Pennsylvania Deep Dig Replaces Aging Pipe, Reducing Breaks

Feb. 7, 2012

Pipe replacements conducted with asset information management system

Speaking before an audience at the National Assn. of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) Winter Committee meeting in Washington, D.C., Aqua Pennsylvania Inc.'s Senior Project Engineer Frank Grablutz said the company is conducting pipe replacements by using a new asset information management system (AIMS) coupled with a strategic and practical approach to the real-world activities that sometimes interfere with the best made plans.

“Our AIMS software has allowed us to compile data in a central location so we can better manage our 5,500-mile pipe inventory,” said Grablutz. “We know how much of what type of pipe we have, where it’s located and its performance history data. This has enabled us to develop a renewal strategy that considers all of these factors.”

Aqua America Inc.'s Chairman and CEO Nicholas DeBenedictis said that Pennsylvania demonstrates the key role private, investor-owned water and wastewater utilities can play in fixing the deteriorating water and wastewater infrastructure.

“Pennsylvania addresses the necessary replacement of aging water mains through its distribution system improvement charge (DSIC)," DeBenedictis said. "The DSIC can be credited with enabling companies like Aqua Pennsylvania to make necessary main replacements of pipe, much of which is undersized, leaking, rusty pipecomposed of dated material like unlined cast iron and cement. Our replacement program has resulted in a reduction in lost water, fewer service interruptions and minimized the amount of traditional rate requests.”

Since 1997, the first full year of the DSIC through 2011, Aqua Pennsylvania has increased the investment in its pipe renewal/replacement program from $9.5 million to $120.7 million, replacing a total of 913 miles of main for an average of just morethan one percent annually. About 80% of Aqua Pennsylvania’s distribution system is located in southeastern Pennsylvania where prior to the DSIC, ductile iron pipe represented just 23% of the distribution system with the majority composed of unlined cast iron pipe.

At the end of 2011, the company had doubled its ductile pipe in this area to 46% and reduced its cast iron inventory from 57% to 41%. Further, the pipe renewal program helped the company reduce the number of leaks in southeastern Pennsylvania from nearly 1,000 per year in 2000 to less than 600 in 2011.

Source: Aqua America Inc.