating a major effort to improve the resilience of Los Angeles. A major part of this initiative will address the City’s aging water distribution network. The key issue to be addressed in this research is the effect of stress history on remaining service life, particularly the effects of major stress events, such as an earthquake. This issue has emerged following the 2014 Napa earthquake, where FEMA compensation to the affected water utility depended on whether pipe remaining service life had been shortened by the earthquake. In future larger earthquakes, which are anticipated in the near future in southern and northern California and the Pacific Northwest, this will prove to be a very challenging and contentious issue.

This project will develop an analytical framework, data, and methods to estimate remaining service life given the effects of both on-going factors ("normal" stresses, corrosion, etc.) as well as major stress events.There are two major research objectives:

  1. Develop a measure of buried pipe service life as a function of material, soil and its corrosivity, utility practices and other factors
  2. Develop methods, data, and measures for remaining buried pipe service life when affected by a major stress event, such as an earthquake.

Tailored Collaboration Partner: Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.