Science Inventory

Environmental Impact of Asbestos Cement Pipe Renewal Technologies (WaterRF Report 4465)


Matthews, J., R. Stowe, AND J. Lueke. Environmental Impact of Asbestos Cement Pipe Renewal Technologies (WaterRF Report 4465). Water Research Foundation, Denver, CO, 2015.


The primary objective of this project is to provide water utilities with reliable performance, cost, and environmental impact data relating to asbestos cement (AC) pipe renewal practices. This was accomplished through an investigation of renewal practices and regulatory standards, demonstration of innovative renewal technologies, and evaluation of the environmental impact of water distribution rehabilitation techniques related to the rehabilitation and renewal of AC pipe. AC pipe accounts for approximately 15% of the water main pipe materials in North America (AWWA 2004). Renewal activities are needed to maintain these pipes, since deterioration results in impaired water quality, reduced hydraulic capacity, and higher leakage rates (Hu et al. 2009). Water main renewal has historically been performed by open cut replacement, but with a current annual replacement rate of 0.5%, pipe that is designed to last 50 to 100 years is being expected to last 200 years (Morrison et al. 2013). Concerns over the environmental impact of AC pipe renewal and the associated regulations are an area of confusion for most water utility managers (Griffin 2009). Confusion around these issues partly led the Water Research Foundation (WRF) to commission a project to study the Long-Term Performance of AC Pipe, including a study of approaches for renewal (Hu et al. 2013). This study in part identified the need to conduct environmental assessments of these renewal approaches. Several available technologies such as cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) lining, sprayed-in-place pipe (SIPP) lining, pipe bursting, and pipe reaming have been adopted primarily from the wastewater rehabilitation market for use in water distribution systems. There is concern that when these technologies are used on AC pipe, asbestos fibers may become friable causing a potential health hazard to workers and the public. This report addresses concerns with AC pipe renewal technologies and regulatory standards as well as existing knowledge and data gaps.


This report summarizes asbestos regulations within the United States and presents current utility practices for a select number of utilities in North America and Australia. In addition, two real-world renewal demonstrations are presented as case studies examining the impact of pipe bursting and cured-in-place-pipe (CIPP) on the environment. Input and data were gathered from the following sources of information: (1) Literature: legislative documents, research papers, and technical reports were reviewed and synthesized; (2) Consultation with state regulatory agencies: state and regional regulatory agencies contributed to the project by responding to requests and providing feedback on asbestos regulations; (3) Facilitated webinar: utility operators, consultants, and industry experts attended a webinar to discuss their experience with AC pipe and provide recommendations for the demonstration; and (4) Technology demonstrations: actual demonstration and evaluation of two rehabilitation technologies on AC pipes.

Record Details:

Product Published Date: 04/29/2015
Record Last Revised: 09/22/2015
OMB Category: Other
Record ID: 309294