It is early in the morning when an excavator hits a water pipe in a residential area in Apeldoorn. In the following hours thousands liters of water flush away the soil supporting a nearby gas pipe and it subsequently breaks. Sequentially the gas pipe gets flooded with water and dirt and over a total length of 6km gas pipes are polluted. It took a week to clean out all the pipes, causing 1317 households to be cut off of gas. In hindsight the initial damage of restoring a broken water pipe is €1000,- to €5000,- depending on the type of pavement, extra costs for excavators, etc. These costs are disproportionate to the sequential repair costs of more than €500k for the Dutch gas network operator, Liander.
This case is not unique. Low pressure gas pipes in the proximity of water mains are often at a high risk of being damaged. Scanning the networks of both water network operators and gas network operators for locations with conditions similar to historical damage cases can deliver the rationale for preventive measurements. Reinforcing gas-pipes on X locations at highest risk may prove to be a fraction of the costs of just one of them breaking.