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Case Study: Municipal Water Infrastructure Pipe Replacement

PVC Piping Provides the Ideal Material and Means for Replacing Aging Pipes in Brownwood, Texas

Situation Analysis

Brownwood, Texas, a city of 20,000 incorporated in 1884, needed an economical method of replacing the city’s miles of aging water pipes and clay sewer mains. David
Harris, Brownwood’s Director of Utilities, researched and evaluated a variety of different pipe materials and installation.

“The method chosen had to be economical and noninvasive to provide the least disturbance to homes, businesses and roadways,” says Harris.

Application Insight

Harris chose a technology known as the static pipe bursting method to replace approximately 50 miles of clay sewer mains with restrained-joint polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe. Pipe bursting techniques fracture the existing pipe, displace the fragments outward and pull a new pipe in to replace the old pipe. The technique is designed to reduce environmental disturbance and inconvenience to nearby residents.

“We chose the pipe bursting method because the traditional open-cut method requires moving sidewalks, pavement and landscaping and is cost-prohibitive. The open-cut method also has negative social and environmental factors, notwithstanding the surface and traffic disruptions,” Harris says. “PVC piping and the pipe bursting method helped reduce costs over the open-cut excavation method. Needed excavations are 85% less than an open-cut job. In many cases, homeowners and business owners don’t even know the new PVC piping has been laid because it reduces the need for backfilling and re-landscaping after a project.”

The town installed PVC pipe, manufactured by North American Specialty Products, designed specifically for pipe bursting and other trenchless applications. North American Specialty Products CertaFlo™ Greenline™ PVC pipe features Certa-Lok™, the restrained joint system designed for use in gravity sewer systems.

Vinyl Benefits

PVC piping reduces pumping energy requirements; exhibits lower breakage rates, is completely recyclable, consumes less manufacturing energy with virtually no waste, and on this project, lowered environmental impact over opencut methods. Additionally, PVC pipe inhibits the growth of biofilm and is highly durable, with the American Water Works Association Research Foundation reporting a projected life expectancy of more than 110 years.

“Vinyl has a better flow performance; it doesn’t shrink or swell with temperature; it is more rigid; it holds up better than HDPE (high-density polyethylene); it is easier to install; and it doesn’t have to be fused. You can use snap-on PVC saddles to quickly add a tap,” says Harris.

The static pipe bursting with restrained-joint PVC pipe has not only made sewer main replacement faster; it also lowered costs.

“The choice was clear, for now and the future, as pipe bursting with PVC pipe is the only method capable of increasing the diameter of an existing pipe for future use,” concludes Harris.

  • Owner: City of Brownwood, TX
  • Date Completed: Ongoing
  • Size of Project: 8 miles of PVC pipe to date
  • General Contractor: City of Brownwood, TX
  • Vinyl Product Features: North American Specialty Products CertaFlo™ Greenline™ PVC pipe featuring Certa-Lok.
  • Equipment Distributor: TT Technologies
  • Vinyl Benefits: PVC piping improves pumping and water flow efficiency, resists the accumulation of potentially harmful biofilm, consumes less manufacturing energy with virtually no waste, is completely recyclable and lowers environmental impact over opencut methods. PVC pipe is also highly durable and resists corrosion in acidic or chemically reactive environments.


Information for this study prepared through interviews and research conducted by Interline Creative Group, Inc. on behalf of The Vinyl Institute