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Design of Water Reticulation Pipelines


A major part of water supply design involved supply and reticulation pipelines. This involved tapping water from a high level water tank and gravitate flow to remote places where water demand is required for the community or population.

This section will provide guidelines on the design of pipelines.

Common Pipe Materials

Selection of pipe materials depend on availability of local products and intended use. Common materials include:

  • Ductile Iron Pipes
  • Cast Iron Pipes
  • PVC Pipes
  • HDPE Pipes
  • Concrete Pipes
  • Asbestos Cement Pipes

The pipe materials need to withstand high internal dynamic and static water pressures, internal water velocity and to a lesser external earth pressures and traffic loadings. Internal Pressures up to 10 bars (100 m of water) are common.

Selection of a suitable pipe material is the first step in design of pipeline system.

As a guide, HDPE Pipes are commonly used for smaller diameters, Ductile and Cast Iron Pipes for larger diameters and where strength and rigidity are required. There are no rigid rules for maximum or minimum sizes of pipes to use. Generally for Reticulation Pipelines where Fire-Fighting is also included, a minimum size of 100mm to 150mm diameters are satisfactory to avoid excessive head losses. Smaller sizes down to 50mm diameters can also be used for short distance supply. Maximum pipe sizes would also depend on ground/site constraints. Pipes are normally laid with other services on road verges or shoulders and very congested. As such sizes more than 1.2m should be avoided.

Common Pipe Fittings

Pipe Fittings are made from Ductile Iron, Cast Iron, and other metals such as bronze, and should be able to withstand 16 bars hydrostatic pressures. The range of pipe fittings are extensive, commonly used ones are:

  • Sluice Valves - provide opening and closing controls
  • Check Valves - provide directional flow controls
  • Wash Outs - provide cleansing of pipelines
  • Air Valves - provide discharge for excessive air pressures
  • Hydrants - extract water for fire-fighting, wash-outs
  • Tees - connections and branching off
  • Bends - allow rigid pipes to change direction

Pipe fittings need to be located at proper positions in the pipeline to suit operations and behavior. For guidelines on positioning of fittings, check out here

Typical Pipeline Hydraulics

Water Pipeline Hydraulics

The above chart is an actual pipeline hydraulics for a small community where water is tapped from a high level storage tank, and gravitate to remote places passing through low and high terrains. The above pipes use HDPE Type PE8, and has several pressure ratings to cope with different pressures. For more details about how this was designed, check out here

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Authur- Philip Goh (B.Sc, MIEM, P.Eng. MICE, C.Eng)
MEC Engineers, Civil & Structural Engineer




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Authur- Philip Goh (B.Sc, MIEM, P.Eng. MICE, C.Eng) MEC Engineers, Civil & Structural Engineer HP: 016-8672189, Email: Widget: email cloaker