Tuesday, May 31, 2016

7 Mysterious and Amazing Water Supply Systems of the Ancient Times

A network of pipes in the Philippines is one of the ways to convey potable water to urban and rural communities. Today, it is quite easy to build complex water supply systems using advanced engineering and construction techniques. This is not the case in the olden times where water is considered almost as precious as gold. Well, we still treat water as an essential resource in order to live today, but back then they had a hard time bringing it to their villages considering they lack modern tools to do it.

How did early humans transport water to their settlements using their primitive tools and methods? Interestingly, ancient civilizations were able to build water supply systems which are considered as some of the greatest feats of engineering and architectural marvel. This was during a time when HDPE or PVC pipes like the ones found in the Philippines or any plastic pipes are not invented yet. Here are some examples:

The Nazca Holes

Image Source: BBC
We haven’t yet solved the mystery behind the Nazca Lines of Peru that consists of over a thousand figures of biomorphs and geoglyphs deliberately “drawn” in the Nazca desert by ancient Peruvian Nazca people (100BC to 800AD). Another puzzle emerged from this place which is not composed of lines but gaping spiral holes as pictured below. These are called puquios, “a sophisticated hydraulic system constructed to retrieve water from underground aquifers,” Rosa Lasaponara of the Institute of Methodologies for Environmental Analysis in Italy explains in BBC. Despite being the most arid places on Earth, the puquios were used for agriculture, irrigation and domestic needs that can last a whole year.

Angkor Wat’s Hydraulic System

The Angkor Wat (“temple city”) in Cambodia was commissioned by King Suryavaram II in 12th century to honor their Hindu god Vishnu. Deep within the temples of Angkor is a sophisticated water supply system created by Khmer engineers. As stated by BBC, around 9th century, they were “storing and distributing vast quantities of precious seasonal monsoon water using a complex network of huge canals and reservoirs.” However, due to worsening climate and mismanagement, the Khmer civilization collapsed along with its hydraulic system.

The Acequias of New Mexico

The past is in the past. But what if this past is the only solution to save the present? The snow in Rocky Mountains in New Mexico is melting fast. The melting snow is not going down the rivers but evaporating up in the air. The rivers are the source of irrigation in the area but without the snow in the mountain, water scarcity is inevitable. This is why the locals revived the ancient irrigation systems called acequias, a network of hand-dug conduits. This is a smart move because Sam Fernald of New Mexico State University tells Frontera Desk that “it’s better to store water underground in northern areas because it’s cooler and, you don’t have evaporation.”

The Aqueducts of Ancient Rome

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Of course, we wouldn’t forget one of the popular water systems of the ancient world, the Roman aqueducts. It is derived from two Latin words, aqua (“water”) and ducere (“to lead”). Ancient Romans were sticklers for cleanliness so it is understandable for them to build a “water bridge” to satisfy their needs. According to Crystalinks, the aqueducts provided a constant supply of water used in public baths, latrines, fountains and private households. It served a million of residents at the time.

The Kahrizes of Nakhchivan

Thanks to the ingenuity of their ancestors the people of Nakhchivan Autonomous Region (NAR) in Azerbaijan are now benefitting from old water supply systems. Thru the collaboration of NAR and Switzerland, they launched a project called “Community-Owned Sustainable Water Use and Agricultural Initiatives (COSWA)” to make this possible, International Organization of Migration of Switzerland reports. Since 2011, the region receives three times as more water from the underground water supply systems.

Nabataeans’ Water Channeling Technology 

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We don’t know much about the Nabataeans (586 BC) aside from the fact that they were ancient Semitic people and built an empire in the canyon of Petra in Jordan. The question is: how did they survive in such dry and arid climate? Based on an article in Ancient Origins, they made a “water channeling technology… including the construction of aqueducts, terraces, darns, cisterns, and reservoirs, as well as methods of harvesting rainwater, flood water, groundwater, and natural springs.” In short, all possible sources of water are harvested and utilized. They even have underground cisterns with waterproof cement to prevent the water from seeping into the earth, the article states.

Ancient India’s Water Management System

Around 2500-1700 BCE, the Indus Valley Civilization emerged at Harappa and Mohenjo-Daro, near the Indus River in India. During that time, the people of ancient India developed a water management system that was ahead of its time. In an article in 6bridges, it says that the people built drainage systems, wells, water tanks, canals, sewage systems, and bunds. Ancient History Encyclopedia tells that their houses had wells and bathrooms. The people used brass vessels to purify water, which microbiologists believed can help combat many water-borne diseases.

Towns in Harappa have distinct features. In Lothal, they had a water purification system with aeration chambers, lime and charcoal. In Dholavira, they had a water conservation system consisting of channels and reservoirs made of stone. The town of Rajasthan built a rooftop water harvesting system.

These are especially astonishing accomplishments more so because their time is the reflection of what we have today and they didn’t need a pipes to make irrigation history.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Save the Environment Using PVC Pipes

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How can PVC pipes solve the hunger in the Philippines and save the environment? It seems a farfetched and impossible idea, doesn’t it? Given that there are harmful effects of PVC products or plastics in general.

PVC or Polyvinyl Chloride belongs to thermoplastic resins and is a type of polymer made from VCM (vinyl chloride monomers) through polymerization (Vinyl Environmental Council (VEC)). PVC could last up to 35 years without any signs of deterioration and its durability is the same as new pipes (Japan PVC Pipe & Fittings Association). VEC adds that it is resistant to acid, alkali, almost all inorganic chemicals and organic solvents.

The durability and chemical resistance of PVC pipes can be used in environmentally-friendly projects. Here are a few examples:

Coral Tree Nursery

The Philippines is a coastal country surrounded by bodies of water and belongs to the famous Coral Triangle.  Although coral reefs cover only 0.2% of our oceans, it is the home of 25 million marine fish species (Defenders of Wildlife). Annually, it could generate US$ 2.4 billion in the Southeast Asia (World Resources Institute (WRI). Did you know that in our country alone the total economic value of our reefs is estimated US$ 1.6 billion annually (WRI)?  Only if this is true.

In the paper entitled “The Economics of Worldwide Coral Reef Degradation” published by Cesar Environmental Economics Consulting (CEEC), the damage to world’s reefs is estimated 27% and if this continues for the next 30 years 60% of it will be destroyed.

How can we prevent this from happening? Plant a coral nursery out of a “tree”! This is the solution Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) developed which they launched last 2010 and named it the Coral Tree Nursery®. How does it work? “It is a simple framework of PVC pipe that resembles the shape of a tree. The nursery tree is tethered to the ocean floor and buoyed with a subsurface float. Coral fragments were hung from the branches of the tree using monofilament line,” explains CRF.

After six to nine months, they removed it from the nursery, tagged it, and attached it directly to a local reef using an underwater adhesive. Through these efforts, more fishes can be produced for human consumption.


It is a fusion of two practices. Aqua- or Aquaculture “refers to the breeding, rearing, and harvesting of plants and animals (in this case fishes) in all types of water environments” (NOAA Fisheries). While, -ponics, from the word Hydroponics “is the growing of plants in a soil-less medium, or an aquatic-based environment” (Growth Technology).  When these two are combined they form a symbiotic-like relationship as shown in the diagram below:

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The fishes you can harvest in this type of setup are tilapia, catfish, trout, Koi, and goldfish. This is the advantage of home fish farming; you can eat your own fish in an organic way.  It uses 90% less water than traditional gardening and we did mention it requires no soil, right?  Aquaponics can be set up in parking lots, abandoned warehouses, schools, restaurants, homes and garages (Mother Earth News).

This was the project of Bahay Kubo Organics in Payatas which started in 2013. They built it using fish tanks, recycled plastic containers, PVC pipes, gravel or rocks, and metal bars. It is maintained by “Fairplay for All” charity and they grow pechay, cherry tomatoes, arugula, asitava, broccoli, and tilapia (Rappler). It also helps feed poor children in the center.

It may not only solve the hunger problem we are currently suffering. This setup is applicable to urban areas like Manila, which lacks soil. It also uses only 2% water that traditional farming uses (Aquaponics Blueprint).

Back in the time of our ancestors, vegetable patches in the backyard of a house are a common sight. Living is simple and mundane, but sustainable. Now, we could revive that again through aquaponics with the fishes as a bonus. We could put food on our plates and it could be a source of livelihood, too.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Colors and Uses of PVC Pipe in the Philippines

colored pvc pipes in the Philippines
PVC (Polyvinyl Chloride) pipes are the most commonly used material for piping systems in the Philippines. The ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) is an internationally recognized organization that develops and publishes the standards for the pipe’s pressured and non-pressured applications.

General Uses

Some of the widely used applications of it, as per,  are piping systems for plant irrigations, sewers, drain-waste-vents, water service lines, water mains, conduit, and various industrial installations.


The above-stated uses of PVC for piping systems were based on the quality of the material to provide a long usage lifespan, resistant to corrosion, environmentally sound, easy to install, cost effective, and widely accepted. That is why many companies are using PVC for most of their piping systems. It can even last for a hundred years.

Color Indicators
Electrical Conduit
Gas Distribution
All Purposes

Speaking of pipe uses, according to,  there are some indicators to know which type of pipe is to be for every piping system. For most water systems, blue colored pipes are used in main pipes. For most fire systems, red colored pipes are used. Purple colored pipes are used for water reclamation systems.  Green colored pipes are used for sanitary water systems. Orange colored pipes are used for telecommunications pipelines. Gray colored pipes are used for electrical conduit systems. Yellow colored pipes are used for gas distribution lines. And the white colored pipes are used for all types of applications.

Of all the other products invented or discovered using PVC, the pipe is the most commonly used and marketed since the second world war. Aside from that, other materials for making pipes are so scarce during that period, that is why PVC prevailed among them and made its name throughout those past years as the most cost effective and reliable piping material.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How HDPE Pipe is Assembled and Installed

We have discussed the different types of HDPE Pipe Fittings from the first two posts. We define what  an HDPE Pipe is and the several types of it that are mostly used in the piping industry. While the third post talks about how the lack of piping system affects the Agriculture in the Philippines.

But today, we will talk about the assembly and installation of HDPE Pipes through this video that I found from YouTube. This is shared by the user “adsancorpipe” and is entitled as “HDPE Pipe Installation Video – HDPE Pipe Assembly”. The video was uploaded back in June 28, 2010. It is described as an Innovative Drainage and Water Conservation Solutions using the Corrugated HDPE Pipes.


We learn from this video that it is very important to join the pipes properly to maintain high level of performance that the pipe is designed to provide.

The Assembly of the pipe is showed in step by step procedure.

  •  It should be lowered to the trench. Two workers should be enough to handle an 18-inch or smaller pipes. Larger pipes are lowered using nylon straps.
  • Once the pipes are lowered to the trench, the pipes should be cleansed to remove foreign matter.
  • Apply an approved lubricant on the bell and spigot of the gasket so that it can be aligned properly.
  • After the pipes are aligned properly, it can now be assembled.

The method of assembly is demonstrated by the video and other installation process and tips on how the job can easily be done. But there are major things to inspect the alignment and assembly of the joints.

  • Improper Alignment
  •  Foreign Material Infiltration
  • Rolled Gasket

Failure to correct any of those will compromise the joint integrity of the pipes.

Shortening and fabricating of pipes are also discussed. Scenarios like that also happen on the site of installation. But a tip is demonstrated to easily fix them and ensure the proper joining of pipes. A cut & joint kit is needed to accomplish that.

Workers are reminded that the:

“Writing on the gasket should be facing up and out toward the end of the pipe. It is important that the gasket is seated properly.”

And we are warned that the failure to do it properly will once again compromise the joint integrity.

Another tip is using a homing mark and measurement of the mark on the bell to make sure that the assembly is fitted properly.

That’s it folks! Thank you for dropping by, I hope you enjoyed our pipeful discussion. J

Friday, August 14, 2015


Agriculture has greatly played a big part in the early economy of the Philippines and in the past, there were years when we became one of the great exporters of agricultural products in Asia.  But despite the drastic plans for industrialization of our country and the fast intervention of technology in almost every aspect of our society, Philippines is still considered as an agricultural country for most of our citizens in the rural areas are still supporting themselves with agriculture.

It is true that we have seen better days of our agricultural assets. Importing products like corn, coconut, sugarcane, and rice has greatly declined in the past years. There are many visible proofs that things are not going too well when it comes to our agricultural standing, especially in the farming industry. Instead of exporting, we are now importing rice. The climate has not been friendly for us too; frequent storm visits are ruining crops and the long droughts and El Nino are creating dead seasons for planting. Soil for farming is becoming unfertile due to chemicals and pollution. Almost every decade, there are food scares like foot and mouth disease, red tide, bird flu, and mad cow disease.  Fields are turning into residential subdivision lots and golf courses. There are also little efforts for agrarian reform. We also lack research facilities. And the greatest threat to improve agriculture in The Philippines is that it is very costly for farmers to sustain crop rotation, fund fertilizer, and install reliable irrigation systems.

The inadequacy in funding for development and research of projects that will actually help farmers has been a pressing issue that has pushed farmers to find alternative solutions to continue cultivate their farms. One of the best breakthroughs in agriculture, to adapt to poor irrigation and drought, is building an HDPE pipe irrigation and sprinkler system. These plastic piping are ideal for Philippine climate since there are no harsh winters that may freeze the water inside the pipes and water is less likely to evaporate during warm days. HDPE pipes and fittings are lightweight which make them easy to handle and transport, and it is also available in broad range of sizes. These HDPE pipes can also be extended as watering systems for hydrating poultry and live stocks; cleaning stables, coops, and pens; and humidity control—a perfect fit for both small and big scale farms.

Having a reliable HDPE pipes in the Philippines irrigation and water system does secure some of the agricultural needs and lessens other labors that usually takes longer to accomplish. This idea has also opened up the minds of agriculturist to try alternatives that will somehow answer to the current agricultural situation such as indoor farming which also makes smart use of HDPE pipes.

It is relieving to see that there are alternatives available to save the industry that is once the pride and glory of the country. Let this serve as a wake-up call for us about the things that we take for granted for progress’s sake before it become just an agricultural pipe dream.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Pipe Fittings Applications and Example Part 2

In my previous post, I have enumerated several pipe fittings Philippines, in this post; I will continue to add more types of pipe fittings and their example.

This is just brief descriptions of additional types of fittings, and there may be more of them and not posted here. 


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Pipe Wyes are another pipe fitting that allows one pipe to join another pipe at some degree or angle. It is named as Wye because its name suggests, it is a Y-shaped fitting.


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Reducers according to Wikipedia is the component of a pipeline that reduces the pipe size from a larger to a smaller diameter. Normally, the length of the reduction is usually equal to the average of the larger and smaller pipe diameters. This also has two types, the concentric and eccentric reducer pipe fitting.

End Caps


End caps are pipe fittings that terminate a run by closing an end of the pipe. This used to stop liquid flow in a pipeline system.

Wall Anchors and Water Stops

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Wall anchors are used as a support for pipes by strapping it around the pipe within a wall. This makes the pipe secure, aligned and supported from possible dents from the wall. The movement of pipes is also reduced. Water stops are used to ensure that prevents thrust movement and ensure positive water sealing.

Branch saddles

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A pipe saddle is a structure that consists of a saddle and integral base that support the pipe by transmitting loads of forces to the adjacent structure. And branch saddles are used to make this support much stronger so the load is handled properly.

Transition Fittings


Transition fittings are the type of pipe fitting that is used mostly in natural gas distribution and systems. Most joint meeting in a piping system is supported by transition fittings.

Butterfly Valve Spacers

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The spacers are the types of fittings that are used in butterfly valves and are placed between flanges and valve to prevent damage to the disc when opening the valve. The flanges must be positioned properly and the disc must be partially open.

That’s it folks, the second part of the post is done. Stay tuned for more pipe discussion.

Monday, July 27, 2015

Pipe Fittings Applications and Example Part 1

Pipe Fittings are essential for various residential, industrial, fire protections, mining, slurry, mechanical, municipal, and irrigation applications.

Here are some of the types of pipe fittings in the Philippines and their example.

Pulling Heads

pulling head pipe fittings
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This type of pipe fitting is used for pulling pipes. It is attached to the end point of the pipe to enable accessibility of removing or replacing a pipe when needed. This fitting helps to make the task easy.


flanges pipe fittings
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This type of pipe fitting is used to for a rim at the end of a pipe when fastened to a pipe. It can be in plate or ring form. It can also be used in joining or connecting pipes and are bolted together.

Backup Rings

Back-Up Ring
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This type of pipe fitting is a rigid ring that holds an elastomeric seal to its shape and place. It is commonly used with 0-Rings, lip seals and as reciprocating shaft seals.

Molded Ells

molded ell 90 degree pipe fitting

The standard molded ells have 45 degree and 90 degree ells that come in ¾ inch to 12 inch (IPS) and 4 inch to 12 inch (DIPS). This type of pipe is made through injection molding.

Fabricated Ells

Fabricated Fittings 90 Degree Elbow
This is a special type of molded ell pipe fitting; it has variety of sizes and ranges from two segment 45 degree fittings, up to five 90 degrees sweep elbows.

Molded and Fabricated Tees

Molded Tees pipe fitting
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This type of pipe fitting is molded fitting that forms letter T. It can also be fabricated as reducing tees. Some forms are ButtXButtXSocket Tees, and ButtXButtXMPT Adapter Tees.


crosses pipe fitings

This pipe fitting is also called as the four-way fittings. The fitting becomes a cross if the branch line passes completely through a tee.

These are just some of the pipe fittings, their definition, application and sample picture. This post is for educational purposes only. I hope this is helpful and feel free to leave your comments and suggestions.