American Society of Civil Engineers

Failure of Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe

by Andrew E. Romer, P.E., (Principal Engineer, Boyle Engineering Corporation, 1501 Quail Street, Newport Beach, California 92660-9020 E-mail:, Graham E. C. Bell, Ph.D., P.E., (President, Schiff Associates, 431 West Baseline Road, Claremont, CA 91711 E-mail:, and R. Dan Ellison, P.E., (Managing Engineer, Boyle Engineering Corporation, 5851 Thille Street, Suite 201, Ventura, CA 93003 E-mail:
Section: Condition Assessment and Failure Analysis, pp. 1-17, (doi:

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Document type: Conference Proceeding Paper
Part of: Pipelines 2007: Advances and Experiences with Trenchless Pipeline Projects
Abstract: Prestressed concrete cylinder pipe (PCCP) tends to be of large diameter, making many failures of this type of pipe relatively catastrophic and costly. To date, most research has been focused on PCCP inspection technologies and performance prediction in order to minimize the risk to utilities from failures. The performance of Prestressed Concrete Cylinder Pipe has been an item of interest to water utilities for a long time. Fifteen years ago, AWWA Research Foundation (AwwaRF) and the Bureau of Reclamation initiated a study, "Performance of Prestressed Concrete Pipe" that was unfortunately never published. AwwaRF has also funded studies to develop software that uses fuzzy logic (Kleiner, et al. 2005) to predict future PCCP behavior useful if a utility has sufficient data from actual field experience with PCCP. Another AwwaRF report (Romer, et al. 2005), developed methodologies, techniques, protocols, and technology for identifying the specific conditions that lead to corrosion failures of PCCP. That study included testing the effects of cathodic protection on pre-existing notches in PCCP reinforcing wires, and compared the accuracy of similar internal investigative tools for the detection of broken PCCP reinforcing wires. This paper presents preliminary results of the most recent AwwaRF funded study, intended to collect, codify, expand upon, and disseminate the results of the previous studies on PCCP failures. The project began with a survey of a selected group of water utilities with a fair amount of PCCP in their systems, selected carefully to represent the range of conditions and variables that affect PCCP performance across North America. The survey results, combined with a pre-existing database of over 450 PCCP failures, were statistically projected over the installed PCCP base of North America, and provide a surprising indicator of failures and failure rate of PCCP.

ASCE Subject Headings:
Concrete pipes