It is something that is not at the forefront of anyone’s minds unless a problem arises. The pipes and lines used to transport water and sewage need to have a long lifecycle as they are something whose use is key for life itself.
While water and sewer lines have an average 50-year lifespan, it seems like we hear a lot of stories about leaks and breaks in them. This is because the water transport networks under our major cities are at the end of their lifecycle and need to be replaced.

Most pipes of today are either iron or PVC material. However, there are some wooden water mains that exist in some areas of South Dakota, Alaska, and Pennsylvania. The fact that they still exist is a testimony that we tend to only replace things that are broken, and that because we can’t see these things on a regular basis doesn’t mean that they are in good shape.

Nation-wide, there is a need for improved distribution networks. It is estimated that for the entire country, almost $335 billion will need to be spent over the next twenty years, and that is just for the networks that supply our drinking water.

Pipes are failing all over the country. Sometimes, these water main breaks will flood an entire region. There was one break in the Niagara Falls area that spilled approximately 11 million gallons of water before the break could be repaired.

But when it comes to replacing the old pipes, what material should be used? While PVC has become pretty much standard, does it really have the endurance of the older cast iron pipes? Cast iron has a lifespan double that of PVC, and it is not unheard of for systems of iron pipes still being incredibly sturdy after 120 years.
Feasibility studies need to be carried out during the planning stages of any project. Considerations for either a growing or shrinking population and if the area is more industrial as opposed to residential will affect the preferred types of pipe for both water and sewer lines. Further, analysis of the history of the pipe network itself. When was it last fixed? Have leaks been more frequent?

If concrete and PVC pipes are used, then you most likely won’t see any leaks for about 50 years. If the network is older, it might be more cost efficient to replace it now instead of later when it is more expensive. The cost of water itself is increasing. The pipes to carry it should be in peak condition so that less water is wasted over time.