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Story Discussion: How to re-engineer the pipe network in Flint, Michigan

Story Discussion: How to re-engineer the pipe network in Flint, Michigan

(OP) writer Joan Thompson's article on the Flint Michigan water crisis has been published at:

What Happened to the Water in Flint and Why It Matters Even More Today


What happened in Flint is a grim reminder that when proper engineering protocol is not followed, the consequences can be as horrific as children being poisoned by lead.

In April 2014, the water source for the city of Flint, Mich., was switched. Instead of bringing in drinking water from the city of Detroit, corrosive water from the nearby Flint River was treated at the local plant. The water was then pumped through a 100-year-old distribution system, breaking down pipes in its wake and arriving at people’s taps brown, smelly and unfit to drink....

Engineers, we want to hear from you:

- The Virginia Tech team is working on figuring out where the optimal places are to cut off service and minimize water travel time. Are there any engineering software programs that are helpful for this type of application? In your experience, are there any issues that the team should look out for, like the possibility of increased pressure for the pipes that will continue to distribute water?

- Replacing all of the mains and service lines is an unpleasant and expensive solution – so are there any better options for replacing a 550-mile-long network of pipes in Flint, Michigan? What pipe rehabilitation technologies are the most promising? Are there any types of pipe coatings where implementing them won’t aggravate the lead metals in the joints and fixtures?

RE: Story Discussion: How to re-engineer the pipe network in Flint, Michigan

Most likely there are areas of Flint that are abandoned and no longer require water service. This areas should be cut off from service.

A simple water modeling of the Flint System will provide the answer.

There are no simple solutions to replacing the pipes. Lead piping installed prior to 1920 should have been replaced years ago.

RE: Story Discussion: How to re-engineer the pipe network in Flint, Michigan

Look at the use of phosphoric acid to coat the pipe interior. Lots of studies and real life large scale implementation have been done. I even did it here in Toronto in all four of their water treatment plants. The City has been monitoring the results and has their own testing program and pilot plant to mimic the distribution system

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