Industry Collaboration to Future Proof Water and Sewerage Infrastructure

Water utilities around the world manage water and sewerage infrastructure to provide clean and healthy water for our thriving communities.

In Australia, we have over 260,000 km of water and sewerage pipes – enough to go around the earth more than six times. About 70 per cent of it is underground and often forgotten, until there is a pipe burst under a major road proving to be a critical issue in our growing cities. There is an imperative to get smarter in understanding the rate of deterioration and risk of failure in these pipes to future proof our water and sewerage infrastructure.


An industry collaboration between Water Services Association of Australia (WSAA), WSP, UK Water Industry Research (UKWIR), South East Water (SEW) and Servelec Technologies is undertaking a project to support the water sector with innovative solutions needed for future pipe renewals and replacements. The outcomes will include development of tools to assist the industry in creating appropriate strategies for the management of Asbestos Cement (AC) pipes.


AC pipes were installed in water supply and sewerage reticulation systems across Australia from 1926 until well into the 1980s. Some of these pipes are deteriorating at a rate faster than pipelines of other materials and most are still operational. Water agencies across Australia are planning to replace these assets as failure rates increase with increased age. There are also environmental and work health and safety issues associated with maintenance of AC mains and maintenance operations and disposal of the pipe material.


Matthew Stahl, WSP’s Section Executive of Asset Management & Planning says, “We are proud to be involved with WSAA and other industry partners to help water utilities across Australia to deliver better outcomes and services to their customers and communities.


“We will draw on WSP’s local and international brainpower alongside of research and industry insights to gain a deep understanding of pipe deterioration and predictability of AC pipe failure to help water utilities make smarter investment decisions in delivering essential services to our thriving societies.”


The year-long project aims to:

  • Determine the predominant failure modes of AC pipes
  • Identify why and how failure occurs
  • Identify factors that influence the rate of deterioration and the risk of failure
  • Develop models for predicting deterioration and failure.


For more information please contact Matthew Stahl, Project Director or Yageshni Ragubeer, WSAA Project Coordinator.


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