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Revision of
AWWA C651-14:
The Water Main
Disinfection Standard


A REVIEW OF AWWA n Feb. 1, 2015, AWWA issued the updated ANSI/AWWA C651-
14 standard, Disinfecting Water Mains, a result of the review
that AWWA standards must go through every five years. This
REQUIRED EVERY FIVE newly revised standard helps utilities, engineers, and contrac-
YEARS; AWWA tors better understand the specifications for chlorination
required by the standard and interpret the procedures necessary to properly
complete chlorination projects.
ADD CLARIFICATION AWWA C651 has undergone major changes to take into account new
AND REFLECT NEW technologies and the increases in requirements for testing, flushing, and pro-
tection of the environment; these requirements are reflected in current regula-
tions and changing project specifications set by state and federal authorities.
MANDATES, AND The changes also include an assessment of water main breaks to determine
RESEARCH FINDINGS. the appropriate procedures for the risks involved.

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2015 © American Water Works Association

WHY THESE CHANGES method, individual requirements can Can the line remain pressurized
WERE MADE be highlighted. In addition, a fourth while the leak is repaired? If so,
In conducting the review for this method—the spray method—was no disinfection or sampling is
update of AWWA C651, the commit- added to better accommodate large- required as the sanitary integrity
tee responsible for its development diameter pipelines. of the line is maintained.
wanted to incorporate new findings Clarification of the difference • Must the line be depressurized
of the Water Research Foundation between requirements for new and to repair the break? If so, was
(WRF). WRF has funded research on repaired mains. The most significant the line kept pressurized until
main disinfection and repair prac- changes are with regard to pipe the leak site was excavated? In
tices over the past 20 years to repairs, which have been broken into this case, disinfect all new
improve the science behind those three categories on the basis of components and flush and
practices recommended in AWWA potential for public health risk. measure chlorine residual
standards. With the growing concern Mains requiring repair often need to when the repair is complete.
about aging infrastructure and water be returned to service as quickly as As long as no contamination
main failures in the United States, a possible to minimize disruption to occurred during the repair
WRF study that focused on best customers. Depending on the nature work, only flushing and veri-
practices for main breaks—Effective of the repair to be completed, sani- fying proper chlorine residual
Microbial Control Strategies for Main tary integrity can be protected in levels are necessary.
Breaks and Depressurization—was many cases with a minimum of • Did the break result in wide-
completed (Kirmeyer et al. 2014), added steps. Options are provided spread depressurization? Or
and those findings were incorpo- that take into account different-size was the line depressurized
rated into the C651 update. pipes and the conditions present. before the pipe was trenched/
The US Environmental Protection The majority of water main exposed? Is contamination sus-
Agency’s issue paper, New or “breaks” are typically leaks or pected or likely? If so, more
Repaired Water Mains, provides jus- cracks that can be repaired without must be done in terms of disin-
tification for the need to implement depressurizing the water main. The fection and sampling to ensure
proper pipeline disinfection proce- failure point is unearthed, cleaned, protection of public health.
dures and for careful consideration and disinfected, and then a clamp is Given the wide variety of situa-
of sanitary conditions during pipe- applied or another repair is made. tions and conditions faced by field
line installation and repairs (AWWA Since the primary route of water personnel when dealing with pipe-
& EESI 2002). contamination comes from intrusion line repairs and the importance of
of contaminants, maintaining a pres- protecting our drinking water sup-
THE MAJOR REVISIONS surized pipe while it is under repair ply, this update provides guidance
Clarification separating the methods prevents such intrusion. on how to assess the proper options
of chlorination and addition of a fourth However, when a rupture occurs, for completing those repairs, with
method. In AWWA C651 there had and the pipe is open to environmen- the priority being on protecting
been some confusion regarding the tal contamination and water pres- public health.
original section 4.4, Methods of sure at the break site is lost, several Section added for large-diameter
Chlorination. All methods were precautions must be taken to reduce transmission lines:
lumped together, which caused health risks. The following catego- • The prior C651 standard did not
misunderstandings in how ries outline the differences in AWWA specifically address alternative
to use this section. By C651’s approach. chlorination methods for large-
separating each Main breaks: diameter pipes. This update pro-
• Is the main kept pressurized vides flexibility by allowing
throughout trenching and isola- more appropriate flushing pro-
tion of the line? cedures as well as providing

34 OCTOBER 2015  |  JOURNAL AWWA • 107:10 | REILLEY ET AL.

2015 © American Water Works Association

additional options for disinfec- serious pipe breaks must follow drinking water and wastewater
tion (i.e., a spray method). the disinfection and bacterial systems. Since 2006 Reilley has
• For large-diameter transmission sampling procedures applicable served on the AWWA Disinfection
mains, spray disinfection may to new mains. of Facilities Committee and since
be used per ANSI/AWWA C652, • In addition to bacteriological 2010 has served as its chair. Gary
Section 4.3.2 (Disinfection of sampling, AWWA C651 sug- A. Burlingame is laboratory
Water Storage Facilities, Chlori- gests considering other water director at the Bureau of
nation Method 2). Once a pipe quality tests such as turbidity, Laboratory Services at the
is cleaned, the pipe surfaces are pH, and chlorine residual. A Philadelphia Water Department
sprayed, followed by a 30-min combination of tests can indi- (Pa.). Robert Gordhamer is
wait period before filling the cate reasons for degradations of president and chief executive officer
line and sampling. water quality. of Measurement Technologies Inc.
Scour rates: Flushing and pressure testing: in Redmond, Wash.
• Scour rates for most pipes have • This process specifies the use of
been increased to 3.0 fps as a potable water only for flushing http://dx.doi.org/10.5942/jawwa.2015.107.0145
result of testing done through the and pressure testing.
WRF study, which demonstrated • This process prohibits highly
that a higher rate is needed to bet- chlorinated water use in high- REFERENCES
ter remove sand and debris. Sand rate flushing as most dechlorina- AWWA & EESI (Economic and Engineering
and debris can cause two prob- tion equipment is not designed to Services Inc.), 2002. New or Repaired
lems: (1) create excess chlorine accommodate such flows at such Water Mains. Distribution System Issue
demand, thus consuming the dis- high levels of chlorine. Paper. US Environmental Protection
Agency, Washington.
infectant before it can eliminate Dechlorination:
all microbes and (2) hide microbes • References to the new AWWA Kirmeyer, G.J.; Thomure, T.M.; Rahman, R.;
Marie, J.L.; LeChevallier, M.W.; Yang, J.;
from flushing and disinfection. C655 were added to provide Hughes, D.M.; & Schneider, O., 2014.
The flow rate is based on a mini- direction on proper dechlorina- Effective Microbial Control Strategies for
mum water flow velocity. If flows tion and disposal of heavily Main Breaks and Depressurization.
are not possible, pigging or flush- chlorinated water. Project 4307. Water Research
ing at the maximum expected Foundation, Denver.
flow rate for two to three volumes CONCLUSION
of water may be acceptable. ANSI/AWWA 651, the updated
Sampling: Disinfection of Water Mains stan-
• The requirement for bacterio- dard, incorporates findings from a
logical sampling in new mains WRF project and seeks to clarify AWWA RESOURCES
has been revised from two sets of steps to take depending on the •  Gimmicks and Gadgets—
samples taken 24 h apart to add nature of the work. Given the wide Portable Water Main Disinfection
two options for two sets of sam- range of projects and repairs, these Unit a Winner (PDF). Orient, D.,
ples: (1) option A—samples are updates accommodate the variety of 1998. Opflow, 24:8:11. Product
taken 16 h apart and (2) option conditions encountered and provide No. OPF_0047958.
B—samples are taken 15 min a means to assess the risk and to •  Potassium Permanganate as a
apart after a 16-h rest period. identify the appropriate level of dis- Main Disinfectant (PDF). Hamilton,
The reason for two samples is infection and sampling. J.J., 1974. Journal AWWA,
that 100-mL samples are a frac- 66:12:734. Product No.
tion of the volume of water in ABOUT THE AUTHORS JAW_0000649.
the pipe; thus, such sampling can Since 1996, Betsy •  Public Health Depends on
miss pockets of dirt and mi­­ Reilley has worked Proper Water Main Repair,
crobes. The reason for a holding with the Disinfection (PDF). Baker, E., 2014.
time before or between sampling Massachusetts Opflow, 40:6:14. Product No.
is to test for water quality dete- Water Resources OPF_0080412.
rioration over time—a signal Authority; 100
that the line is contaminated. First Ave., Boston, These resources have been
• Bacteriological sampling for MA 02129 USA; betsy.reilley@ supplied by Journal AWWA staff.
re­­paired mains depends on mwra.com. As the director of For information on these and
the nature of each environmental quality, she is other AWWA resources, visit
break and repair. responsible for sampling, reporting, www.awwa.org.
Note that more and compliance programs for the

REILLEY ET AL. | 107:10  •  JOURNAL AWWA  |  OCTOBER 2015 35

2015 © American Water Works Association