Steamboat Resort – Wildhorse Supply Line 2007

A major land development project was being completed, between the Primary Pump Station and the mountain base area; creating new easements and infrastructure systems; making it necessary to relocate sections of existing supply pipe.   Because major construction would be completed in 2007, and because of the age of the existing supply pipeline; Steamboat decided to replace the entire steel pipe line with VRS®-T DI pipe.

Project Background:

Preceding 2006 Steamboat was aware of a major land development project being planned in the Wildhorse and Steamboat Place regions, including significant land between the Primary Pump Station and the base terminal of the Gondola.  The primary water supply pipeline for the entire snowmaking system passes through these regions.   In 2006 all permits were received by external interests to complete this development, and Steamboat was advised that this development would be completed during the 2007 construction season.  This development would create new easements and infrastructure systems, which would make it necessary to relocate some of the existing supply pipeline.   Rather than replace small sections of this pipeline just to suit specific constraints; because of the age of the entire pipeline; and, because the entire region would be under major construction during 2007; Steamboat decided to replace the entire steel pipeline in 2007.

Project Challenges:

Find a piping system that would satisfy the high pressures required, in this large diameter pipe; would improve the longevity of the steel pipe system; could be installed easily and quickly, to coordinate with other construction being completed simultaneously; would provide the flexibility to deal with easement and infrastructure constraints that would occur through the entire area, would deal with other constraints in regions close to the base area, caused by major utility systems; and, would minimize environmental damage throughout the entire project region.   More specifically:

High Pressures:

Normal operating pressures in this water supply pipeline are 1100 psig, with surge pressures up to 1250 psig.   These pressures are higher than normal in any snowmaking system, but are especially high for the larger diameter pipe used in this supply pipeline.


Corrosion of any material is based on the corrosivity of the environment surrounding the material. Steel snowmaking pipe in normal alpine environments has a longevity ranging from 20 to 35 years, depending on the soil corrosivity.  Currently there are other materials available that will provide longevity that is superior to steel.

Short Timelines:

Throughout the entire project, there will be other construction by other different contractors, occurring simultaneously with the pipeline replacement.   Project coordination by all parties will be critical, and the ability install pipe easily and quickly, on short notice, will be essential in efforts to coordinate smoothly with all other construction being completed simultaneously.


Throughout the entire region between the Primary Pump Station and the base area, especially adjacent to the Gondola, new property easements will be created, and new infrastructure facilities will be developed.  Both will create constraints.

Utility Systems:

In regions close to the bottom terminal of the Gondola there are significant and complex networks of utility systems.

Environmental Sustainability:

A primary goal with all pipe installations in all alpine regions is to select/use materials which protect ecosystems, and maximize the integrity and sustainability of the natural resources.   Ductile Iron (DI) materials from TRM have unique characteristics, not available with other pipe systems, including:

  • DI pipe is produced using +98% recyclable materials.
  • Joint design requires no welding or open flames at any time during pipe assembly/installation.
  • Joint design requires much less force to assemble; and, much smaller/lighter construction equipment for installation.
  • Easier assembly and smaller/lighter construction equipment make it possible to complete assembly/installation in much shorter timelines, providing much longer periods for terrain clean-up and restoration.

Project Solution:

On previous projects, management at Steamboat had completed product research to study, review and evaluate other pipe systems which might improve the longevity and performance of the steel system.   As part of this research study Steamboat contacted Engineers at PNP Supply, to gain additional information on the VRS®-T system from TRM, and discuss how this system would benefit this project.  Based on this research and these discussions, Steamboat Resort selected the High Pressure MDR Ductile Iron (DI) pipe system for several reasons:

Advantages of the VRS®-T System:

  • The VRS®-T joint design was a special design for this system, to allow the large diameter pipe in this system (DN400) to support the unusually high operating and surge (1100/1250 psig) pressures in this system.
  • The DUPLEX coating on all pipe provides active and passive corrosion protection, and a unique sacrificial repair mechanism for any pipe damage exposing bare metal.   These characteristics extend the longevity of this pipe even more.
  • Angular joint deflection provides flexibility to deal with constraints caused by new easements/infrastructure facilities throughout the entire construction areas.  Also, in regions through the base area, especially the base terminal of the gondola, this flexibility makes it possible to deal with significant and complex utility system networks. Refer to photos below.
  • The VRS®-T joint requires ±38% less force to assemble each joint; and, with the soft flexible gasket used in this joint, alignment of the pipe is not as critical.   Both issues make it much easier to assemble this pipe, requiring shorter timelines; very important  coordination of the pipe work with all other construction being completed simultaneously.
  • The VRS®-T joint requires smaller and lighter construction equipment, making it possible to move construction equipment more easily and on short notice; also, a major benefit in being able to coordinate pipe work with all other construction site work much more effectively in a shorter timeline.

Project Team Members:

CLIENT:  Steamboat Resort
DESIGN:  Alford Design Group LLC Master Plan
CONTRACTOR:   In-house Personnel


Wildhorse Supply Line - 2007

DN400 High Press MDR DI Water

Steamboat Resort,
Steamboat Springs, CO

3000 ft of pipe

Snowmaking Pipelines
Main Supply Line


Environmental Sustainability
Physical Constraints
Short Timeline
Utility Systems