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USEFUL TIPS AND TOOLS FOR DESIGN OF DUCTILE IRON


AND PVC PIPELINES
Roger Beieler1 and Amie Roshak2
1

Senior Technologist, CH2M HILL, Suite 500, 1100 112th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA
98004. Tel: (425) 453-5000, Email: roger.beieler@ch2m.com
2
Water Engineer, CH2M HILL, Suite 500, 1100 112th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA
98004. Tel: (425) 453-5000, Email: amie.roshak@ch2m.com
ABSTRACT
This paper discusses tips and tools to assist with the design of ductile iron and
polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pressure pipelines including a summary of reference
materials useful to designers; a discussion on available sizes, pressure classes, and
joint types; a discussion of software tools and their use; and several design
considerations related to topics on pipe fittings, installing pipe on curves, thrust
block designs, installing pipe inside of casings, backfilling the trench, and
hydrostatic pressure testing.
The topics presented should benefit the water conveyance community by providing
useful information to engineers, designers, and constructors of ductile iron and PVC
pipe systems. Some of the basic information should be of help to staff who are
unfamiliar with ductile iron and PVC pipelines, while other information should help
sharpen the skills of experienced designers.
USEFUL REFERENCE MATERIALS
There are numerous reference materials available to designers, specifiers, and
installers of ductile iron and PVC pipelines. They include references published by
the American Water Works Association (AWWA), trade organizations such as the
Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association (DIPRA) and the Uni-Bell PVC Pipe
Association, and pipe manufacturers.
Reference Materials for Ductile Iron Pipelines

Manual M41 Ductile Iron Pipe and Fittings published by AWWA


Installation Guide For Ductile Iron Pipe published by DIPRA
Technical Publications by DIPRA
Technical Bulletins and information published by pipe suppliers

Reference Materials for PVC Pipelines

Manual M23 PVC Pipe Design and Installation published by AWWA


Handbook of PVC Pipe Design and Construction published by Uni-Bell
Technical Bulletins published by pipe suppliers

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STANDARDS COMMONLY USED FOR CONVEYANCE PIPELINES

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There are several nationally recognized standards used for manufacturing and
installing both ductile iron and PVC pipelines. The most commonly used standards
include:
Common Standards for Ductile Iron Pipelines

AWWA C110, Ductile-Iron and Gray-Iron Fittings


AWWA C105, Polyethylene Encasement for Ductile-Iron Pipe Systems
AWWA C150, Thickness Design of Ductile Iron Pipe
AWWA C151, Ductile Iron Pipe, Centrifugally Cast
ASTM A746, Ductile Iron Gravity Sewer Pipe
AWWA C153, Ductile Iron Compact Fittings for Water Service
AWWA C600, Installation of Ductile Iron Mains and Their Appurtenances

Common Standards for PVC Pipelines

AWWA C900, PVC Pipe and Fabricated Fittings, 4 Through 12


AWWA C905, PVC Pipe and Fabricated Fittings, 14 Through 48
ASTM D1785, PVC Pipe, Schedules 40, 80, and 120
ASTM D2241, PVC Pressure-Rated Pipe
ASTM D3034, PVC Sewer Pipe and Fittings
ASTM F679, PVC Large-Diameter Plastic Gravity Sewer Pipe and Fittings
AWWA C605, Underground Installation of PVC Pressure Pipe and Fittings

AVAILABLE SIZES
Ductile iron pipe is available in nominal sizes from 3-inches to 64-inches. PVC pipe
included in the AWWA standards for water distribution and conveyance is available
in nominal sizes from 4-inches to 48-inches. PVC pipe included in the ASTM
standards for gravity sewers is available in nominal sizes from 3-inches to 36-inches.
Smaller diameter PVC pipe manufactured to other ASTM standards is available, but
is not used frequently for conveyance projects. One manufacturer began producing
54- and 60-inch diameter PVC pipe for water conveyance in early 2014.
For a given nominal diameter, both ductile iron pipe and PVC pipe covered by the
AWWA standards have constant outside diameters, regardless of the pressure class
and wall thickness. This allows standard fittings to be used on any one diameter of
AWWA pipe regardless of the pressure class and wall thickness. PVC pipe, as shown
in Table 1, manufactured to various standards, may have different outside diameters
depending upon the standard used.
Designers should use care when mixing pipe manufactured to different standards on
a project or when selecting a coupling to connect a new pipe to an existing pipe.
Special couplings may be required for the connections if the outside diameters differ.

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Table 1. Examples of Variation in Outside Diameter of PVC Pipe

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Standard Used
AWWA C900 and C905 with ductile iron pipe ODs
ASTM D1785 (Schedules 40, 80, & 120) ODs
ASTM D2241 (Plastic Irrigation Pipe PIP)
ASTM F679 and D 3034 (Sewer Pipe)

Nominal Diameter in
Inches
6-inch
18-inch
Outside Diameter in Inches
6.900
19.50
6.625
18.00
6.140
18.70
6.275
18.70

PRESSURE CLASS AND WALL THICKNESS SELECTION


Ductile Iron Pipelines - Ductile iron pipe is available in several pressure classes. In
1991, the AWWA C151 standard introduced standard pressure classes (150 to
350 psi working pressure). Prior to this, thickness classes were identified by the
50-series classification (Class 50 to Class 56). Pipe manufactured to the 50-series
thickness classes is still available, and is referred to as Special Class pipe. Class 52
pipe was commonly used for municipal water projects, and is still required by some
owners.
PVC Pipelines The C900 AWWA standard commonly used for municipal water
supply includes three working pressure classes 165 psi, 235 psi, and 305 psi. These
pressure classes correspond to a dimension ratio (DR) of 25, 18, and 14 respectively.
The dimension ratio (DR) or standard dimension ratio (SDR) is defined as the pipes
outside diameter divided by the wall thickness. The AWWA C905 standard includes
eight pressure classes 80 psi (DR 51) to 305 psi (DR 14). The ASTM standard
(D2241) commonly used for irrigation pipe includes standard dimension ratios
(SDR) from 13.5 to 64. Commonly used working pressure ratings for D2241 pipe
include 125 psi (SDR 32.5), 100 psi (SDR 41), and 80 psi (SDR 51).
External Loading In addition to consideration of internal pressure, external loads
due to soil weight, groundwater pressure, and live loads must be evaluated. The
external loads may control the required wall thickness, particularly in unusually deep
or shallow conditions. Increasing the E value (a measure of soil stiffness) of the
embedment material, possibly by the use of flowable fill, should be considered as an
alternative to increasing the wall thickness. The procedure for determining the
required wall thickness for external loading is described in the AWWA manuals
referenced previously.
FITTINGS
Ductile Iron Fittings There are two AWWA standards for ductile iron fittings
C110 and C153. The fittings manufactured to the C153 standard are referred to as
compact fittings and are much more commonly used in municipal applications.
According to the C153 standard, the working pressures are different for the smaller
diameters vs. the larger diameters. Fittings with diameters 3- through 24-inches are
rated for 350 psi, fittings with diameters 30- through 48-inches are rated for 250 psi,

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and fittings 54- through 64-inches are rated for 150 psi.
PVC Fittings The AWWA C900 and C905 standards allow fittings to be directly
fabricated from PVC pipe. The pipe segments used to fabricate the fitting can be
joined using solvent cement, butt fusion, or thermal welding. The fabricated fittings
are rated at the same pressure as the pipe and are factory tested to two times the
pressure class. Some fabricators wrap the PVC fittings with fiberglass. Injectionmolded PVC fittings conforming to the AWWA C907 standard are also available in
sizes 4- through 12-inch. Many designers specify ductile iron fittings for use on
projects with PVC pipe manufactured to the AWWA standards.
JOINT TYPES
Ductile Iron Pipe The most common joint types for ductile iron pipelines used for
conveyance include push-on, mechanical, flanged, and restrained. The majority of
pipe sold today has push-on joints. Pipe with mechanical joints is not commonly
used and has limited availability. Pipe with flanged ends is commonly used to
connect to valves and flanged fittings. The most common joint type for fittings (such
as elbows, tees, and reducers) is the mechanical joint (MJ). The MJ fittings slip
together with minimal force (compared to push-on joints), and it is not necessary to
bevel the pipe spigot ends on field-cut pipe.
Some municipalities require all ductile iron pipe to be restrained joint (RJ). This
avoids the concern that another utility may be installed in the area and require
excavation behind a thrust block. One supplier estimated that 20 to 40 percent of the
pipe his company provides is restrained joint. For RJ pipe in 12-inch or smaller
diameter, about 80 percent is restrained using locking gaskets, and 20 percent is
restrained using proprietary mechanical locking systems. For RJ pipe with diameters
between 14- and 24-inch, about half of the pipe is restrained with locking gaskets
and half with mechanical locking systems. For pipe furnished with restrained joints
in diameters above 30-inch, the joints are restrained with mechanical locking
systems, rather than locking gaskets.
PVC Pipe - For PVC pipe, the most common joint has been rubber gasket push-on.
Solvent weld joints are also available, but are not commonly used in the sizes over 4inch diameter. Flanged coupling adaptors or flange by MJ fittings are commonly
used when connecting PVC pipe to flanged valves. PVC fittings are available with
gasketed bell ends, solvent weld bell ends, flanged ends, and other configurations.
Butt fusion joints are also available for use with a specific formulation of PVC pipe.
Restrained joints are discussed in a subsequent paragraph.
LININGS AND COATINGS
Ductile Iron Pipe The standard interior lining and exterior coating for ductile iron
pipe is a cement mortar lining and an asphaltic coating. A small percentage of
owners require a double thickness of cement mortar lining to provide extra
protection against corrosion due to soft water (water containing little or no dissolved
salts of calcium or magnesium). Prior to 1995, the AWWA standards required that an
asphaltic seal-coat be applied to the mortar lining. The current AWWA standard

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allows the manufacturer the option to apply a seal-coat lining, and most suppliers do
apply the seal-coat as it slows down the loss of moisture in the mortar.
The 1 mil thick exterior asphaltic coating protects against rusting and provides some
reduction of friction for joint assembly. In conditions with aggressive soils, many
designers require the pipe be polyethylene-encased in accordance with the AWWA
C105 standard. For sewer applications, where the presence of hydrogen sulfide may
result in damage to the cement mortar lining, a high-solids, chemically cured epoxy
lining is frequently required on both the pipe and fittings. Epoxy coating is also
occasionally specified on the pipe exterior if the soils are aggressive.
PVC Pipe PVC pipe is not furnished with a lining or coating. For PVC pipe
exposed to sunlight, some designers require two coats of water-based acrylic paint be
applied to the exterior. In order to improve adhesion, the surface of the pipe should
be lightly sanded prior to paint application.
SOFTWARE TOOLS
Several tools are available to assist with the design of ductile iron and PVC pipe
systems. These include programs to compute the required restrained joint lengths in
areas where unbalanced thrust forces exist, programs to compute the required wall
thickness, programs to compute support spacing, and programs to calculate hydraulic
friction loss. Both DIPRA and the Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association allow free
downloads of their software programs.
DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS
Thrust Blocks Equations and guidelines for sizing thrust blocks are included in the
AWWA design manuals and several manufacturers installation guides. There is no
difference in the thrust block sizing procedure for PVC pipe compared to ductile iron
pipe. The AWWA M41 Manual provides recommended relative dimensions of thrust
blocks that are not included in many other manuals.
Restrained Joints There are several types of restrained joints offered for both
ductile iron and PVC pipe. Some products include stainless steel gripper teeth in the
gasket or in a separate unit adjacent to the gasket to provide restraint. These products
are available for either mechanical joints or push-on joints. Other products use
gripper teeth or wedge-type grippers that can be tightened to restrain the pipe. Some
products work in conjunction with tie-rods across the joint. Some of the wedge-type
grippers allow the wedge to move slightly within a pocket and hence, a limited
amount of post-assembly angular deflection is permissible.
For ductile iron pipe, proprietary restrained joint systems with locking mechanisms
are also available. These systems include a weld bead or a bar that is shop-welded to
the spigot end. These joints are assembled by pushing the spigot end into the bell,
then inserting locking segments. In certain cases, it is recommended that the joint be
pulled to remove any slack. In areas subject to seismic movement, leaving the line
with some slack in the joints may be preferable. These proprietary systems generally
allow some joint deflection after the assembly is made. The systems that do allow
deflection include a circular face on the bell end that uniformly distributes the thrust

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force around the perimeter of the joint, rather than causing a point load.
Required Restrained Joint Lengths Based on Soil Type The AWWA M41
Manual includes seven different soil designations, each with different parameters
related to the required restrained joint length to resist thrust forces. The soil
designation is a significant factor in computing the restrained joint length as shown
in Table 2. The recommended restrained joint length is presented for a 24-inch
diameter ductile iron pipe with no polyethylene encasement, a dead end fitting such
as a valve, 5 feet of cover, a Type 5 trench, and a test pressure of 150 psi. The
recommended restrained joint lengths vary from 73 feet to 132 feet.
Technical specifications frequently state the allowable gradation of the pipe zone
material within a fairly broad range. Depending on the material provided by the
contractor, the material may be considered clean sand or gravel, silty gravel, silty
sand, or cohesive-granular. On some projects, contractors will request a change order
allowing them to use native material for the pipe zone, and perhaps offer a
significant cost reduction to the owner. Even if imported pipe zone material is
provided, as the pipe is pressurized, the thrust force will be resisted by both the pipe
zone material and the native soil around the pipe zone of the backfilled trench.
Because there are several unknowns regarding the material that will resist the thrust
forces, some designers check the required restrained joint length for all the possible
materials and select the most conservative length.
Table 2. Comparison of Restrained Joint Lengths with Different Soils Based on
Recommendations in AWWA Manual M41

Soil Designation Based on AWWA M41


Clay 1 (Clay of medium to low plasticity, <25% course
particles)
Silt 1 (Silts of medium to low plasticity, <25% course
particles)
Clay 2 (Clay of medium to low plasticity with sand or gravel,
25 to 50% course particles)
Silt 2 (Silt of medium to low plasticity with sand or gravel)

Required Restrained
Joint Length
73 feet
132 feet
73 feet
132 feet

Cohesive-Granular (>50% course particles)

111 feet

Sand Silt (Sand or gravel with silt, >50% course particles)

127 feet

Clean Sand or Clean Gravel (>95% course particles)

87 feet

Assumptions: 24-inch ductile iron pipe, hydrostatic pressure of 150 psi, bare pipe (no
polywrap), 5 feet of cover, Type 5 Trench, 1.5 safety factor, and a dead end fitting
Curved Alignments Within certain limits, both PVC and ductile iron pipe can be
installed on curved alignments without the use of elbows. If the curve is made using
deflection at the joints, designers can use pipe lengths shorter than the standard pipe

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lengths to obtain tighter bend radii.


Ductile iron pipe joints, such as push-on joints, mechanical joints, and certain
restrained joints can be deflected a few degrees after assembly. Refer to the pipe
manufacturers literature for the allowable deflection based on the joint type and the
pipe diameter. Design engineers frequently limit the design deflection to 75 percent
of the manufacturers recommended value, as this allows some tolerance for
unplanned conditions during construction since small corrections are commonly
needed vertically and horizontally at most joints.
Curved alignments with PVC pipe can be accomplished by either bending the pipe,
or under certain conditions, by deflecting the joints. AWWA Manual 23 and several
manufacturers recommend that construction machinery not be used to bend PVC
pipe. The bending should be accomplished manually, as the bending force can be
better controlled. Larger diameter PVC pipe requires a significant force to bend the
pipe, and bending these pipes is generally not practical. Unlike ductile iron pipe
joints, PVC pipe joints with rubber gasket bell and spigots should not be deflected. If
push-on or mechanical joint type ductile iron fittings are used with PVC pipe, the
joints can be deflected. Some designers use mechanical joint sleeves to provide the
required joint deflection, as the sleeves have a joint on each end that can be
deflected. Two plain pipe ends are required in order to use a sleeve. It may be
necessary to cut off the bell end of certain pipe sticks. Note that the plain end stab
depth into the mechanical joint must be limited in order to maintain the allowable
joint deflection. During construction, the joint deflections must be carefully
controlled to ensure that the deflections are uniformly distributed and no one joint is
over-deflected. Over deflection at joints, or over insertion of the spigot into the bell
end, can result in fracture of the pipe wall.
Allowable Ring Deflection Both ductile iron and PVC pipe are considered flexible
conduits and have ring deflection limits that control the depth of burial and live
loading. AWWA M41 recommends a 3 percent maximum allowable ring deflection
for mortar lined ductile iron pipe, and a 5 percent maximum allowable ring
deflection for ductile iron pipe with flexible lining. For PVC pipe, the AWWA C605
standard recommends a maximum allowable long-term ring deflection of 7.5
percent. Recommended procedures for computing the anticipated ring deflection are
provided in several design manuals, and some manufacturers provide tabulated
values showing both maximum and minimum burial depth based on the degree of
compaction, trench type, and soil type.
Telescoping of Joints within Casings Both PVC and ductile iron pipes are
frequently installed inside of casings at road and railroad crossings. Pushing the pipe
into the casing can result in over-stabbing of push-on joints. This over-stabbing
concern can be minimized by installing casing spacers at each joint. The spacers
should be installed on the spigot end of the pipe at the recommended maximum stab
depth. Some pipes have a line marked on the spigot end to indicate the maximum
stab depth.
Maximum Particle Size in Pipe Zone There are recommended maximum particle
size limits in the pipe zone material for both PVC pipe and ductile iron pipe,

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particularly ductile iron pipe with polyethylene encasement. For PVC pipe, the
AWWA C605 standard recommends that the maximum particle size not exceed
inch for angular rock or 1 inch for rounded rock. For ductile iron pipe with
polyethylene encasement, a maximum particle size of 3/8 inch is commonly
recommended. For ductile iron pipe under 18-inches in diameter with no
polyethylene encasement, a maximum particle size of inch is commonly
recommended, and for pipe larger than 18-inches in diameter with no polyethylene
encasement, a maximum particle size of 1 inch is commonly recommended.
Selection of Materials in Contaminated Areas In areas where the pipe may be
exposed to petroleum products or solvents, careful consideration of materials is
required. Both polyvinyl chloride (PVC) material and the material used to
manufacture certain gasket products (for PVC and DI pipe) may be subject to
permeation and leakage. Appendix A of AWWA M23 includes tables indicating the
resistance of PVC material and common gasket materials to various chemicals.
Use of Restrained Joints in Non-Tension Areas In general, restrained joints are
intended to resist pull-out due to tension caused by internal pressure, and are not
intended to resist movement caused by compressive forces on the joint. This is
particularly important to consider where isolation valves are installed along the
length of a pipeline, and the hydrostatic forces may be applied to either side of the
valve. Where mechanical joint (MJ) sleeves are installed, some owners install a short
section of pipe (sometimes referred to as a pup) inside the sleeve to prevent the
two ends of the pipe in the sleeve from moving closer together due to compressive
forces (see Figure 1).

Figure 1. Short Section of Pipe or Pup in MJ Sleeve


Sizing Thrust Blocks to Restrain Valves Some design guides show thrust blocks
under valves as illustrated in Figure 2. The
depth of the thrust block is typically shown
approximately equal to the pipe diameter
in order to reduce the eccentric loading
caused by the thrust force (at the pipe
centerline) and the soil resistance (at the
center of the block). Thrust blocks of this
type need to be relatively wide in order to
provide the required bearing area.

Figure 2. Typical Thrust Block for Valve

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For example, a 12-inch valve with a 150 psi test pressure, 2,000 psf allowable soil
bearing, and 1.5 factor of safety would require a block about 13 feet wide. The block
would need to be reinforced in order to act as a beam and avoid cracking as the thrust
force is spread into the soil. Note that the straps used to hold the valve to the block
are partially exposed to the soil. An alternative that some designers use is referred to
as a thrust collar or straddle block as shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3. Thrust Collar or Straddle Block Plan View


The thrust collar or straddle block minimizes eccentric forces (since the resistance to
thrust forces is provided closer to the centerline of the pipe) and avoids exposing the
hold down straps to corrosive soils. If straps or reinforcing bars are used to hold the
valve to the block, the exposed portion should be coated with a rust-inhibiting
product.
Thrust Blocks for Vertical Down Bends This type of block relies on the weight
of the block to resist the vertical up forces resulting from the hydrostatic thrust (as
shown in Figure 4).

Figure 4. Thrust Block for Vertical Down-Bend

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These blocks can be quite large and may be an obstacle to other utilities in the area.
For example, a block for an 18-inch diameter, 45 degree bend, with a 150 psi test
pressure and a 1.5 factor of safety would need to resist an upward thrust force of
about 40,000 pounds. The block would need a volume of approximately 10 cubic
yards. The dimensions could be a cube with the length of each side equal to 6.5 feet.
Some designers consider the weight of the soil above the block as contributing to the
force resisting the upward force. If the block is located in an area where the soil
could become saturated, the buoyant unit weight of the block and soil must be used.
This nearly doubles the volume of block required.
Combining Different Means of Thrust Restraint Occasionally designers use a
combination of thrust blocks and restrained joints to resist thrust forces. If both
systems are designed to act independently, this approach works well. For example, if
it is necessary to excavate behind a thrust block to install another utility, the
restrained joints can provide the necessary thrust restraint, even though the thrust
block provides no restraint during the time the excavation is open. However, if the
project is designed such that neither restraint system is adequate to independently
resist the thrust, failure is likely. Typically, restrained joints require a slight amount
of movement in order to engage. Thrust blocks or foundation walls may, or may not,
require slight movement to engage.
Location of Taps on PVC Pipe If PVC pipe is installed on a curved alignment by
bending of the pipe, installation of hot taps can cause pipe failure if the tap is
installed on the tension (outside radius) side. Hot taps should always be made on the
compression (inside radius) side.
Cautions Regarding Wedge-Type Grippers for Restraint at Mechanical Joints
Wedge-type grippers should not be used on the plain end of fittings where the fitting
connects to a mechanical joint. The plain end of fittings is frequently tapered and the
wedges will not grip properly. In addition, some fitting manufacturers use a
hardening process on their fittings that prevent the teeth on the wedge from properly
forming grooves in the pipe material.
Attaching Wood Skids to PVC Pipe Occasionally, wood skids are used when
sliding a pipe into a casing. The skids hold the pipe above the bottom of the casing
and avoid damage to the bells. Any scraping at rough spots inside the casing causes
wear on the skid, rather than on the pipe. If PVC pipe is being inserted into the
casing, the skids should not be creosote-treated as the creosote can weaken the PVC
pipe material.
Allowance for Make-up Water during Hydrostatic Testing The recommended
hydrostatic testing procedure, stated in the AWWA manuals, for ductile iron and
PVC pipelines is essentially the same (see formulas below). For ductile iron pipe, the
equation to compute the recommended maximum allowance for make-up water is
based on the length of pipe being tested. For PVC pipe, the equation to compute the
recommended maximum allowance for make-up water is based on the number of
pipe joints in the section of pipe being tested. Assuming the length of pipe between
joints is 18 feet, the two equations result in the same recommended allowance for
make-up water.

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AWWA M41

AWWA M23

Recommended testing allowance


formula for ductile iron pipe:

Recommended testing allowance


formula for PVC pipe:

=
133,200
7,400

Where:
L = Testing allowance (make-up water) in gallons per hour
S = Length of pipe being tested in feet
D = Nominal diameter of pipe in inches
P = Average test pressure in pounds per square inch
N = Number of joints in the length of pipeline being tested
CONCLUSION
Several tips and tools for design and construction of PVC and ductile iron pipelines
are presented in this paper. These tips and tools should benefit the professional
community by providing useful information to engineers, designers, inspectors, and
constructors of both ductile iron and PVC pipe systems.

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