A difficult battle to prevent ancient pipes from causing havoc in Tucson

tucsonMany people take for granted that a city’s infrastructure is taken care of by the relevant authorities, and that important work is carried out in a timely fashion to prevent serious incidents. However, Tucson seems to be a city that has a serious problem on its hands – aging pipes.

According to Tucson News Now, there were “265 water main breaks in 2014, followed by 307 in 2015”, which is an incredible number for a city of its size, and a serious inconvenience for many residents on a regular basis.

The problem comes down to money. The city allots $10 million per year to maintain the system, which is nowhere near the amount required to keep up with the quantity of aging pipes that desperately need replacing having passed their safe operating age.

The type of high pressure pipes installed to carry water and waste water have an expected operating life of around 50 years (and that can be reduced even further by various soil factors), meaning many of the city’s pipes are well beyond their safe operating period. Tucson was primarily built in the 50’s and 60’s, some 70 years ago, and alarmingly, a lot of the original pipes have never been replaced since the initial development. Read more about the whole history of Tucson here.

Tucson suffered two high profile catastrophic breaks around the turn of the millennium, causing devastation on a large scale and costing millions of dollars to put right. The sudden break of a 96” water pipe in 1999 alone was said to cost Tucson Water around $5 million dollars by the time it was completely resolved. Since then, utilities have been trying to focus on prevention rather than cure.

However, if there is a damaged water pipe in your house, this can be completely replaced for an affordable price and you should could ASAP a Tucson local plumbing company. Visit plumber-tucson.com for more info.


Tucson Water has invested heavily in a new technology that constantly monitors Tucson’s larger pipes for signs of stress or weakness, and has already successfully prevented what could have been a major disaster in 2012. On that occasion, thanks to the early warning from the system, they could get to the affected area before it had a chance to rupture, preventing the massive disruption that would have happened (and saving the company untold amounts of money in the process).

However, this system cannot predict leaks in the piping systems of the city, which are far harder to check for weakness and impending breaks. These can still happen at any time, and are still costly for those affected. According to Tucson News Now, a recent relatively small break on 22nd Street would still cost the company in excess of $100,000 to put right. People may not realize, but the company is not only responsible for replacing the pipe, but also replacing everything that has suffered water damage, including flower beds and turfed areas.

Tucson is clearly a city in need of a lot of investment to bring the hundreds of miles of aged underground pipework up to standard. Currently, the water companies levy a modest 8% annual increase on water rates to consumers for upkeep of the infrastructure, however this will not allow them to replace all of the pipework at once. It seems Tucson will be in for many more years of sporadic and unpredictable water line breaks in the future, causing disruption to many.

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