Indian Wells Valley Water District Uses ServiceGuard® Composite Pipe for Water Service Line Replacements

ServiceGuard™Indian Wells Valley Water District (IWVWD) is located in Ridgecrest, CA and serves the infrastructure that supports the Naval Air Weapons Station located there. The IWVWD sources water from wells throughout a system that generally has good quality. In 2001, IWVWD began a chlorination disinfection program in anticipation of the groundwater treatment rule. With most of the system having been built-out in the 1980's and 1990's, IWVWD has a large number of HDPE (polyethylene) service lines installed in its system. Issues began to surface with service lines in 2004; just three years after IWVWD began its chlorine disinfection program. That year, failures involving service lines splitting and leaking at various locations along the alignments emerged. What started as a small number of failures ballooned over the years to average one per day or more. IWVWD began replacing service lines rather than repairing them after it noticed that it was repeatedly repairing the same lines. Today, IWVWD replaces about 2.5 service lines per day in the summer months of July and August, the peak "leak season." IWVWD averages more than 350 service line replacements per year at a cost of approximately $2,000 for each line.

Potable Water PE Service Line Performance History

In 1982 the Armed Forces Unified Facilities Guide Specifications for Water Distribution removed polyethylene water service line piping from use "because of widespread problems with the pipe." This withdrawal is still in place in the current standards, over thirty years later.(1)

In 1992 the AWWA Research Foundation authored a report that clearly identified cracking and oxidation of polyethylene and polybutylene water service lines as an issue of concern which requires further investigation.(2) The report conducted utility surveys as well as laboratory analysis to arrive at its conclusions. Current research continues to show that oxidation is still a life-limiting factor for polyethylene water service lines, even considering the newest resins in use today.

In 2008 the Water Research Foundation (formerly AWWA Research Foundation) issued a report examining the aging effects of potable water chlorine disinfection on HDPE and PEX pipe, as well as how chlorine-induced aging affects the rates of chemical permeation and desorption in those samples.(3) The report concluded that (i) "Utilities need to be aware that polyethylene pipes in distribution systems will age due to exposure to drinking water disinfectants and the resulting oxidation," (ii) "...pipes that 'aged' due to oxidation allow polar contaminants to permeate the pipe faster than if the pipe were new," and (iii) "Contaminant diffusivity and solubility in [the] PEX [tested] was 2-4 times faster than in any HDPE pipe examined."

Over the last ten years more than 25 papers and articles produced by independent laboratories, consultants, universities, and water providers have been published characterizing and detailing the process of oxidative degradation of polyolefin pipe in the presence of chlorine-based water disinfectants and the impacts it has on potable water distribution systems. For more information go to

Initially, IWVWD reverted to using copper tubing as a replacement pipe material, but it was not completely satisfied with the weight of the material, the risk of theft, and the volatile pricing of the semi-precious metal.

In early 2013, IWVWD was introduced to ServiceGuard® Composite Pipe and found it provided the combination of value required. ServiceGuard® Composite Pipe, made with FlowGuard® Bendable technology, provides the desired workability while resisting both internal and external corrosion that can result from chlorine or "hot soils" exposure.

Jason Lillion, Operations Superintendent for IWVWD, discussed the issues with IWVWD's existing service lines and its experience with ServiceGuard® Composite Pipe for the service line replacement program: "When I started in 1999 and into the early 2000's, we didn't have any issues. But after starting a chlorine disinfection program for our well-based water supply in 2001, we started to see leaks pop up around 2004. What started as a couple leaks here and there is now averaging more than two leaks per day in July and August each year. ServiceGuard® Composite Pipe provides a service line material that is less expensive and less attractive to thieves than copper tube and, unlike the HDPE that we are now replacing, it doesn't have the issues related to oxidative degradation."

Pipeline Details and Project Summary
Utility Owner: Indian Wells Valley Water District (IWVWD)
Location: Ridgecrest, CA
Program Summary: Approximately 350 services per year, approximately 9,000 LF
Pipe Size: 1" Copper Tube Size (CTS)

(1) United Facilities Guide Specifications (UFGS), latest version, May, 2013. Division 33 - Utilities, Section 33 11 00 - Water Distribution. Part 2 Products, 2.1 Water Distribution Main Materials, article 4.
(2) American Water Works Association Research Foundation, "Water Utility Experience with Plastic Service Lines." Denver, CO, 1992. ISBN 0-89867-616-9.
(3) Water Research Foundation, "Chemical Permeation/Desorption in New and Chlorine Aged Polyethylene Pipes." Project # 4138. Denver, CO, 2010. © 1996-2012 Water Research Foundation.

The name Jason Lillion does not imply that Jason Lillion endorses this product or service in his official capacity and does not imply an endorsement of any governmental entity.