What Happened to Water and Gas Lines?

By now everyone has heard about the massive devastation caused by both hurricanes Harvey and Irma.  Nightly news reports have been showing us how much damage can be caused by hurricane force winds not to mention the water damage caused by the flooding rain.  Much of the reporting has been focused on people that have been displaced as a result of the storms.  But, not much if anything has been said about the hidden damage to the infrastructure.  Yes, we are all aware of damaged roads and downed power lines.  But what about the damage to the water supply, storm drains and sewer systems?  Because of all the debris and mud, flowing water will carry those solid substances through pipelines to pumps.  The impact can cause damage to impellers, valves, and filters.  Debris can also become trapped inside pipelines where the pipelines bend causing a backup, if not rupture, and possibly necessitating the replacement of line segments.  Before potable water service can be restored, all contaminants will have to be removed and the flow of water through drainage systems will have to be confirmed before the public can be allowed access.   What about natural gas service?  Gas lines can either be routed above or below ground.  The main problem to consider is sink holes.  This is especially true in Florida.  Unsupported gas or water lines can fail if the ground beneath collapses to form a large crater.  With as much as rain as Texas and Florida got during the storms, it would be prudent for utility engineers to be especially mindful of the potential hazards that could develop if sink holes start appearing.

 

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About R.J. Hill, P.E.
R. J. Hill is the author of two blogs: R.J. Hill Consulting and the Descendants of James Alexander Hill. Mr. Hill is a registered professional (mechanical) engineer with over 39 years of experience, 34 years in private practice. Please visit www.rjhill.com to see the kinds of forensic investigations that Mr. Hill performs.

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