Aging infrastructure affects water pipelines across the nation and can cause serious complications in service. That’s why San Jose Water is taking proactive measures by implementing new piping standards in 2016 to maintain the community’s water infrastructure and ensure safe, high quality, and reliable water service for its one million customers in the greater San Jose metropolitan area.
Why is SJW upgrading to zinc-coated piping?
Because older pipelines are more likely to leak, they have the potential to threaten strained water economies like that of San Jose, making the issue a priority for SJW. SJW began upgrading to zinc-coated pipes in 2016 by obtaining more than 3,000 feet of new piping for its first project. This pipe has been adopted as the company’s new standard and will be eventually deployed system-wide as part of SJW’s water main replacement program to ensure safe, high quality, and reliable water service.
The new pipes feature zinc-coating on the exterior, which protects against corrosion. This is an improvement on the previous industry standard of uncoated iron pipes that are exposed to soil. There is also an added benefit that is unique to zinc: Charged zinc ions migrate to scratched areas naturally, so pipes are less susceptible to corrosion damage than those composed of other materials. Additionally, the new piping includes a V-bio® enhanced polyethylene encasement wrap, which discourages the growth of harmful bacteria that can damage the pipe.
Maintaining San Jose’s water infrastructure
Miles of pipeline can make it difficult to fix leaks quickly, so infrastructure maintenance is key. SJW will replace about 25 miles of piping a year. As water mains are installed or replaced, the new zinc-coated ductile piping will be used. The zinc piping is expected to fare better against corrosive soil conditions in the San Jose area and sets a new standard for water pipes.
Preserving a precious water resource
SJW’s engineering staff regularly reviews new materials and implements changes to continue to deliver safe, high-quality and reliable water service. The pipes are expected to provide excellent service for about 100 years (the zinc coating maximizes the life span of an average pipe). What’s more, the initial cost of the zinc-coated pipe is offset by its longevity. The upgrades are in accordance with the capital budget.
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