Corrpro Investigates Water Main Failure

Racine, Wisconsin, like many other cities, has experienced watermain failures from split pipes, cracks, holes and blowouts. August 21, 1995 was the date of their worst failure. Two mains, 8" and 16", failed simultaneously in the worst possible location, resulting in damages to city property upwards of $750,000. The 16" main was cast iron installed in 1957, while the 8" line was over 100 years old. The water from the break gushed down a street and filled the Law Enforcement Safety Building basement garage. Fifteen vehicles, six of which were brand new police cars, were either damaged or totally submerged. All vehicles were a total loss.

Corrpro was called in to investigate the reason for the failure and to determine whether the existing pipe left in place was expected to fail again.

Walt Young, of Corrpro's West Chester, PA office, provided the failure analysis for the first phase. An on-site inspection was used to obtain soil samples, physical inspection of the failed pipe section and photo documentation. The 16" line had fractured while the 8" line had split around the circumference. Corrpro was able to determine that the failure was likely due to corrosion.

The Chicago office spearheaded the second phase of the project which consisted of soil samples taken to pipe depth at 50' intervals. In addition, through soil sampling and other interval techniques, Corrpro was able to identify other areas which had the potential for failure due to corrosion. In response to the survey results, the city embarked on a proactive upgrade and replacement program to prevent major failures in the future, thus saving its citizens countless tax dollars.