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Plumbing Industry Leadership Coalition tackles strategic issues

March 28, 2014
Topics to be explored by PILC, include, but are not limited to: Water leakage resulting from our aging infrastructure. Installing water-efficient plumbing fixtures can reduce water usage by billions of gallons a day. Important aspects about WaterSense products. 

This month, 14 plumbing industry trade associations will convene for the third time in Washington, D.C., as part of the Plumbing Industry Leadership Coalition (PILC).

Addressing aging infrastructure, maximizing water efficiency, and exploring workforce best practices will be among several topics to be discussed during this annual meeting at the headquarters of the National Institute of Building Sciences.

Each of the 14 organizations will be represented by the top volunteer and top staff person. They have submitted topic ideas to discuss.

PILC was founded in 2011 by Barbara C Higgens, CEO/Executive Director of Plumbing Manufacturing International (PMI); Jim Kendzel of American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE) and Russ Chaney of International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO) to facilitate high level strategic discussions among membership-based organizations, on issues impacting the plumbing community.

A special invitation this year was extended to Ralph Suppa, president and general manager of the Canadian Institute of Plumbing and Heating (CIPH).   

I’m a big believer in bringing groups together for greater results. PMI’s success is due in large part to the partnerships we have formed. Despite the breadth of the PILC constituants it is apparent that we are more similar than disparate. By working together on shared interests, we will accomplish much more. To quote an African proverb: “If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go farther, go together!”

In addition to PMI, ASPE, IAPMO and CIPH, conference attendees include the leadership from Copper Development Association (CDA), Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute (CISPI), Water Quality Association (WQA), Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors Association (PHCCA), Mechanical Contractors Association/Plumbing Contractors Association (MCA/PCA), American Supply Association (ASA), Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association (PPFA), American Backflow Prevention Association (ABPA), American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association (ARCSA) and Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE).

As an example of the topics to be explored by PILC, it is noted that while the focus of efficiency programs is often on the next-lower level of flow rates of plumbing products, aging infrastructure is to blame for greater water loss. 

Nationwide, the USA loses 1.7 trillion gallons of water each year, which the U.S. Geological Survey estimates is the equivalent to 16% of treated water never reaching the tap. This is the direct result of an aging and rapidly deteriorating system of pipes and plants that comprise our nation's water infrastructure.

While there is an urgent need to address rampant water leakage resulting from our aging infrastructure, by simply replacing old, water-intensive plumbing fixtures and installing water-efficient plumbing fixtures, we can reduce water usage by billions of gallons a day.

As an effective intermediary step to the much needed replacement of aging infrastructure, PMI will present and seek support for a position to urge the retrofit of inefficient legacy plumbing products. By simply updating products in the field to EPA Water Sense performance standards, trillions of gallons of water per day can be easily and effectively saved. PMI poses the challenge: Why chase drops when we can save (trillions of) gallons!

EPA conservatively estimates that 3 billion gallons of water per day in water savings would be achieved, about 7% of total publicly supplied water, by retrofitting pre-1992 toilets, showerheads, faucets, and urinals in residences and buildings with products meeting the current law, as well as WaterSense labeled products. A few important aspects about WaterSense products are listed below:

  • WaterSense labeled plumbing products are 20% more water-efficient than products meeting the current federal law, and also have been independently tested and certified to meet efficiency and performance standards.
  • WaterSense products are easily found at local home improvement stores, as well as showrooms across the country, and are available in a wide variety of price points and broad range of styles.
  • Water efficient plumbing products help consumers and communities reduce the strain on our aging infrastructure.

Following the PILC, the International Emerging Technology Symposium is meeting April 23-24, 2014, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va., near Washington, D.C. IETS is co-sponsored by PMI, ASPE, IAPMO, CIPH, Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA), PHCC, United Association (UA), and World Plumbing Council (WPC). The program includes a number of discussions on important and diverse topics affecting the industry!

Barbara C. Higgens is CEO/executive director of Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) and oversees the international trade association representing manufacturers of most plumbing fixtures and fittings used in North America. Since joining PMI in April 1998, Barbara has served as a respected spokesperson for the plumbing industry, sharing and advocating the views of PMI members.

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