Pipelines and Water Systems
A water distribution system is a network of pumps, pipelines, storage tanks, and other appurtenances. It must deliver adequate quantities of water at pressures sufficient for operating plumbing fixtures and firefighting equipment, yet it must not deliver water at pressures high enough to increase the occurrence of leaks and pipeline breaks. Pressure-regulating valves may be installed to reduce pressure levels in low-lying service areas. More than half the cost of a municipal water supply system is for the distribution network.
The pipeline system of a municipal water distribution network consists of arterial water mains or primary feeders, which convey water from the treatment plant to areas of major water use in the community, and smaller-diameter pipelines called secondary feeders, which tie in to the mains. Usually not less than 150 mm (6 inches) in diameter, these pipelines are placed within the public right-of-way so that service connections can be made for all potential water users. The pipelines are usually arranged in a gridiron pattern that allows water to circulate in interconnected loops; this permits any broken sections of pipe to be isolated for repair without disrupting service to large areas of the community. “Dead-end” patterns may also be used, but they do not permit circulation, and the water they provide is more susceptible to taste and odour problems because of stagnation.
A water distribution pipeline must be able to resist internal and external forces, as well as corrosion. Pipes are placed under stress by internal water pressure, by the weight of the overlying soil, and by vehicles passing above. They may have to withstand water-hammer forces; these occur when valves are closed too rapidly, causing pressure waves to surge through the system. In addition, metal pipes may rust internally if the water supply is corrosive or externally because of corrosive soil conditions.
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