Water Pipe Failure Assessment Modeling

Water utilities are facing unprecedented challenges resulting from aging infrastructure, tighter water quality and environmental regulations, and declining maintenance budgets. Because the majority of a water utility's infrastructure is contained within the distribution system, and the strong correlation between the condition of this system with community health and economic development, the subject of pipeline asset management has developed into one of the priority issues facing the water supply industry. The application of pipeline asset management requires knowing the condition of existing pipes in order to identify failure-prone pipes and prioritize their renewal. However, the below ground location of pipes and lack of standard guidelines or tools make pipeline assessment and renewal decisions difficult.

This research involves the development and testing of a tool developed at the University of Texas at Tyler to assist utilities with their water main renewal decisions. Rather than attempting to measure structural deterioration of each pipe within the system, the model uses a performance-based approach to estimate the present and future condition of each pipe from routine pipe inventory and break record data. Building upon the Pipe Failure Assessment Model (PFAM) originally developed by Dr. Rogers at Colorado State University, the model has several features that better address the industry's data limitations and compliment utilities' existing methodologies and planning tools.