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North America's underground infrastructure is crumbling at an alarming rate, so smarter, more cost-effective and sustainable practices are needed.
Broader use of PVC pipe would solve this problem and enable municipalities to spend taxpayer dollars more wisely. To do this, local governments and utilities need to modernize outdated procurement practices that ignore corrosion-proof PVC pipe.
Explore our web site and visit my blog to learn about the exceptional performance and environmental attributes of PVC pipe, and why it should be included in every bid for water and wastewater infrastructure. To connect to my blog, bookmark this page or link our Pipe Issues Blog to your RSS feed program.
Industry expert and Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association Executive Director Bruce Hollands shares the facts.
Conservative safety factors are key to the durability and cost-effectiveness of today’s infrastructure. Utility engineers have helped to ensure the longevity and high performance of North America’s piping networks by adhering to a minimum safety factor of 2.0 for their water system designs. Unfortunately, the polyethylene (HDPE) pipe industry is proposing a risky revision to the AWWA C906 standard that will reduce the safety factor on pressure class to 1.6. The change is based on material properties unrelated to pressure capacity and for which there is no precedence or valid scientific basis. Moreover, discussion of this issue has been muddled by the HDPE pipe industry’s inclusion of unrelated arguments about improvements in the “design factor.”
A 2010 U.S. Conference of Mayors report stated that spending requirements for the next 20 years (2009-2028) for both water and wastewater systems including capital, operations and maintenance and growth was $3.8 trillion. The underground pipes, as the EPA points out, are nearly 60 percent of the total costs and as a result are where municipalities can achieve significant savings. The cost of water pipes and their long-term performance are critical.
A recent article by Indianapolis Mayor Gregory A. Ballard, which appeared in the U.S. Conference of Mayors Water Council Newsletter, discusses how water main breaks declined in his city through the use of green, durable and cost-effective PVC pipe, realizing significant savings for rate payers
In his recent book, Confessions of a Greenpeace Dropout, Co-founder and former Leader of Greenpeace, Dr. Patrick Moore discusses the importance and usefulness of PVC pipe to our society as well as its environmental and safety attributes. He says: “It is far superior to concrete or steel pipes as it seldom breaks down and does not corrode. Vinyl pipe that has been buried for 50 years shows no sign of corrosion or decay. It is likely it could remain in service for 500 years or more…”
The bond market and investors are becoming increasingly aware of the rising costs of water and sewer services and the reluctance of elected officials to increase rates necessary to maintain adequate financial stability. As lenders, they want to know that utilities are pursuing sustainable water infrastructure options like open materials selections of non-corrosive pipes like PVC and other infrastructure asset management best practices.
A recent article from the AWWA Journal argues that PVC pipe is the most cost-effective and environmentally sound solution to the corrosion crisis afflicting U.S. water systems.
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