Leaking water, sewer and gas pipelines in Poland are raised to a higher standard by the use of plastic pipes. A water and sewer renovation programme has been developed using the plastic pipes to respond to the public demand for improvements.

When Poland faced the challenges of living up to EU standards prior to their entry in 2004 it became clear that the country was far behind in the matter of water infrastructure. Compared to Western Europe the water, sewer and gas pipelines were insufficient and the materials used were of poor quality. It was decided to build new pipelines and to renovate the existing ones.

The pioneer and leader in this matter was Poland's ninth largest city Bydgoszcz. With a population of 400,000 demanding an improvement in their water infrastructure, the city developed the Water and Sewer System Renovation and Rehabilitations Programme. Two of the goals of the programme were to renovate the 65,596 m of cast-iron and steel water mains in the city with diameters between DN400 and DN1000 and to build 27,195 m of new water pipelines made of plastic (DN 100 to DN300).

"The problem with the old pipes was a high failure frequency caused by a low pipe quality and defective joints meaning high water losses and water impurities. The PE plastic pipes on the other hand, have a high material quality, a lifetime extended to a minimum of 100 years, less restrictive requirements for laying pipelines - which means a lower cost - and a higher resistance" says Stanislaw Drzewieck, President of Bydgoszcz Waterworks and President of Polish Waterworks Chamber of Commerce. 

The pipes chosen for the project were both PVC and PE pipes, in a few cases with protective layers. Socket connections with rubber seals were used for the PVC pipes and welded joints (butt and electro fusion) were used for the PE pipes. The plastic pipes were conventionally installed on sand filling. Stanislaw Drzewieck is very satisfied with the plastic pipes: 

"Plastic pipes offer a wealth of new opportunities for installation technologies. Thanks to their special properties, a high flexibility, creeping and memory ability, old pipelines can be restored to full working order and new pipelines built using cost-effective narrow-trench and trenchless technologies. High corrosion resistance and durability contribute to higher reliability of water and sewer systems. It's good that there is plastic. If there were no plastic, we would have to invent it." 

Facts

  • The first part of the water and sewer system renovation and rehabilitation program was finished in 2002 and now part two is well on its way. The entire program is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2013.
     
  • The other goals of the program were the replacement of water pipes made of asbestos cement, construction of new sewer pipelines, and renovation of two-level sewer pipelines and construction of the storm water sewer system.
     
  • Sewer pipe systems for Bydgoszcz were of the S and N class; water pipes were PE 100 pipes SDR 17.
     
  • In the earlier Polish political system concrete, coal and steel consumption per capita indicated the country's economic growth. However, Poland realised the potential of plastic pipe technology as early as the 1960's. Even the first business platform in Europe for look and book plastic pipes was created in Poland.