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Does Soil Quality Affect Underground Drainage System?

Failures of buried pipeline systems (water, sewage, oil and gas) due to corrosion are an inevitable concern for owners and asset managers in any country, as they reduce the service life of pipelines. Sudden bursts of pipes and the consequent significant losses have been reported on news channels and in newspapers in well-developed countries. 

These pipes are buried underground, which makes their inspection and maintenance difficult in any specific location, in addition to field conditions and environmental changes. The high frequency of pipe failures indicates the lack of understanding and inaccuracy of current theories used for the prediction of failure of buried pipes.

In this article, we will talk about the common problems posed by soil towards the pipes that are buried underground during the infrastructure construction. This article helps people to understand how structured soils are important to drainage systems in different locations.

Waterlogging is a problem in agriculture; the land is reasonably irrigated even in farms with cereal plants. To ensure the performance of drainage systems, we need good soil structure and quality. However, other factors influence the performance of agricultural drainage systems. In urban areas with public infrastructure, soils are well-compacted to reduce the impact of heavy-duty vehicles on subsurface drainage pipes.

Does Soil Quality Affect Underground Drainage System?

Factors That Affect Drainage Systems

  • Water Logging

Every soil has its concentration of moisture level. When they contain excess volumes of soil water, continuous irrigation and flooding are inevitable. These conditions might affect the integrity of soil structures. Usually, solid particles and pore space make up the soil bulk volume.

Capillary forces ensure that soil water acts on underground drainage pipes. This force might have environmental consequences on drainage systems in urban areas after a period. Also, loose soil structure can promote the chances of erosion and exposure of drain pipes under agricultural lands. With the hydrology of drainage, we can understand how excess water passes through drainable pore spaces.

  • Soil Levels

The topography of soils varies with geographical locations. Both depression and elevation levels affect the movement of soil water around subsurface drainage systems. Areas with higher elevation levels are sources of flooding to low-lying areas with drainage systems. However, fields with ditches are sources of floods to the underground strata. During the maintenance of drains in these areas, or should there be a need to repair the drains, it might be difficult to access the system in rainy conditions.

  • Soil properties

Background knowledge of soil and its properties and how they can influence the corrosion of buried pipes are primary steps required before carrying out research related to corrosion in the soil. It is imperative to review the physical and chemical properties of soils and their contribution to pipe corrosion. Moreover, it is important to understand how pipes were manufactured historically, as the process of manufacturing may affect the corrosion behaviour of various ferrous pipes.

  • Low-Lying Areas with Salt Deposits Can Affect Drainage Pipes

In low-lying areas with canals and ditches, gravity can trigger water tables to cause waterlogged conditions. Usually, drainage system designs in such areas should include materials that are resistant to soil salts. Otherwise, the accumulation of salts on these pipes can weaken their integrity.

  • The Particle Size Distribution Factor

Many farmers in Australia use subsurface drainage infrastructure systems to manage the flow of water in and out of their fields. They also ask experts to inspect these fields for erosion and riverbank failures. However, the quality of the soils affects the development of drainage system management plans. The particle size distribution factor of soils determines the development and performance of drainage systems.

Do Subsurface Drainage System Affect Soils?

Fields must have well-drained soils to ensure a healthy plant yield. Also, there shouldn’t be obstructions to the flow of underground water into large aquatic bodies. Sub-surface drainage systems promote good tillage and planting of crops. Usually, engineers design tile drainage (subsurface) systems to discharge water and allow the roots of plants to enjoy oxygen. Healthy root systems and well-drained soils are vital to food security. However, one thing to note is that roots of certain plants can be invasive to the pipes hidden below the ground. This is because the roots are always attracted to water within the pipes and when they grow too vigorously these tree roots will seep in causing blockage in the drains.

Rainfall Can Cause Soil-Water Retention

Normally, groundwater increases with the amount of rainfall in a geographical location. Also, rainfall influences the volume of shallow groundwater. The soil needs to have functional drain systems if it contains loose particles.

Usually, surface runoff from intense rainfall can infiltrate the soil. It depends on rainfall’s depth and timing. This intensity of rainfall might degrade the soil’s structure and expose underground pipes to the effects of weather.

How Subsurface Drainage Systems Affect Soils

Generally, special drainage systems allow drainable water to flow from subsoil profiles. They act like plastic vases for flowers with holes to drain water. It’s the same concept for tile drains that allow gravitation force from water tables to get to plants’ roots. With moisture, it will be hard for the roots of plants to support the growth of crops. Also, impediments to the flow of drainable water affect crop yield improvement.

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