Tale of Two Pipelines
Last updated 11/1/2021 at 12:55pm
Borrego Water District has recently completed two pipeline replacement projects, Bending Elbow and Flying U. Looking back at the last 15 years of emergency pipeline repairs, the Bending Elbow line tops the list with a dozen. Second place goes to County Club with nine and Ocotillo Circle, Circle J, Verbana and Double O all tie for third with 7 repairs each.
In total there have been 124 pipeline breaks in those 15 years.
The most common cause is age – 50 of the breaks are from old and failing pipes and 23 from old valves, saddles and connecting parts. The next most common cause is poor choices made during the initial installation including burying the pipe with rocks and sharp objects, 16 breaks, using a substandard thin-walled pipe, 14 breaks, and incorrect installation such as not burying the pipe deep enough, six breaks. Bending Elbow leads the break list because it was a thin-walled pipe buried with rocks. The next most common cause of a pipe break is roots, either trees or oleanders with 15 breaks.
It wasn’t breakage rate that motivated the Flying U pipeline replacement, though it has had one break in the last 15 years. Rather, the private water district that laid the pipeline chose to run it through the backyards of all the homes. This meant that every month BWD staff had to walk through homeowners’ back yards to do meter reads and when a break happened dig up part of someone’s yard to fix it. And, because fire hydrants are placed on top of water lines, the fire department needed to run their equipment through peoples’ yards and gardens to fight fires. The new Flying U pipeline runs along the edge of the street where it should be.
In the last year both the Bending Elbow and Flying U pipeline replacement projects have completed. Bending Elbow replacement project took 4months to lay 1.42 mi of new high-quality pipe buried in fine sand. The Flying U project took 15 months to run the .92 miles of new pipe. This project took longer because BWD had to create a new lateral line from the back of each home where the old pipeline was to the new pipe at street.
BWD continues to balance the job of replacing so many miles of aging pipelines with keeping the rates for water as low as possible.