Plastic Pipe Facts™

South Red Deer Regional Wastewater Commission (SRDRWC)–Olds to Bowden Force Main:

During the spring of 2013, a newly installed HDPE force main between the towns of Olds and Bowden (about 12 miles apart) in central Alberta experienced leaks during pressure testing.1 Approximately 15% of the electro-fusion couplings leaked under pressure which necessitated the replacement of 61 joints. The repair bill was reported to be more than $2 million, not including $180,000 in lost revenues while the line remained out of service.1

The Olds-Bowden line is part of a $138 million regional wastewater project with the next phase running from Penhold to Red Deer in 2014. "When we started testing the line we started getting leaks, and this is unacceptable, because when it will have wastewater it would be really unacceptable," added the wastewater project manager. "We were getting a failure rate of too much. One out of seven was failing on us."1

Field installation of electro-fusion couplings requires completing numerous steps that can be difficult to accomplish inside an open-cut pipe trench.2,3 Re-rounding of the naturally ductile HDPE pipe to ensure contact, restraint to ensure proper "stabbing", pipe cleaning, pipe scraping/material removal and uninterrupted power supply can all pose challenges to the integrity of electro-fusion joints in field situations.

Leaking HDPE electro-fusion coupling, Alberta, Canada


Cut-out leaking HDPE electro-fusion joint, Alberta, Canada


  1. The Mountain View Gazette, "Multi-million dollar repairs made to wastewater line", August 21, 2013. Olds, Alberta,Canada.
  2. Central Plastics, "Electrofusion Installation Procedure Manual", Rev 5/03, Shawnee, OK.
  3. C. O'Connor, "Polyethylene Pipeline Systems - Avoiding The Pitfalls of Fusion Welding", GL Noble Denton (Oil & Gas) United Kingdom