Flow Job

To the Editor,

Mailbag Regarding "Flow Job?" (Tucson Weekly, October 9) by "reporter" Paula Huff, who, in an attempt to collect information, came to interview me with neither a pen nor paper in hand, and asked to borrow both: Please allow me the space to make several corrections and clarifications to the information presented in that article. (1)

First of all, Gwen Goodman, who the article states is a main replacement project manager, works in our Administration/Customer Service area, and has nothing to do with managing main replacement projects.(2)

Also, Steve Pageau is not my supervisor, although he is another civil engineer associated with main replacement projects. (3)

In general, the article makes it sound like polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe is a relatively new, untested material for distributing water, and we should prepare ourselves for when "...many new PVC water mains may blow apart within a few years". (4)

The fact is PVC water pipe was first developed in Europe, Germany in particular, in the 1920s and its manufacture began in the U.S. on the east coast in the 1950s.(5)

Ignoring the testing done by the rest of the world, the testing done in this country alone by the American Water Works Association (AWWA) has been extensive, and has included hydrostatic pressure tests conducted with water up to 130 F. (During Tucson's summer months, water temperatures in our mains have been measured as high as 85 F., and on rare occasions as much as 90 F.(6)

Certainly this AWWA testing is very applicable to Tucson. (7)

Additionally, all manufacturers supplying pipe for Tucson Water projects are required to test each piece of pipe at a hydrostatic pressure four times its pressure rating. Therefore, pipe classified as Class 150 (DR 18) has been tested at 600 psi at the factory, and Class 200 (DR 14) was tested at 800 psi. All contractors installing water lines are required to test them at 200 psi for a minimum duration of two hours following installation as a condition for acceptance by Tucson Water, regardless of the material and class of pipe installed. The normal operating pressures of our distribution system are between 40 and 80 psi, with occasional surges of up to an additional 35 psi. Because of the hilly nature of the Catalina Foothills area, the pressure at the bottom of some hills may reach as much as 115 psi, and including surge pressure, could reach 150 psi for brief periods. Only Class 200 (DR 14) PVC is used in these areas. (8)

Since our main replacement program began, we've experienced zero failures of PVC water mains following their proper installation. Not bad for such a "Tinkertoy" construction method, huh? (9)

Incidentally, ductile iron pipe is installed using the same "Tinkertoy" push-on joint technique. (10)

Also, polyethylene pipe comes in rolls about 400 feet long, not 20 feet (PVC pipe comes in 20-foot lengths), and the City of Phoenix is still installing asbestos cement (AC) pipe water lines, which is good pipe, but no longer made in the US. (11)

It would be nice if your "reporters" someday become interested in the facts, instead of just sensationalism. Ask them to bring va pen and paper for their next assignment.

--Kevin P. Heberle, P.E.

Civil Engineer, Tucson Water

Paula Huff responds:

(1) I came by on my way to school to schedule an interview with Heberle. He had time right then, so I conducted an impromptu interview. I had a pen and paper in my backpack, but Heberle gave me an outdated production schedule sheet with the tentative main-replacement dates on it. Since it was going to be a short interview, I wrote on the back of the schedule sheet. BFD.

(2) Then why did Steve Pageau give her official title as "Project Manager?" And, why were most of the answers to my questions sent by Gwen?"

(3) I'd called Heberle on the phone a few times for quick answers to questions. He hemmed and hawed around the issues, then told me to call his supervisor, Steve Pageau. I guess when Heberle says, "my supervisor," he really means "my co-worker."

(4) Where, specifically, did I state PVC is a new material?

(5) Germany. Wow, there's a place where the temperature soars. I had a friend who was stationed in Germany when he was in the Army. I still have a letter from him describing the country as "colder than a witch's tit." Thermoplastic isn't going to soften and weaken under those conditions. Has PVC been used in a comparable climate to Tucson? Saudi Arabia, maybe?

(6) But the fact remains: The test was done in 1980. And while we're on the subject, if so much testing has been done in this country alone, why did Tucson Water rely on a 1980 report? A more recent report would, at the very least, carry much more weight. Perhaps the newer reports' findings are unfavorable when it comes to PVC and high soil temperatures.

(7) Says who? When, precisely, were the high-temperature tests run? And why have other Arizona cities put a moratorium on further use of PVC?

(8) So where exactly is the DR 18 PVC being used?

(9) Ooooh. They've lasted a full year already. That's impressive.

(10) Yeah, but it doesn't soften and weaken when heated.

(11) Then why did Heberle tell me polyethylene piping comes in 20-foot rolls? I have it written down on the back of the outdated schedule sheet that I "borrowed" during the impromptu interview. Besides, so what if it comes on 400-foot rolls? It can withstand elevated operating temperatures, unlike PVC.

(12) It seems Heberle's main gripe is the fact that I wrote on the back of a schedule sheet instead of digging out an official piece of notebook paper from my backpack. Oh, well. I forgive him. He probably sent this letter after being chased down the hall by a whip-wielding John Nachbar.

CAP Crap

To the Editor

Remember the first attempt to issue chemically treated CAP water a few years ago? Our newspapers reported that it sometimes had a rusty color. The effect was especially noted in the schools on Monday mornings, after the water had been standing still in pipes and mains over the weekend. The cause of the rustiness was explained as a chemical reaction with the metallic composition of the pipes and mains.

In the meantime, our Catalina Vista Neighborhood received new water mains, of plastic composition. Other areas of Tucson have had such main replacement too. Now I wonder if we will be the first to receive treated CAP water. What will then be the chemical reaction with human tissues and their composition? Does anyone know the answer?

The above two paragrahs were sent on October 10 as Letter to the Editor to our two daily papers, but they were not published and no reason was given. Politics? That CAP water is a political issue was clear when Mo Udall made a public remark that one of his regrets was to have gotten involved with CAP. Years ago I had written him and the other congressmen and the senators of Arizona a polite letter asking if it was true what had been reported in a paper in Tucson, that a delegation had come to them to speak about re-routing the CAP canal from the original recharge plan, east of the Santa Cruz, towards west of the river to a chemical treatment plant. I received no answer at all, which was unusual because I had written to them before on various issues and had always received a reply.

With one exception: At about that time I wrote also a polite letter to then-U.S. Sen. Dennis DeConcini asking him if it was true what was described in one of our papers, namely that his family had bought ranchland west of the Santa Cruz, and had sold it at a great profit to the CAP. No answer came to that one either, even though we were on a first-name basis, writing and meeting occasionally.

And now? We have had a referendum and we voted for recharge, but I don't see much action except the above plastic-tubing project. Again the voters are going to decide on these issues that are so technical and involved that they should never have been asked to vote on. I can guess who is going to win, and who is going to drink chemically treated water soon. It will probably not look rusty again, unless we let it stand still for days in our pipes at home.

--Tom Gehrels


To the Editor,

Tom Danehy's "Arizona Rap?" (Tucson Weekly, October 2) was amusing. His sense of humor is great; he can crack on just about any subject. I got that CD because I like that song, but the rest of the CD was so-so. It's cooler to read a music review that doesn't follow the same old format. Tom Danehy is a treasure.

--Michael Schindler

To the Editor,

Regarding Tom Danehy's "Arizona Rap?" (Tucson Weekly, October 2): I agree with almost everything he says about Nasty Boy Klick, but his paragraph summarizing Arizona music is wack!

He mentions Linda Ronstadt and the Gin Blossoms as examples of Arizona's lack of originality and identity. What he failed to mention is that some of the most original and influential bands ever are from Arizona. Arizona music does have an identity; and no, not all people in Arizona have moved from somewhere else.

For example, the Meat Puppets capture the spirit of Arizona and the Sonoran Desert like no one else has. They've had a huge influence on Dinosaur Jr., VIDA and many others. The highways, mountains and deserts of Arizona breathe through their recordings in an incredible way.

Another big-time favorite: Jody Foster's Army, demi-gods of hardcore skate rock. They were, and still are, a major influence to modern bands like D.F.L., Sublime and the Beasty Boys.

Arizona bands have a mix of ruggedness and sophistication not found elsewhere.

Machines of Loving Grace, as they sing, "take me home...to where the grass is brown," have made me homesick many times as I traveled to other places. They made raw industrial rock before many more famous and neurotic stars did.

What about Alice Cooper, who must be talked about before Linda Ronstadt? What about Phunk Junkees, who have their roots in Arizona hip-hop as Bum Rap? What about G-Wiz? And what about the several hip-hop crews on Tucson's southside who can put NBK to shame?

Arizona music has strong roots in Latin, native, blues, country and rock and roll. From the words of our Dead California Homeboy, Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart,/You've just got to poke around/Don't tell me this town ain't got no heart/Well I can hear it beat out loud.

My advice to Tom: Get out more, bro.

--Wayne Accacca


In the Tortolita cover story last week, we mistakingly reversed picture captions on town council members Elaine Cooper and Carlotta "Scottie" Bidegain. We also omitted Council member Barbara Smith, who was on vacation. Our apologies.

We Want Letters!

Thrilled by our brilliant insights? Sick of our mean-spirited attacks? Need to make something perfectly clear? Write: tucsonweekly@tucsonweekly.com

 Page Back  Last Issue  Current Week  Next Week  Page Forward

Home | Currents | City Week | Music | Review | Books | Cinema | Back Page | Archives

Weekly Wire    © 1995-97 Tucson Weekly . Info Booth