The Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association—DIPRA—makes a lot of its self-professed commitment to the truth. In a post entitled “Fact or Fiction: Trust Your Experience” DIPRA pledges to be “forthright and factual,” in presenting empirical evidence, and promises they “will not spread half-truths or mischaracterizations about substitute materials.”
Unfortunately, DIPRA’s actions don’t match their rhetoric. In their continued war on PVC, DIPRA and its representatives rely heavily on claims made in a discredited academic study that’s notable only for its misattribution and inaccuracy. Worse, they ignore the pleas of scientists demanding they correct the record.
Some background: A 2016 DIPRA funded study at the University of Michigan titled “A Framework to Evaluate the Life Cycle Costs and Environmental Impacts of Water Pipelines” stated that the life cycle of PVC pipe was 41 to 60 years, citing an earlier study done at Utah State University by Steven Folkman. The only problem is that Mr. Folkman made no such statement in his 2012 report, “Water Main Break Rates in the USA and Canada: A Comprehensive Study, April 2012.” In a letter written to the authors of the DIPRA-UMI study Mr. Folkman writes:
“[Your study] references a paper I did in 2012 on ‘Water Main Break Rates in the USA and Canada’ and claim[s] that I stated that the expected life of PVC pipe is 41-60 years. There is no such statement in that paper. …”
Dr. Folkman’s letter also points out that the DIPRA-UMI report also ignores a plethora of studies showing PVC pipe’s life expectancy to be longer than 100 years:
“The paper titled ‘Validation of the Long Life of PVC Pipes’ documents testing done at Utah State University and also reviews papers from 15 other authors from around the world. They all conclude that a properly design and installed PVC pipe will have an expected life in excess of 100 years.”
Study after study confirms Folkman’s actual conclusion. PVC pipe is a safe, durable solution for water system management. An organization committed to being forthright and factual about the marketplace would listen to Folkman and correct the record. But DIPRA seems unwilling to live up to its purported ideals. So unwilling, in fact, that despite Mr. Folkman’s best efforts to get them to correct the record, they continue to cite the UMI paper that rests on claims he never made. DIPRA referenced it recently, in its “Fact or Fiction” post, that laughably commits to using research that was “fair and factual,” and avoids “half-truths” and “mischaracterizations.”
DIPRA’s failure to correct the record is both dishonest and irresponsible. It’s important that communities have all the information necessary to make informed decisions about critical water infrastructure. Clean, clear water is something that millions of Americans take for granted, and that should always be the case. DIPRA’s misinformation campaign only further complicates what is often a difficult process. An organization that claims to be committed to separating “fact from fiction” for the public good should know better.