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Solving discoloration issues in potable water with spray-in-place pipe rehabilitation in Youngstown, OH

5 min read

Project Summary


City of Youngstown, OH

A map of the USA with a marker on Youngstown, OH.

Type of Project

Spray-in-Place Pipe Rehabilitation


  • Cost savings of at least 35% over pipe replacement
  • Significant time savings of up to 75% over pipe replacement

The City of Youngstown, Ohio’s Water Department services over 52,000 accounts – a population over 125,000 people – spread over seven communities. The City buys water from the Mahoning Valley Sanitary District and distributes about half a billion gallons a month to those communities.

As the city’s Water Commissioner, Harry Johnson III is responsible for all the department’s policies, procedures, and activities. Under his leadership, the department has adopted a forward-thinking, proactive, and best practices approach to the maintenance of its assets. That includes utilizing an Asset Management Program (AMPTM) to keep its key infrastructure in optimal condition, starting with repair, rehabilitation, and maintenance of its seven water tanks – five of which have now been fully renovated to “as new” condition by USG Water Solutions (USG), which provides asset management services to the department.

The decision to work with USG’s asset management team enabled the city to finance projects such as repair, rehabilitation, and ongoing maintenance of its water tanks over time rather than incur a significant initial capital outlay.

Client issue

Of course, water tanks are just one part of the city’s water infrastructure. As in many other communities throughout the United States, the City of Youngstown’s distribution system is aging. One of the related issues the city faced was the appearance of discoloration in the water in some parts of the system, accompanied by complaints from concerned customers.

“We were considering water line replacement, but when we looked at the costs, we said, ‘that’s going to cost too much.’ So, we explored a number of different ways to eradicate the problems. That’s when we learned about the USG spray-in-place pipe (SIPP) rehabilitation program.

A man working a computer controlled rig.

The project

The Water Department identified 3,000 – 4,000 feet of pipe in low usage or dead-end streets, where the flow is below average. As a result, there is a possibility of increased mineral build-up in these pipes, which can cause things like discolored water and result in customer complaints. This happens in water systems across the country: If water sits for a long enough time in a pipe, naturally occurring minerals, like iron or manganese, can attach to and build up in a cast iron pipe.

The Youngstown Water Department decided to apply USG’s innovative SIPP solution to rehab and repair pipes, and in 2019, it decided to tackle six streets, starting with 2,400 feet of pipe. The department then budgeted to take care of an additional 2,900 feet of pipe in 2020.

Each year, the Water Department determines what section of pipe to rehab, and this becomes the plan for that year. Johnson noted that customers have called to thank him directly and confirm that their water is clear.

SIPP Benefits

An additional and important advantage of SIPP is that it minimizes inconvenience to consumers by relining water pipes rather than digging them up and replacing them.

Excavation on SIPP projects is about 3% of excavation on traditional dig-and-replace projects. The significant cutback of excavation and backfill shortens the traditional construction schedules for this type of work and makes the work safer.

The epoxy lining seals the pipe, leaving no annular space for water to leak. The lining prevents corrosion, improving water quality.

A pipe with mineral build up.
A truck with an epoxy tank.


Johnson summarized his experience with the SIPP program by saying that, “I would tell any utility to strongly consider taking a look at USG to assist you with this process. Their SIPP solution exceeded my expectations in terms of the cost and the amount of time it took, and the fact that it wasn’t invasive. It’s paid big dividends for us. It worked great for the customer, and it worked great for us.”