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Historic Nantucket’s Sea Street Third Sewer Force Main Project

Matt Siegel on December 6, 2023 - in Articles, Feature, Featured

Located about 30 miles south of Cape Cod off the coast of Massachusetts, the island of Nantucket—originally settled in 1641—is a long-time tourist destination and vacation haven. Designated as a National Historic Landmark District, Nantucket is noted for its 18th– and 19th-century architecture and may only be reached by boat, ferry or airplane. During the summer months, when tourism reaches its highest point, the population on the island swells from just more than 14,000 to more than 80,000. To provide a proper, strong infrastructure for such a popular, high-dollar, high-profile location, choosing the right product solution at the right time is of the utmost importance.

With a failing sewer system on the island, the worst was prioritized first to be addressed quickly. The original force mains on Nantucket were constructed in 1930 and 1981. The reality of aging infrastructure is a nationwide challenge, but the issue came to a head for this beautiful residential island about five years ago.

In 2018, the Sea Street Third Sewer 16-inch force main on Nantucket—which carried up to 3 million gallons per day of wastewater and 70 percent of collected sewage—experienced catastrophic failure due to deterioration. The town prioritized the project and agreed it needed to be addressed quickly. Due to the age and condition of the 16-inch force main, the town concluded it should no longer be relied upon to convey wastewater flows from the Sea Street Pump Station (SSPS) to the Surfside Wastewater Treatment Facility (WWTF) without an additional backup pipe.

The town soon implemented a sewer project that would include the installation of a new sewer force main to connect the SSPS to the WWTF, rehabilitate an ageing 20-inch force main, and retire the failed 16-inch force main, replacing it with a new one.


The Nantucket project required the construction of a third force main with minimal disruption to this popular tourist destination. On the logistical side, all pipe manufactured for the project must be delivered to a staging area directly off the production line due to jobsite constraints. Additionally, the chosen manufacturer and contractor would need to manufacture and deliver the pipe in coordination with a set barge schedule to maximize shipping efficiency and minimize handling by the contractor while meeting a tight installation timeline during the busy tourist season and unpredictable summer weather.

The size and location of Nantucket presented a significant challenge when it came to transporting materials to the island quickly and in large quantities. The magnitude of the pipe required barges, but given the time of year, the situation of the building products market, and ongoing supply chain difficulties, finding a solution was exceptionally challenging.

The manufacturer/distributor/contractor team would need to prioritize the project when it came to making the pipes and shipping them to the island—all dependent on barge schedules.

Adding even more challenge: the fact that the island in question is popular, with many high-profile residents.


Given their product breadth and technical knowledge, contractor Robert B. Our and distributor Ferguson Enterprises Water Works selected National Pipe & Plastics (National) for the project.

The National team jumped in with both feet and made crucial decisions necessary to navigate the logistical and budget requirements. Throughout the process, the National team leaned on their key strategic capabilities as guiding principles to enable them to collaboratively develop a total customized solution that went beyond simply providing a product. Following these guidelines, National was able to manufacture the necessary pipe, coordinate shipping of it to the island and time it perfectly with the barge schedule.

While the installation itself was simple, the interwoven logistics resulted in significant challenges along the way and all contractors being under a steady microscope to perform and meet tight deadlines. Once the complicated logistics were underway, the product had reached the on-island point of exit, the barge had been unloaded and the contractor had officially taken over the project, the National team stayed around to help and troubleshoot as needed. While installation of the National pipe product is simple, the company prides itself on troubleshooting onsite, delivering the highest level of service throughout the project, and being a good partner and contractor to customers and projects with challenging logistical issues.  

After the project was completed and the force main problem was solved, Nantucket was made stronger by a brand-new reliable PVC piping system—and a brand-new sewer—designed to provide security and reliability for the entire island.

Why PVC?

The product chosen for the Nantucket project was PVC pipe from National Pipe & Plastics. The PVC option offers a consistently superior product with a low total cost of ownership over the pipe’s 100-year-plus lifecycle. The product is durable, costs less to install than other alternatives, and is more cost-effective across the board. PVC pipes are lightweight, corrosion-resistant, easy to install, offer decades of service and are environmentally friendly in that all scraps created in the process are reused, creating an ideal cradle-to-grave reality. This latest and greatest in pipe technology ensures project reliability and security for the whole island.

Strict quality control within National for each pipe, through hydrostatic testing (per AWWA standard) to ensure performance once installed, results in a product that’s highly corrosion-resistant and is ideal for the rigorous conveyance of wastewater and sewage.


Due to the highly corrosive environment present on Nantucket, PVC was the perfect choice for a replacement sewer force main. A failing sewer system was replaced, the problem was solved, and the entire manufacturer/distributor/contractor team was able to execute an intricate plan dealing with multiple layers of challenges and create a strong success.

By calling upon their superior product breadth, ongoing technical knowledge, organizational strength and process standardization, National was able to complete the project with an exceptional level of ease of business that resulted in a greater connection with the customer, the installation contractor, and the town of Nantucket. Product availability, technical proficiency, a deep level of understanding of the challenges of the job and working in concert with all project team members to fully execute the installation resulted in a successful outcome for the island.

“National Pipe & Plastics was an instrumental partner in helping us start this monumental project for the island of Nantucket,” says Robert B. Our of Our Company. “We relied on them to deliver a large quantity of force main pipe in a short window, and they delivered.”

“For both water and sewer projects, the Nantucket project is a perfect example of how to work together to solve aging infrastructure issues,” notes Matt Siegel, vice president, National Pipe & Plastics, a CRH company. “PVC is a commodity; it comes down to the people and the ability for a company to successfully partner with distributors and contractors that makes the difference—we make it easy to choose us because we’re good at what we do; we give straight answers; we overcommunicate with every single customer in order to ensure success; we work together to find the best, customized, strongest solution for our customers; and we make it easy to choose our latest and greatest pipe technology products.”

Project Specs

Plant: National Pipe & Plastics, Endicott, NY

Client: Town of Nantucket, Mass.

NPP: Peter Craner, national sales manager

Distributor: Ferguson Enterprises Water Works

Contractor: Robert B. Our, Our Company


7,980’ – 24” DR-18 AWWA C-900 sewer force main

9,640’ – 20” DR-18 AWWA C-900 sewer force main

1,344’ – 12” SDR-35 ASTM D 3034

Gravity sewer 308’ – 10” SDR-35 ASTM D 3034

Gravity sewer 2,772’ – 8” SDR-35 ASTM D 3034




About Matt Siegel

Matt Siegel is president of National Pipe & Plastics; email: [email protected].

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