Statement on Legislation That Will Improve Water Quality and Efficiency
The IAPMO Group and Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) applaud the House Science, Space and Technology Committee for advancing legislation reauthorizing the National Institute of Standards and Technology and calling for the creation of a program for premise plumbing research. During the July 27 committee mark-up of the bill, US Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.) was successful in offering an important amendment to H.R. 4609, the National Institute of Standards and Technology for the Future Act of 2021, that would authorize funding at NIST to conduct practical, water-related research on systems within homes and buildings, addressing critical issues such as water quality, efficiency, reuse, sustainability and resilience.
A new program at NIST will help to combat a 900-percent increase in Legionnaires’ disease since 2000. Legionnaires’ disease is an infection caused by the bacteria Legionella. Symptoms of the disease include fever, cough and pneumonia, while a milder infection can look like a flu-like illness without pneumonia. The sickness can be deadly in older patients or those with other risk factors. Reports of the infection are more common in the summer and early fall when warming, stagnant waters present the best environment for bacterial growth in water systems. News articles from across the country detail the prevalence of this public health challenge.
“From the exponential growth of Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks to increasing housing affordability, the industry is waiting and ready to apply the findings of this research to tackle major issues,” said IAPMO CEO Dave Viola. “We applaud Rep. Tonko and other committee members for recognizing this need and including it in this important piece of legislation. This will have a direct, positive impact on America’s homes and buildings today and for the foreseeable future.”
Over the years, IAPMO and PMI have worked with Congress and NIST to address and prioritize research needs on plumbing. Rep. Tonko’s amendment is based on legislation developed by Rep. Matt Cartwright (D-PA) and Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), who have both previously introduced legislation to expand NIST’s efforts on drinking water. In May 2020, NIST published a report that identified nearly 60 specific research needs and challenges faced by the plumbing industry. This report provides a useful roadmap for addressing those needs through applied research and codes and standards activities.
Kerry Stackpole, PMI CEO, said that “American consumers have the benefit of state-of-the-art water efficient plumbing fittings and fixtures; however, the legacy plumbing that carries water to these fixtures in our homes and offices are based on research and data from the 1930s.” Stackpole noted that “updated research and data by NIST, in conjunction with academia, industry and other key stakeholders, would significantly improve the water efficiency and safety in water systems across the nation.”
Another important issue that will be addressed by NIST research is the sizing of plumbing systems in buildings. Much has changed in the way Americans use water since the 1920s and 1930s when Dr. Roy Hunter, working for the National Bureau of Standards, the predecessor to NIST, developed the method for predicting water use demands in a building and determining how large systems need to be to accommodate those demands. While minor updates have been made over the years to these methods, they are still used today in plumbing codes despite the many improvements and efficiencies made to plumbing fixtures, appliances and other water-using equipment in subsequent years. As a result, it is widely recognized that today’s plumbing systems are often grossly oversized, resulting in increased building costs, wasted water and energy, and declining water quality. The research will seek to resolve this problem and lead to a method for determining plumbing system sizes that are more appropriate for the particular building.
IWSH Support Pledge
The International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation (IWSH) is honored to announce that Southern California Pipe Trades District Council 16 and the Southwest Pipe Trades Association have become the latest IWSH Gold-level Global Partners. Through this collaboration, IWSH and the pipe trades will continue their important work bringing water and sanitation to communities in need.
On the Navajo Nation in the Southwestern United States, IWSH is teaming up with the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States and Canada (UA) and the DigDeep Navajo Water Project to deliver mobile wash stations to designated points on the reservation. The organizations have also collaborated on Community Plumbing Challenges that brought clean, running water and safe wastewater disposal to more than a dozen homes and a temporary chapter house on the Navajo Nation. In Texas, IWSH worked with UA Plumbers Local 68 (Houston) to highlight and address water-quality issues in Nome that were aggravated by winter storm conditions.
Southern California Pipe Trades District Council 16 represents 13 UA locals in Southern California, with jurisdiction spanning from San Luis Obispo and Bakersfield to Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside and San Bernardino County, and San Diego. “The most vital part of human life is water, and we at Southern California Pipe Trades District Council 16 are fortunate and honored to be given the opportunity to align ourselves with an organization that gives so much back to this vital resource,” said Business Manager/Financial Secretary Rodney Cobos. “No matter how remote the location nor the challenges it presents, we will continue to assist and support this endeavor.”
The Southwest Pipe Trades Association (SWPTA) was chartered in 1914 to represent the common interests of the union workers and Mechanical Contractors Association of America (MCAA) contractors of the Southwest plumbing and pipefitting industry. The SWPTA proudly serves the highly trained journeymen and apprentice plumbers, pipefitters, welders, sprinkler fitters, and HVAC-R service technicians of the 13 local unions of Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico.
“The members and leadership of the Southwest Pipe Trades Association have a core belief in protecting the health and safety of this nation,” said SWPTA Political Director Ron Lord. “Providing safe drinking water through projects by IWSH is simply a continuation toward that fundamental idea. Working collaboratively with the Southwest Pipe Trades Association, IWSH and all the other partners who volunteer time, money, people and resources in pursuit of safe drinking water for those without it is an honor and a worthwhile endeavor.”
“The support of these two pipe trades associations is another massive boost for IWSH,” said IWSH Managing Director Seán Kearney. “Not only does their generous financial backing further enable our work across the US and internationally, but their endorsement really helps us build further connections with the skilled men and women of the United Association, who always contribute so much to the IWSH cause. In turn, we hope that the experiences of supporting IWSH on the ground provide unique personal and professional development opportunities for these skilled volunteers. We are very grateful for their support and participation and will keep doing all we can to drive these collaborations forward.”
For more information on Southern California Pipe Trades District Council 16, visit https://www.dc16.org/. For more information on the SWPTA, visit https://southwestpipetrades.com/ Visit www.iwsh.org to learn more about The International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation.