Billions of taxpayer dollars are going down the drain

An interesting letter to editor of The Hill, about the affordability and efficiency of PVC pipe and the need for reform in federal water projects.

Our water infrastructure is in crisis. Over 850 water main breaks occur each day and some 2.6 trillion gallons of potable water are lost yearly through crumbling, corroding, leaking pipes. The cost to taxpayers in lost treated water alone is some $4 billion annually.

A 2002 congressional study determined that corrosion costs water and waste water systems a total of over $50.7 billion annually. We also waste an estimated $4.1 billion a year on energy pumping water through broken and corroded pipes.

Since January 2000, corrosion of water and sewer systems has cost nearly a half-trillion dollars. The problem is so acute that corrosion is literally undermining our ability to replace and repair our piping infrastructure, which needs an estimated $1.1 trillion dollar investment over the next 20 years.

Despite this staggering waste, Congress is already spending billions on water and sewer projects while leaving proven, better technology out of the bidding process. Among those superior technologies is PVC, which has been used in water systems across the country for more than five decades. Not only is PVC corrosion-free, it is also the most affordable and durable pipe material available.

Conversions to PVC in sanitary systems alone are already saving an estimated $270 million a year and an amazing $1.5 trillion over the next century. Moreover, converting our nation’s entire sanitary system to PVC would save another $800 million a year and $4.5 trillion over the next 100 years.

The solution to our infrastructure crisis is clear. However, implementing it will require that water-system projects funded with federal dollars have open bidding and use the best-performing and most affordable material available.

Bruce Hollands
Executive Director, Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association
Dallas, Texas