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Technical Service Center — Water Conveyance Group


Engineers design pipelines to transport, or convey, materials from one place to another. The more commonly conveyed materials are fluids and are water, natural gas, and oil products. The Bureau of Reclamation designs, constructs, and maintain pipelines that convey water. Reclamation engineers maintain a database on pipelines they have built.

Pipelines are generally circular shape and their sizes are referred to by diameter. Reclamation has built 4500 miles of water conveyance pipelines. These range in size from 4 inches to 21 feet in diameter. Pipes designed to resist pressure are called pressure pipes.

Reclamation has built pipelines that contain heads up to 825 feet (350 p.s.i.). (Engineers measure water conveyance pipeline's heads in pounds per square inch (p.s.i.) or feet (of water). This is equivalent of saying that a pipeline can hold the pressure caused by a column of water so many feet high. If the pipeline conveys water that is not under pressure and is not flowing full, then it is called a "free flow" pipeline.)

Engineers design pipes in various ways depending on cost, head, and size.