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Plastic Pipe Is Key To Water Infrastructure

By Richard Doyle

Richard Doyle is the president & CEO of the Vinyl Institute


As our next administration and Congress grapple with the challenge of improving our nation’s deteriorating water infrastructure, they should keep one fact in mind. Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe is the safest and most durable and affordable material available today to replace our aging underground systems and serve the interests of U.S. taxpayers.

PVC pipe costs less, and lasts longer, than iron pipe. The foremost experts on pipe durability have confirmed it. City officials in Pleasanton, California, have validated it, noting that ductile iron pipe is 70 percent more expensive than PVC pipe. PVC pipe failures are “extremely rare” — and Burton, Michigan, is saving over $2 million by replacing dilapidated iron pipe with efficient, high-performance PVC. It is lead-free and has been certified by the National Sanitation Foundation International for safe water delivery (the same standards the Environmental Protection Agency adopted for its own drinking water advisory programs back in 1990).

Iron pipe, by contrast, is prone to corrosion, and the resulting bacteria buildup can affect the quality of drinking water. As iron pipe corrodes, its useful life is reduced and can lead to premature failures and costly leaks and repairs. The iron pipe industry now makes available ductile iron pipe, which corrodes even more quickly than traditional iron pipe, due to the material’s thinner walls, leading to increased breakage and loss of water.

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