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A History of Resilience in Guatemala City

Nov 2 , 2023
AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe, Water and Wastewater
Left: A Pipe Progress article from the late 1930s provides details about the Teocinte Aqueduct. Right: In Guatemala City, pipe is often installed aboveground due to volcanic and earthquake activity. The area has eight active volcanoes, and 89 earthquakes were reported in the past year.
Photo of an 8-inch ACIPCO pipe near the U.S. Embassy in Guatemala City. This iron pipe remains in service today.

In the 1930s about 24 miles (128,430 feet) of 18- and 24-inch Mono-Cast Doublex Simplex pipe was installed in Guatemala City, Guatemala, to modernize the city’s water supply system. Fast forward more than 85 years and these pipelines are still in service and meeting the needs of the city’s population of almost three million people.

Earlier this year, Empagua, the water supplier for much of Guatemala City, reached out to ACIPCO International Sales Manager M.J. Lyons about the pipe that was installed in the city in the 1930s as stock pipe was needed for repairs. The pipe was originally used in the Teocinte Aqueduct project, where water was delivered by gravity from the Teocinte River, which is located in the mountains 16 miles southeast of Guatemala City. Because of the mountainous terrain and various elevations, pressure on the supply line varied from 100 to 250 psi, and the pressure in the distribution system ranged from 50 to 75 psi.

“ACIPCO pipe projects in Guatemala span from the early 1930s to late 1950s, and we provided pipe throughout Central America at that time,” Lyons said. “Some of the pipe in Guatemala City was buried, but a lot of it was installed aboveground.”

The reason for this aboveground installation is the volcanic and earthquake activity in this part of the world. The area has eight active volcanoes, and 89 earthquakes were reported in the past year.

Despite these challenges, the pipeline remains in operation today. “This project shows the resiliency of iron pipe,” Lyons said. “This pipe was shipped in 1936-1937 and installed not far from the U.S. Embassy. It is still active and providing valuable water to people across Guatemala City.”

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