AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe’s Resilience on Display After Tropical Depression Claudette

Left: Initial state of the 42-inch Fastite ductile iron line. Right: The 42-inch unrestrained Fastite joint pipe was stabilized with a beam and supporting straps after the collapse was discovered. While extremely deflected, the joints did not separate, and the line continued to deliver 26 million gallons of raw water daily to the local water treatment plant.

In June 2021, Tropical Depression Claudette rolled through west Alabama, dropping an estimated six inches of rain in the area in a short amount of time. The result was flash flooding, rising and swift-moving creeks and rivers, saturated ground and soggy roadsides.

When the line was temporarily taken out of service, the joints were replaced with 42-inch restrained joint AMERICAN Flex-Ring pipe.

During the storm, an embankment along a creek in the city of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, collapsed, revealing a 42-inch Fastite joint ductile iron pipeline that transports approximately 26 million gallons of raw or unfinished water a day to the city’s water treatment plant. The pipeline remained suspended over a ravine with about 15 feet of water below it. Even in the face of such pressure, the unrestrained, push-on joints did not separate, demonstrating the resiliency of ductile iron pipe.

“In the face of extreme deflection, the ductile iron pipe never leaked and remained in use until the city shut it off for repair work,” said AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe Sales Engineer Jim Ballintine. “This is another great testament of the strength of ductile iron pipe.”

Ballintine, along with Sales Engineers Bret Busby and Tony McLain, worked with the city and the contractor John Plott Company Inc. to provide solutions after the emergency occurred. In addition, ADIP Project Management Operations Manager Tristan Argo worked diligently to secure the materials needed to repair the line quickly.

To repair the line, John Plott Company stabilized the over-deflected joints with a steel beam and supporting straps. The creek bank itself was then stabilized with aggregate. Next, the line was temporarily taken out of service, and the joints were replaced with restrained joint AMERICAN Flex-Ring pipe. The restored pipeline was backfilled, and the line was soon placed back in service.

“John Plott performed the emergency repair with speed and skill,” Ballintine continued. “AMERICAN was proud to play an instrumental role in providing solutions to get this pipeline repaired and back in service.”