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Plumbing Industry Leadership Coalition calls for water infrastructure repair

April 11, 2014
PILC was founded in 2011 by Plumbing Manufacturers International, American Society of Plumbing Engineers and International Association of Plumbing & Mechanical Officials. PILC is now comprised of 14 organizations representing contractors, engineers, manufacturers and water utilities. PILC will call attention to the fact that aging infrastructure is to blame for the USA losing 1.7 trillion gallons of water each year. 3 billion gallons of water per day would be saved, about 7% of total publicly supplied water, by retrofitting pre-1992 toilets, showerheads, faucets, and urinals.  

April marks a big month for the plumbing industry. In addition to the International Emerging Technologies Symposium be held in Washington, D.C., 14 plumbing industry trade associations will convene for the third time, as part of the Plumbing Industry Leadership Coalition (PILC). Leaders from across the nation in plumbing will come together to address aging infrastructure, maximizing water efficiency, and exploring workforce best practices among other topics to be discussed during this annual meeting at the headquarters of the National Institute of Building Sciences.

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

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 constituents 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!”

PILC is now comprised of 14 organizations, each represented by the top volunteer and top staff person. A special invitation was extended this year to Ralph Suppa, president and general manager of the Canadian Institute of Plumbing & Heating (CIPH).   

In addition to PMI, ASPE, IAPMO and CIPH, conference attendees include the leadership from Copper Development Association, Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute, Water Quality Association, Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors – National Association, Mechanical Contractors Association of America/Plumbing Contractors Association, American Supply Association, Plastic Pipe & Fittings Association, American Backflow Prevention Association, American Rainwater Catchment Systems Association and the Alliance for Water Efficiency.

While the focus of water efficiency programs is often on squeezing a lower level of flow rates from plumbing fixtures and fittings, PILC will call attention to the fact that aging infrastructure is to blame for much 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.

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

EPA conservatively estimates that 3 billion gallons of water per day would be saved, 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.

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 WaterSense 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!

Following the PILC, the International Emerging Technology Symposium is meeting April 23-24, 2014, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott in Arlington, Va., near Washington. IETS is co-sponsored by PMI, ASPE, IAPMO, CIPH, MCAA, PHCC-National Association, the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters, and the World Plumbing Council. 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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