Plastic Pipe Facts™

City of Dalton, Georgia:

Once held out as an HDPE success story and case study, Dalton, GA is a city with thousands of feet of HDPE pipe that was installed in the late 1990's and early 2000's.1 Dalton's experience with HDPE pipe has been challenging. By the end of 2005, Dalton reported about 450 failures (table below).

Dalton 1 Dalton2
Example of HDPE pipe splitting experienced by Dalton, Georgia (2011).

 

HDPE Pipe Failures by Year and Type for 2003, 2004 and 2005
HDPE Failure Type
2003
2004
2005
Fusion
73
93
113
Pipe Split
14
93
66

 

With expenses totaling $916,741.17 – that included emergency repair costs of $234,390.93 for 2003 and 2004 alone, Dalton Utilities proactively set out to determine why their HDPE pipes were failing. Both the pipe manufacturer and an independent testing lab reported that the pipe was fully compliant with the governing pipe standard (AWWA C906). Dalton purchased electronic pressure gauges to monitor their operating pressures at all locations where HDPE pipe splits were occurring and retained several independent laboratories and experts to determine the cause of HDPE pipes' poor performance. Their independent consultants concluded, "the results (pressure gauges) did not reveal any high, cyclic pressure events in the pipeline that could be related to the root cause of the pipe failures". The consultant further stated that, "it appears that the pipeline is operating at pressures within the range claimed by the pipe manufacturer and as specified".

Dalton Utilities eventually received financial compensation from Performance Pipe, the manufacturer of the failing HDPE pipe and has revised their pipe selection requirements to minimize the risk of failures.

 

 

  1. “HDPE is the Secret for Low-Cost Water Project in Georgia”, Plastics Pipe Institute 2010.