As seen in the Tried & True Fall 2022 issue
While agricultural drainage may be a common implementation of Fratco products, many experienced contractors know that drainage technology also intersects with a wide variety of industries beyond food production.
For those less familiar with the universal importance of water management systems, here are just a few examples of industries that depend on good drainage. Keep them in mind the next time you’re cruising down the highway, taking off for a vacation or hitting the green at your favorite golf course. After all, there may be Fratco pipe buried beneath your feet!
In the rural sprawl of the Midwest, every brick and mortar business needs a place for customers to park. Those parking lots need drainage systems that protect their asphalt surfaces from water. If you’ve ever encountered a paved lot that looks to be in the process of turning into gravel, then you were probably parking in a place with poor drainage. Preventing this sort of damage is much easier and cost-effective than attempting to repair it after the fact.
Parking lot drainage systems are a beast all their own, though. With no need to retain water for crops, maximum space for excess water is created by burying plastic “chambers”—things that look similar to bisected lengths of plastic pipe—in tight and compact rows. From there, water is free to quickly drain into lower gradients of earth beneath the lot.
In addition to subterranean drainage, a parking lot may also require a fine balance of water basins, grates and proper slope to ensure water flows where intended. Who would have thought that something as seemingly simple as a parking lot could require so much engineering?
Golf courses are another place with a particular need for effective drainage. Unlike the paved surfaces of parking lots, golf courses need systems that facilitate fertile conditions on the fairway above. Therefore, drainage needs to be arranged in well-thought out grids and patterns that more closely resemble agricultural layouts.
Athletic fields also rely on subsurface drainage systems to maintain optimal conditions for competition. Live grass and artificial turf alike are damaged by improper water management, creating potentially dangerous playing conditions for athletes. The artificial turf of Algona High School’s football field, for example, was desperately in need of updated drainage when Fratco offered to assist.
While most homeowners aren’t digging trenches in their yards, consider the structural needs of paved subdivisions where homes are built. Without an underlying water management system in place, cul de sacs across the nation would quickly turn into wading pools infested with all kinds of unwelcome pests.
Contractors working in the residential business must collaborate with planners and officials, integrating their installations into city sewer systems to ensure the drainage needs of each community are met.
Just like parking lots and subdivisions, drainage systems are essential to the longevity of highways and roads. Here, corrugated pipe works its wonders to keep water levels low and infrastructure dry.
Many railway lines also require drainage systems beneath their foundations to prevent water damage to tracks. According to the American Association of Railways, 1.7 billion tons of cargo are transported via freight train every year in the United States. In the absence of good drainage, the entire economy could crumble alongside the railroads that supply it.
Finally, what is an airport’s runway but a really big parking lot for planes? Miles and miles of corrugated pipe lie beneath America’s travel hubs, protecting paved surfaces that must remain in excellent condition for takeoff and landing.
The Bureau of Transportation Statistics reports that over 600 million people traveled by plane in America in 2021 alone—all of them protected from bumpy landings, in large part, thanks to HDPE pipe systems.
UNIQUE PROJECTS AND MORE
Not every piece of pipe is used for drainage—at least not at Fratco. In special cases, certain designs and materials can be retrofitted for non-drainage products and purposes.
In line with Fratco’s mission of sustainability, for example, some materials are used in partnerships to create specialized containers for transporting fresh fruit around the world. As an extension of the company’s Americana roots and family focus, Fratco has helped other companies create baseball field fence toppers. While effective drainage solutions will always be Fratco’s first priority, it’s interesting to see how quality materials can be put to alternative uses.
The examples given in this article highlight the interlocking importance of quality drainage solutions. The food grown on farms needs drainage pipe just as much as railroads need proper drainage to transport those yields. The businesses that process and sell those products need proper drainage installed so customers can visit their stores and put food on their tables. From seed to storefront, the country remains well-fed thanks to the water management structures in place. Proper drainage is an invisible and under-appreciated aspect of national infrastructure—one that is absolutely critical.