Leak Detection and Asset Management
Water utilities have used a wide variety of pipe materials for their buried assets, and these materials do not fail in the same ways. The different materials used to manufacture pipe and distribution system appurtenances have different specifications and are manufactured through various techniques. These different specifications and techniques impact the likelihood of failure and the types of failures. Other issues also impact the possible longevity of the pipe, include its handling, installation, and use. The fact that a pipe may be able to last as long as 400 years under certain conditions does not mean that the pipe can be reasonably expected to live that long. It comes down to specifics, and most particularly, data that relate to the pipe or other asset to be managed.
Utilities must be flexible and adaptive and not wed to dogmatic approaches to managing buried assets. Key issues include the value and application of different management strategies to large versus small pipe, improved failure science and condition assessment associated with pipe, and identification of bad cohorts of pipe. In the long term, the discussion centers on failure science and condition assessment specific to the most commonly used pipe materials.