At the end of October, Tucson Water’s Pipeline Protection Program team is conducting an internal inspection of our largest pipe, a 96” prestressed concrete cylinder pipeline in southwest Tucson. Here are six interesting facts about this massive piece of infrastructure:
1) This pipe is one of the primary ways water is transmitted from Avra Valley, where we recharge, store, and recover Colorado River water, and deliver it to the Tucson basin. More than 50% of our customers’ drinking water flows through this 96” pipe every year.
2) The pipe is more than two miles long. Its internal diameter is 96“ (eight feet). Even the tallest University of Arizona basketball player could stand up in it.
3) The 96” pipe is 31 years old on average. When it needs maintenance, we repair it 90% of the time versus replacing it.
4) The 96” pipe is part of Tucson Water’s Pipeline Protection Program (PPP) that uses 24/7 remote monitoring with a special concrete pipe design and a fiber optic cable system. This innovative monitoring system recently alerted our PPP team to pipe segments that were becoming more susceptible to breaks, which is why we are conducting the inspection. The PPP team has prevented three potential 96” pipe failures in the past, reducing risk and water loss, and saving millions of dollars in emergency repairs.
5) When the 96” pipe is out of service, it generally does not affect Tucson Water customers because our redundant delivery system ensures customers will continue to get safe, high-quality water. Occasionally, customers may see water that is cloudy or has sand in it when we first turn on groundwater wells to provide water when the 96" pipe is out of service.