Metal sewer pipes are highly susceptible to corrosion, much of which stems from bacterial hydrogen sulfide. Homeowners are encouraged to consider sewer pipe replacement for aging copper and cast iron pipes, to avoid sewer water leaks or sewer line collapse stemming from widepread corrosion damage. Replacing a domestic sewer lateral is expensive, and as you can imagine, municipal sewer replacement is a costly undertaking for municipalities. In many regions of the United States, aging sewer infrastructure is a ticking time bomb.

At A1 Sewer & Drain Services, we work with cities and townships in north New Jersey to provide municipal sewer repair and sewer replacement services, including trenchless solutions that minimize costs and disruption associated with sewer pipe and water main repair. To find out more, or for a free consultation with our experienced sewer repair contractors, call us any time at 201-645-0888.

Aging Sewer and Water Infrastructure in the United States

In recent years, a 103-year-old cast iron sewer pipe broke, causing disastrous flooding near the Boston Public Library. In Niagara Falls, NY, pipes installed during World War II constitute only 3% of the total pipes in the city, but account for 25% of the city’s municipal water pipe repair and replacement cost.

Throughout the United States, many municipal sewer and water pipes are quite old, and have begun to succumb to corrosion processes that could lead to leaks, groundwater and stormwater infiltration, reduced water pressure from city water main lines, and even catastrophic pipe collapse. In a recent EPA Drinking Water Infrastructure Needs Survey, it was discovered that municipalities across the United States could expect to spend upwards of $77 billion over the next 20 years to replace and rehabilitate water transmission and distribution systems. Similarly, a recent Clean Water Needs Survey found that within the next 20 years, US cities will need to spend about $10 billion upgrading aging sewer pipes, $22 billion for new municipal sewer line installation, and $45 billion for controlling overflows in combined sewer systems (in which stormwater from storm sewers joins wastewater from sanitary sewers en route to wastewater treatment plants).

Municipal Sewer Pipe Corrosion: A Major Cause of Failing Wastewater Infrastructure

According to EPA research, corrosion is one of the biggest causes of damage to municipal wastewater pipes, sometimes causing a pipe to fail in as little as 10 years in particularly acidic conditions. Overall, the average lifespan of a sewer or water pipe depends on several factors: the material it’s made from, the local soil conditions, the quality of installation, and more. Among engineers who design wastewater systems, a conservative estimate is considered to be about 50 years for the majority of pipe materials. However, sewer pipes are at particular risk of succumbing to bacterial hydrogen sulfide corrosion.

Unlike water in pressurized water mains, water in sewer pipes flows at a very low velocity. Inside the pipe, which is filled with organic material from human waste, the temperatures can be quite high. These conditions allow anaerobic bacteria to thrive, many of which oxidize hydrogen sulfide, a common sewer gas, into corrosive sulfuric acid. In 2012, scientists pinpointed bacteria from the genera Acidiphilium and Mycobacterium as the dominant sulfur oxidizing bacteria at the ceilings of pipes. Xanthomonadales, Burkholderiales, and Sphingobacteriales were found to dominate along the walls of sewer pipes. Both communities of bacteria contribute to biogenic hydrogen sulfide corrosion.

The speed and degree of corrosion can be influenced by local factors like electrical currents in the surrounding soil, sewage acidity, turbulence inside the pipes, and the presence of absence of metals and other toxic materials. In recent years, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has begun collecting specific data from municipalities across the country to help determine how long pipes can be expected to last in different areas. The objective of the project is to help municipalities find the best ways to maintain their local wastewater systems.

Municipal Sewer Repair & Replacement in NJ

At A1 Sewer & Drain Services, we provide municipal sewer repair, sewer replacement, and sewer pipe installation services throughout north New Jersey. In many cases, we can use trenchless solutions for pipe rehabilitation, helping reduce the expense and traffic disruptions associated with open cut sewer excavation. To find out more, or for a consultation and cost estimate, call us today at 201-645-0888.