I live in the City of Toronto. 

When I think about the intricate network of buried water mains and sewer pipes under my feet that keep this city running smoothly and cleanly I can’t help but be amazed. 

There are thousands of kilometres of buried water mains and sewer pipes in Toronto. 

The cost to install and operate this sophisticated network of pipes is mind-boggling. 

While the City of Toronto is an extreme example, every municipality in Canada has at least a few kilometres of buried pipes that deliver potable water, transport wastewater, and supply water for fire-fighting. 

Although the pipes are out of sight, they are not out of mind for municipalities as they are paying for the operation, maintenance, repair, and eventual replacement of these buried pipes. 

When you compare these costs among the different pipe materials, Vinyl pipes save money every step of the way. 

Firstly, if your municipality does not currently allow Vinyl pipe, then approving it for your water main and sewer projects will immediately drive down the bid prices in your tenders. 

The more competition you have, the more your construction costs will drop. 

Secondly, the pipe with the longest design life will have the lowest replacement cost as it would be replaced less frequently than the lower design life pipe materials. 

A recent report from Utah State University gives Vinyl pipe a design life of 100+ years1, significantly greater than the design lives of traditional water main and sewer pipe materials. 

The superior smoothness of Vinyl sewer pipe compared to traditional sewer pipe materials such as concrete allows for a smaller diameter pipe to be installed at a lower slope to provide the same flow capacity. 

This equates to a narrower and shallower trench that would need to be excavated thus reducing installation costs. 

Vinyl’s incredibly smooth surface also means easy and less frequent pipe cleaning thus reducing your maintenance costs. 

When it comes to water mains, the largest operating expense for every municipality is the cost of energy to operate the pumps. 

Traditional water main pipe materials like cast iron or ductile iron start off fairly smooth on the inside, but over time they corrode and release particles which collect on the inside of the pipe walls. 

This phenomenon is known as tuberculation, which is very similar to how cholesterol collects in your arteries. 

This collection of corrosion by-products stuck to the inside of the pipe walls greatly reduces the smoothness of the pipe and requires more pumping energy to move the water through. 

As Vinyl pipe is non-corroding, tuberculation will never happen and the pipe will forever stay just as smooth as it was on its first day. 

With smoother pipe, less pumping energy is required, therefore operating costs would be reduced. 

1 Folkman, Steven; “PVC Pipe Longevity Report – Affordability & The 100+ Year Benchmark Standard”; Utah State University, Buried Structures Laboratory; May 2014

Another significant expense for water utilities is water main repair. 

The cost of the repairs alone are huge but sometimes a broken water main can cause severe damage to residences and businesses, especially if it takes a long time to close a nearby valve after a break. 

Municipalities are liable for the damage resulting from a broken water main and are understandably scared to death of lawsuits if any of their water main breaks cause property damage. 

Unfortunately sometimes breaks happen, no matter how careful you are. 

Vinyl pipe may break as well, however in a recent study conducted by Utah State University, Vinyl water main pipe was determined to have the lowest break frequency of all pipe materials in use today in North America2. 

So by using Vinyl pipe for your water mains you will effectively reduce your repair costs because, as determined by Utah State University, Vinyl pipe breaks less frequently than all other water main pipe materials.

So when you compare the various costs of the different pipe materials with regards to installation, operation, maintenance, repair, and replacement, Vinyl pipe wins every step of the way.