No More Pipe Dreams

April 2, 2018

About the author: Tim Gregorski, Editorial Director
[email protected]


Have you ever gotten the feeling that you were on the cusp of something really big happening? Conversely, how about the feeling when you know something is getting ready to blow up in your face?

Now, combine those feelings and think about our nation’s infrastructure. Imagine water pipes bursting at an alarming rate all over the county. Perhaps the worst part of it all is that you had an inkling it was going to happen, yet you did nothing until it was finally too late—a pipe burst just down the street.

On the verge of becoming an epidemic, the rate at which pipes are bursting within our infrastructure parallels the occurrences of potholes on the roadways during the wintertime—they seem to be everywhere.

I was aware of the problem of pipes bursting but I didn’t really consciously address them (sound familiar?) until I noticed I had an extraordinary amount of editorial content submitted for the Product Emphasis section in this issue, which examines the subject of pipes as well as leak detection.

While reviewing the editorial materials, I read nearly a dozen stories involving pipes bursting. Not to mention the additional inquiries I received in recent weeks to submit editorial materials on this particular subject. Stories that I had to reject due to amount of material already in-house. In comparison, this issue’s High Tech section, which features meters, only garnered four submittals—generally the norm for an editorial topic in any given issue of WWD.

Hence, the subject of pipes bursting is rather common these days. In fact, I was a victim last winter as a pipe burst underneath the Kennedy Expressway at Madison Street in Chicago. While I only suffered through a couple of days of nonexistent and low water pressure along with a few thousand other area residents, you can imagine the traffic nightmares that ensued as thousands upon thousands of gallons of water spewed onto the expressway only to freeze, snarling traffic for days while crews rushed to repair the ruptured pipe.

With the subject of pipes bursting in mind, I took note of the number of professional sessions and workshops discussing the infrastructure and pipe degeneration-related topics at the AWWA ACE this past June in Orlando. According to my calculations, approximately 25 professional sessions and workshops covered this subject. Far more than some other subjects such as water security, which offered about 20 professional sessions or workshops.

Now, take a look at America’s newest favorite website Click on the “news” button and type in “burst water pipe.” As of this writing, 122 stories were queued in less than one second on June 30, 2004—and these were just the cases in which a newspaper had written a story on the subject. How many other burst pipes went unreported or didn’t garner attention in the local newspaper?

Now I know that having pipes replaced is not as simple as it sounds. However, it is never too early to begin laying the groundwork with city officials by making them consciously aware of the inevitable pipe burst. The increasing popularity of this subject suggests that you can no longer simply say that you weren’t aware of the problem.