Liquid News

Use of Purple Pipes Originated at Irvine Ranch Water District

About that Irvine Purple

Recycled water use in Southern California was gaining momentum in the early 1980s and Irvine Ranch Water District engineers were researching ways to differentiate between the pipes that carry recycled water and those serving drinking water.

The head of the IRWD Planning Department asked one of the engineers to come up with a color palette, thinking that using a different color pipe for recycled water would be effective. A challenge came with this request - the department head was severely color blind and only saw shades of gray.

“But he pointed to purple on the chart, because even though he only saw gray, this stood out from the rest,” said IRWD Principal Engineer Steve Malloy. “So he chose that, saying if it looked different to him, others could see it.”

IRWD worked with the American Water Works Association to set purple pipe for recycled water as an national standard. Wherever recycled water is used, purple pipe is used, which is known as “Irvine Purple.”

For more information about recycled water use, please visit our website.

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