Source: PVC Pipe Association, Dallas
Emulating a national debt clock, a new website tracks a reported 800-plus water main breaks daily across North America. Watermainbreak.com sponsor, the PVC Pipe Association, contends that corrosion of old-technology pipe materials remains the leading cause of water delivery and sewage treatment systems leaks and breaks, with an annual tab exceeding $3 billion. Accompanying cost data on the site are charts showing “break rates” and repair costs per 100 miles of installed water mains: 1.17 and $11,700 for PVC versus 15.87 and $158,700 for ductile iron.
Repair, emergency equipment, depleted water supply, traffic disruption, and lost work time costs are “astounding,” says PVC Pipe Association Executive Director Bruce Hollands. “Some local governments and utilities continue to use outdated, costly pipe material that corrodes over a very short period of time.” A corrosion crisis stems from the materials used in America’s underground pipe networks over the last 100 years, he adds, noting how ductile iron gradually succeeded originally specified cast iron pipe, while both materials “now suffer the ravages of corrosion.”
“With government budgets depleted and debts spiraling out of control, the corrosion crisis is a ticking time bomb,” Hollands contends. “PVC’s cost-effectiveness and sustainability are important qualities city and local lawmakers should be considering and taxpayers demanding. Local governments must first repair outdated procurement practices before repairing critical infrastructure.”