According to an article distributed on the PVC Pipe Association website, each year, more than 300,000 water main breaks occur throughout North America – or some 850 every day – mainly as a result of the continued use of corrosion-prone iron piping in the nation’s water systems. Moreover, according to a congressional study, corrosion costs U.S. drinking water and wastewater systems over $50.7 billion annually or more than $1 trillion dollars over the next 20 years.
While action must be taken to upgrade the nation’s infrastructure, the PVC Pipe Association is urging Congress not to write blank checks to local governments and utilities with outdated, closed procurement policies that exclude corrosion-proof piping materials for water and wastewater infrastructure.
At a recent hearing of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, ductile iron industry representatives requested that congress provide financial aid to local governments to help replace their crumbling water mains. PVC Pipe Association Executive Director Bruce Hollands noted that the federal government should require that taxpayer dollars invested in local infrastructure be spent in and open and competitive manner that all pipe technologies are considered.
Open procurement stipulations are not a novel idea, says Hollands, noting that the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Rural Development Office already requires rural communities receiving funding for water/wastewater infrastructure “to conduct procurements in a manner that provides maximum open and free competition.” The USDA’s Rural Utilities Service (RUS) “expects the owner and design engineer to be open to reasonable alternatives during the facility planning and design process. Contractors, manufacturers, and suppliers with acceptable equipment and materials should have a chance to participate in the project… the goal is to construct the project at the best price for the system customers and the taxpayer.”
He contends that this policy should become the model for all government departments.