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Henry P. Turalde
Camarines Sur Polytechnic Colleges

Abstract: Watertight drainage system presents superior quality over the traditional non-watertight scheme.
Environmental issues such as infiltration and exfiltration are addressed. It also answers the technical issues. It seals and
shields the line from the possible permeation of water, preventing the soil fines to seep into the pipeline and eliminating
settlement at the bottom of the drainage pipe. It prevents the loss of soil fines from the pipe-surrounding aggregate that
may void the ground that may eventually become loose. However, the watertight method would bring significant
implications to the country’s construction industry. It would require new materials and alternative construction
methods. It must introduce essential amendments to the existing specifications and would require performance of
appropriate quality tests. It may present economic impact owing to the costs of new materials and modified
construction methods.
Keywords: drainage system, wastewater, sewage, watertight, infiltration, pressure test, leakage



Our generation, this present generation in the history of
mankind is confronting undoubtedly the most significant,
if not the most crucial and complex global environmental
challenges, whether we accept it or not. Whatever this
generation does or fails to do will certainly define the
course of civilization in terms of sustainable
One of these enormous challenges we face is the search
for the appropriate wastewater disposal system design
and construction, and parallel with this, the accurate
response to the issues brought about by inappropriate
wastewater disposal practices. The concerns of sewage
disposal has taken increasing importance as a result of
the issues expressed about the enormous problem of
pollution of the human environment, the contamination
of the air, rivers, lakes, oceans and groundwater by
Methods of wastewater disposal date past from ancient
times. Various processes were involved in the collection,
treatment and sanitary disposal of wastewater – domestic
and storm-water sewage – from urban and industrial
areas. New processes were developed to treat sewage,
analyze wastewater, and evaluate the effects of pollution
on the environment. In spite of these efforts, however,
increasing population, industrial and economic growth
caused the pollution and health difficulties to escalate.

The civil engineering profession should show concern to
this ever-growing sewerage problem. It is about time that
we, the PICE, as a professional institution, ought to
respond to this crisis by getting involved in the design,
planning and construction of an effective sewerage



The primary purpose of the processes involved in the
wastewater disposal is, first, to contain the sewage and to
prevent it from contaminating other valuable resources
necessary for human consumption. Second objective, is
to treat it appropriately as needed, and third, to dispose it
off safely.
Development in other countries long recognized that
domestic sewage must be segregated from storm water
sewage, consequently resulting to the separate lines
distinctly designed and built. Domestic sewage is
collected and conveyed to the treatment plant before
being disposed off while storm-water sewage may be
directly discharged to the stream or river.
Watertight pipe and structures may have historically been
considered with sanitary systems in some countries
including the Philippines. However, growing concerns
related to the effects of infiltration and exfiltration have
brought wastewater system in general – both sanitary and
storm-water sewer – to careful scrutiny.


With non-watertight sewer. costly damages and painstaking repairs of these defects could be prevented. pollutants can leach out anywhere along the length of the storm drainage system. roadway collapse and unstable surfacing are examples of this type of problem. extra-burdensome maintenance works could be avoided. Third. the groundwater or the surrounding water drains through these pipes. and prevents infiltration and exfiltration.1 MATERIAL REQUIREMENTS The main cause of the problems that caused infiltration is the mortared joints and non-gasketed connections. 4 TECHNICAL CONCERN Noteworthy for civil engineers. the inflow of water carries soil fines from the surrounding backfill material. it would require the obligatory performance of appropriate quality tests not performed in the nonwatertight system. during infiltration. this hardened soil fines would accumulate and eventually block the pipe. In a watertight drainage system. Second. the “slow but sure” loss of soil fines would create void spaces around the pipe. Once soil fines are settled. untimely cleaning and maintenance works may render the sewer ineffective. These 2 . they will drain the entire wetland and adversely affect the very sensitive ecology of the area. In a watertight drainage system. continuous leak of wastewater may contaminate the surrounding soil or the area’s groundwater and may lead to eventual irrevocable damage. it may bring about alternative methods of construction. Lastly. When the sewer is under the road. In exfiltration. this presents a safety hazard to the traveling public to the minimum. Unfortunately. this condition shall not be made possible without significant ramification to the existing norms and standards in the Philippine’s construction industry. meaning new materials may be required. Over time. As pipe joints permit infiltration. The soil fines that seep through the joints or other leaks would settle at the bottom of the drainage line. there is a cost”. essential amendments to the existing specifications would be required. subsequently rendering the pipesurrounding material loose and unstable. some technical or structural issues are addressed through a watertight drainage scheme. over time. it may have also some economic impact owing to the costs of new materials and modified construction methods. As the wastewater leaks through the joints. there goes the saying. treatment and disposal. sinkholes. In order to contain wastewater and prevent pollution. The outpour of heavy rain can flush these contaminants into the river consequently damaging the quality of the water. 3 ENVIRONMENTAL PROBLEMS If the drainage system is not watertight. When storm drainage system is placed in the area with contaminated soils or industrial complexes.Drainage works should be specifically designed to perform its primary function of collection. Over With the shift from the traditional non-watertight sewer to a watertight system. Potholes. As a consequence. the best way to effectively take care of it is by keeping the drainage system watertight in order to keep wastewater isolated and be appropriately treated as necessary before discharging it to the open. this failure may result to the eventual collapse of the roadway. it would harden. this departure shall have considerable transformation on project planning and construction. 5. infiltration may potentially occur when sewer lines are placed below water table or when rainfall percolates down to the depth of the pipe. First. More frequent cleaning of the pipeline would be required to keep the sewer effectively functional. Parallel to these. When located adjacent or through a wetland. polluted waters can leach into the system through these openings. 5 IMPLICATIONS TO PHILIPPINE SETTING “If there is a cause. it would entail improved quality requirements to material’s characteristics or properties. Surface drainage pollutants entering the system from catch basins far upstream seep out through the leaking joints downstream. time. the opposite happens but works in similar fashion. Watertight drainage system seals and shields the sewer. Ex-filtration may potentially happen when the pipe is placed above the water table. When joints in the pipelines are not watertight and no control over the amount of infiltration into the pipeline. As this happens.

high-density polyethylene (HDPE) pipe. range from 100 mm (4”) to over 900 mm (36”) in diameter x 20’ (6 m) long.types of joints do not provide watertight seal. or other pipe material approved for the specific application.2 DRAINAGE PIPES Watertight drainage system uses pipes that are made of reinforced concrete pipe (RCP) with rubber gasketed joints. HDPE pipe material is made of single compound manufacturer and conforms to cell classification set by ASTM D-3350 standards or better. made of material coming from a single compound with a cell classification of 12454-B.2 Polyvinyl Chloride Pipe (PVC) Plastic pipes are widely used for its lightweight. RCP dimension ranges from 6” (150 mm) up to over 120” (3000 mm) in diameter x 16’ (4.2. Joints shall be watertight. The concrete base shall be cast integrally cast with floor. conforming to the performance standards of ASTM D-3212. 5. Joints are provided with preformed rubber gasket to meet the requirements of ASTM C-443 or ASTM C-361 standards or better for watertight sewer system. non-corrosive properties and ease of making connections. In the Philippines. produced conforming to ASTM C-14. Joints are provided with preformed rubber gaskets conforming to ASTM F-477 standards or better. All manholes shall be reinforced concrete constructed of Portland Cement Concrete. HDPE joints are equipped with elastomeric o-rings gasket conforming to ASTM F-477. 12454-C or 12364- High Density Polyethylene Pipe (HDPE) High-density polyethylene is one of the most chemically inert of all plastics and therefore is extremely chemical and corrosion resistant. 5. Pipe openings in precast sections shall be formed during casting operation. Larger diameter manholes Type B or bigger may be used to accommodate larger pipe sizes. These may include manholes. 5. The mortared joint may appear initially watertight but they can not accommodate pipe-to-pipe or pipe-to-structure settlement resulting in cracking of this filler material and subsequent leaking. A rubber gasket as specified in ASTM C-443 is used to seal pipe to manhole. chemical resistance.3 5.1 Reinforced Concrete Pipe (RCP) Reinforced concrete pipe (RCP) is the most widely used and accepted permanent sewer material because of its durability. Materials for a watertight drainage system require joints that guarantee seal from construction phase and beyond. 5.1 Pre-cast Manholes Precast concrete manhole pipe shall conform to ASTM C-478.3. but its vulnerability to leakage through the mortared joints poses tough watertight concerns. conforming to the performance standards of ASTM D3212. In North America. This plastic material includes polyvinyl chloride (PVC). This diameter of pipe is available from 6” (150 mm) up to 48” (1200 mm) x 20’ (6 m) long. In the US. catch basins and inlets and others. PVC pipes come normally with bell and spigot ends. The structural integrity of a system can only be assured by preventing leaks which requires a silt tight and watertight system. Any mortar works necessary to seal 3 . Typical Type A sewer manhole (shown in figure 1) with a minimum of 48" (1200 mm) diameter may be used for pipes up to 36” (900 mm) diameter. Precast concrete manhole materials shall be in accordance with the drawing of Standard Sewer Manhole & Details (figure 1). This material possesses excellent quality in strength and durability.2. ungasketed RCPC which is prefabricated in one-meter length has long been the most widely used material for drainage projects. A joint lubricant is used on the gasket and bell during assembly. fitted and fixed with suitable sealing compound. polyvinyl chloride pipe (PVC). No manhole or chamber shall be built using concrete hollow blocks. Joints shall be watertight. 5.3 MANHOLE AND APPURTENANCES Manholes and certain appurtenances are necessary for the proper functioning of the drainage system.80 m) long.2. with bell and spigot or tongue and groove ends. ASTM C-76 or ASTM C-655 standards or better. Solvent cement shall be applied to pipe and fitting per ASTM D2855. C or better as defined in ASTM D-1784 (Rigid PVC Compounds and CPVC Compounds).

the joints shall be done with extra care using approved material and workmanship to ensure watertight quality pipe must not be held at an angle when entry is started to avoid the gasket being pinched between the shoulder of the spigot and bell at the bottom of the pipe. Figure 1. and cast integrally in manhole wall to assure watertight quality.4. Low leakage requirements can be met with well made concrete gravity sewer pipe or other approved pipes with rubber gasket joints.4 INSTALLATION CONSIDERATIONS Drainage system installation should be done during dry weather periods except in emergency situations. It should be recognized by the engineer. Cast-In-Place Manholes Cast-in-place manholes shall also be used for special shape or as necessary to conform to site requirements. Inspect to make sure that pipes have not been crushed by heavy equipment before completing the installation. 5. The TESTS FOR WATERTIGHTNESS Leakage should be held to a minimum in sewers because of its effects mentioned earlier.2 Other Sewer Appurtenances Gulley pots. With the spigot carefully aligned at the entrance to the bell and with the pipe to be installed held in line with the previously laid pipe. 5. This test shall be conducted by blocking off all manhole or structure openings. Pipe openings in precast sections shall be formed during casting operation. except those 4 . a rubber gasket as specified in ASTM C-443 is used to seal pipe to manhole. These project acceptance tests evaluate the quality of the contractor’s work.2 Other implications of a watertight drainage will be the need of conducting leakage tests.3. the pipe being installed should be held by the lifting device straight to line and grade with the pipe in the ground. catch basins or inlet chambers shall be precast or cast-in-place reinforced concrete conforming to standard Portland Cement Concrete. and cast integrally in manhole wall to assure watertight quality. These tests are conducted to assure that leakage is within acceptable limits. that field performance represents the sum of the manufactured joint characteristics and the contractor’s installation practices. Rubber gasket may be required as specified in ASTM C443 to seal pipe to manhole.5 5. These tests shall be completed and approved prior to placing permanent pavement or resurfacing. maximum limits of allowable leakage in terms of water infiltration or exfiltration should be included in project specifications. Likewise. the joint should be pulled home slowly. Check the slope of pipe runs. Excavations can quickly be flooded with water making proper joint sealing works difficult and dangerous. To check on whether reasonable workmanship was realized during the construction phase. Make sure that the connections are solid and sealed. 5.1 Exfiltration Test Each section of the drainage will be tested between successive manholes by closing the lower end of the sewer reach. however. Make a common practice to water test your drainage before covering the pipes with backfill materials. They should be stated in terms of both maximum allowable rate per test section and maximum allowable average rate for the total project. Do the as-built measurements showing the manhole to manhole line diagram with pipe diameter and inverts at each manhole. In making the joint on rubber gasket sewer pipe. Typical Precast Sewer Manhole Type A 5.3.

Prior to 5 . manholes shall be considered to be concrete pipe of the same diameter as the manhole. whichever is higher. Allowable Infiltration 200 gal/day/inch dia.4 Testing of Manholes Manholes shall be hydrostatically tested for leakage after installation. but prior to being backfilled.4. If the infiltration is found to exceed the stipulated value. Once filled with water. 5. Leakage shall not exceed 0. the contractor shall at his own expense determine the source of the leakage and repair or replace all defective materials and/or workmanship. During this test. the pipe may be subjected to air pressure test.2 Air Pressure Test t = 11. and maintain a constant level in the manholes or structures. Check exposed pipes and plugs for abnormal leakages by coating with soap solution. the infiltration test for leakage shall be used. Exfiltration rate is determined by measuring the amount of water required to maintain constant level in the upper manhole. and shall continue to test the sewer until it meets the requirements. Test duration is to be no less than two hours. 5. At least 2 minutes shall be allowed for the air pressure to stabilize. The maximum allowable infiltration rate for sewers according to some specifications shall conform to following limits for the type of projects specified according to ASTM C-969: Type of pipe Concrete PVC Max.6 liters/day/mm dia/km length) For purposes of exfiltration leakages. and the minimum depth at the upper end shall be at least 5 feet above the crown of the pipe or 5 feet above the level of the ground water. The time elapsed for 1 psig drop in air pressure shall not be less than: t = 0. the average water level in the manholes shall be at least at the elevation of the ground surface.4. This test shall conform to the recommended practice and calculations of ASTM C-828.connecting with the reach being tested. Allowable Infiltration 200 gal/day/inch dia. which will be conducted after compaction of the backfill. It is extremely important that the plugs be installed and braced to prevent blowouts.5 to 2. the system shall be allowed to stabilize for a period of one to two hours before starting the test.5 liters/day/mm dia/km length) 50 gal/day/inch dia./mile length (18.5 liters/day/mm dia/km length) 50 gal/day/inch dia. If the leakage as shown by the test exceeds the allowable value. the contractor shall make appropriate repairs as approved and shall continue to test the sewer until it meets the requirements. The maximum depth at the lower end shall not exceed 25 feet. Air pocket entrapment shall be avoided when filling the line with water.3 Prior to acceptance of any segment of newly constructed sewers. The test shall then be run with the drop in pressure from 3. Safety precautions shall be observed at all times. filling the line./mile length (4.5 psig.472d Infiltration Test If the project encountered excessive ground water during construction of the sewer. the contractor shall locate the leaks. make appropriate repairs as approved.4.99d (in SI) where: t = time in minutes d = pipe diameter in mm If the installation fails to meet the requirements. The maximum exfiltration rate for any section of sewer shall conform to the limit for the type of projects specified according to ASTM C-969: Type of pipe Concrete PVC Max. No one shall be allowed into the manholes during testing./mile length (18. After manhole to manhole reach of pipe has been backfilled.6 liters/day/mm dia/km length) (in English) where: t = time in minutes d = pipe diameter in inches or 5. the line should be flushed and cleaned with the interior walls moist. Plugs shall be placed in the line at each manhole and low pressure shall be introduced into this sealed line until internal pressure reaches 4 psig (pounds per inch gage) greater than the average back pressure of any groundwater that may be surrounding the pipe./mile length (4.003 cfm per square foot of internal pipe wall.

same amount of materials are needed. the following perceived factors may take part in price consideration: Watertight Drainage Vs. 2. 5. the opposite happens but works in similar fashion.hydrostatic testing. As the wastewater leaks through the joints.5. Gasketed joint at every 4 . C) Installation: 1. 5.2 Project Cost Given the foregoing discussion. curing and storage. If the water level is reduced by more than 1/4-inch. Non-Watertight: A) Pipes 1. though fixing the end joints may be done with ease. Using PVC pipes instead of RCPC would be more costly. and the manhole shall be repaired and retested. sweating. the added job offers extra quality – controlling if not eliminating exfiltration and infiltration. Surface drainage pollutants 6 . Likewise. it is clearly evident that the cost of the project will differ from the old (non-watertight) to new (watertight) scheme.5 PROJECT IMPLICATIONS There is no doubt that the watertight drainage system poses inevitable changes in materials requirements and construction methods respectively. When placed in the area with contaminated soils. 5. handling and storage of these aforementioned materials may require unprecedented concerns. Moisture. the leakage shall be considered excessive. manholes shall be visually inspected for leaks. The water level shall again be checked after a period of 4 hours. or beads of water on the exterior of the manhole shall not be considered leakage. RCP (reinforced concrete pipe) require better quality than the conventional RCPC (reinforced concrete pipe culvert) because watertight materials would require more quality control and careful performance during fabrication – casting. the manhole shall be refilled and the water level shall be checked.5. Longer RCP (about 5m) will be more difficult to transport. mounting and installation of these pipes will need bigger equipments and more labor personnel. The exterior of the manhole shall be inspected during this period for visible evidence of leakage. strengthening the sewer by way of concrete-surrounding the PVC pipes would incur bear additional cost. and summing up every point that makes the difference in the construction of watertight drainage as compared to the conventional nonwatertight system. 2. Since PVC pipes can not be subjected to heavy loads particularly below the road under traffic. pollutants can leach out anywhere along the length of the storm drainage system. polluted waters can leach into the system and flush these pollutants into the river. design and construction stages than nonwatertight drainage scheme. Transporting.1 Project Construction Fabrication or supply of watertight drainage materials may pose logistical challenges to constructor during project construction phase. Pipes entering the manhole shall be sealed at a point outside the manhole walls so as to include testing of the pipe/manhole joints. eventual change in the project cost. However. RCP needs a joint every 5 m. but any water running across the surface will be considered leakage and the manhole shall be repaired. handle and install than the meterlong RCPC. 5. The manhole shall be filled with water to a level 2 inches below the top of the frame. it will drain the wetland and adversely affect the ecology of the region. When doing the detailed cost analyses. Leaks or cracks shall be repaired prior to hydrostatic testing. B) Joints: 1. easier than RCPC which requires a joint every meter. handling. After a period of at least one hour and when the water level has stabilized.5m for RCP would be cheaper than mortared joints at every meter for RCPC. Environmental issues related to infiltration and exfiltration are vastly unnoticed through the ages. When non-watertight sewer is located under the water-table of a wetland. Since RCP materials are longer and heavier than the usual RCPC materials. Using concrete pipes. Safety lines shall be secured to all plugs. However. In exfiltration. it will bring about impact on project construction and.6 CONCLUSION Watertight drainage system may require more meticulous planning. Price of watertight RCP will be higher than the conventional RCPC.

eliminating the possibility that soil fines would accumulate. This failure may result to the eventual collapse of the surfacing or roadway. are the technical or structural issues that will be answered by this scheme. As the issues for the need of a watertight drainage system are positively justified. Concrete Pipe User Manual Kurdziel. A PICE specialist in Construction Management & Engineering and Transportation Engineering. Over time. master plumber and quality control engineer. (E-mail: engineer_pluss@yahoo. PS ³ 46 psi SDR 26. PS ³ 320 kPa REFERENCES: City and County of Denver. Likewise. and eventually blocking the pipe. PS ³ 195 kPa SDR 35. Closed Profile and Dual wall PS ³ 46 psi 4-36 inch Dual Wall PS ³ 46 psi 18-60 inch Closed Profile PS ³ 46 psi 3-27 inch Solid Wall SDR 41. This safety hazard would mean enormous medical expenditures.4 Standards for PVC Sewer Pipes: Available ODs Structural Requirements 4-15 inch Solid Wall SDR 41. M. Watertight drainage system seals and shields the sewer. Storm Drain. if pipe is under the road. Turalde is a faculty of College of Engineering at the Camarines Sur Polytechnic 7 . APPENDIX Appendix 1 Standards for Reinforced Concrete Pipes: Reinforced Concrete Culvert. costly damages and painstaking repairs of these defects could be prevented. PS ³ 625 kPa 4-48 inch Open Profile and Closed Profile Class IV. PS ³ 320 kPa SDR 28. subsequently rendering the pipesurrounding material loose.2 CSA – B182. J. Watertight sewer prevents the inflow of water that carries soil fines from the surrounding backfill material. PS ³ 115 psi SDR 23. ASCE (2002) Standard Specifications for Materials and Installation of Storm Drainage Pipelines in the City of Santa Maria. Most noteworthy for civil engineers. the loss of soil fines would create void spaces around the pipe. unstable and not fit to carry load. PS ³ 153 psi 18-36 inch Solid Wall PS ³ 46 psi 4-18 inch Solid Wall PS ³ 46 psi 4-48 inch Open Profile. Storm C 822 Definitions of Concrete Pipe and Related C 969 Infiltration and Exfiltration Acceptance Testing C 1103 Joint Acceptance Testing of Installed Precast About the author: C 76 Appendix 2 Acceptance Testing for RCP ASTM C-969 Water exfiltration ASTM C-969 Water infiltration ASTM C-1103 Joint testing Appendix 3 Standard ASTM D3034 ASTM F679 ASTM F789 ASTM F794 ASTM F949 ASTM F1803 CSA – B182. he is also a certified real estate professional. He advocates ethics. California Henry P. safety and sustainability in construction. 2000 Illinois Concrete Association. settle and harden at the bottom of the line. quality. and prevents infiltration and exfiltration. The Evolution of Watertight Storm Drainage System. PS ³ 28 psi SDR 35. Extra-burdensome maintenance works are avoided. and Sewer Pipe C 361 Reinforced Concrete Low-Head Pressure Pipe C 443 Joints for Circular Concrete Sewer and Culvert C 655 Reinforced Concrete D-Load Culvert.entering the system from catch basins far upstream seep out through the leaking joints downstream.. wastewater will contaminate the surrounding soil and groundwater. PS ³ 70 kPa Class V. its implications in the Philippine setting can not just be simply put aside. Storm Drainage and Sanitary Sewer Construction Details and Technical Specifications.5. surveyor. In a watertight drainage system.