We’ve written extensively here at Vinyl Verified about the Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association’s (DIPRA) years-long misinformation campaign to deceive the public about PVC pipe. We thought we’d take a look back at the iron pipe industry, and the many ways it’s distorted the facts to protect its failing monopoly, and line its pockets at the expense of American taxpayers.
1. DIPRA represents some of the oldest iron pipe manufacturers in the country. About a hundred years ago, the iron pipe industry produced one of the few materials that could deliver water underground. But that’s not the case anymore.
2. America’s infrastructure is deteriorating, and the vast majority of pipe material that’s crumbling underground today is made of cast iron.
3. But cast iron is too heavy (and too expensive) to use today. So the iron pipe industry had to figure out another solution.
4. So DIPRA’s members started producing “ductile iron pipe,” because it’s cheaper to manufacture and transport. DIPRA desperately wants the public to believe ductile iron pipe is the toughest material on the market today. But that’s not true. …
5. Ductile iron pipe’s walls are considerably thinner than cast iron. And it requires a cement liner, which can crack over time.
6. Ductile iron pipe must be wrapped with an external plastic liner, too. (DIPRA doesn’t talk much about that. …)
7. And like cast iron pipe, ductile iron pipe is prone to corrosion, which is one of the main reasons our nation’s underground pipe infrastructure is crumbling.
8. But for the past hundred years, the iron pipe industry has grown accustomed to being the only game in town.
9. Fortunately, material innovations have taken place over the past few decades that no longer limit taxpayers to just one option anymore.
10. One such product is PVC pipe, which has become the material of choice for a growing list of municipalities across America in replacing their old corroding iron pipes.
11. PVC pipe lasts twice as long as ductile iron pipe. It’s more durable and affordable, too.
12. But DIPRA’s members don’t like other materials competing with them. So DIPRA has embarked on a distortion campaign to mislead the public about PVC pipe. The group even funded a flawed study that misquoted a notable scientist regarding PVC pipe’s longevity. And when those errors were pointed out to DIPRA, the group not only didn’t correct the study – they kept on promoting it.
13. What’s more, DIPRA is trying to make iron pipe the ONLY material available to select municipalities. They’ve sent letters, like this one, pressuring mayors across the country to block open competition and exclude PVC pipe from the material decision table.
14. DIPRA doesn’t want its members to compete fairly with PVC pipe, because they know it will loosen the iron pipe industry’s grip over the marketplace.
15. But even kids know that fair competition benefits consumers -- because it lowers prices and fuels innovation.
16. And the facts show that when open competition for water pipe materials occurs, municipalities can save approximately 30 to 50 percent even when iron pipe is the selected material.
17. Because that’s what open competition does. It benefits everyone (except the iron pipe industry).
18. Open competition also allows city engineers to have complete authority to make their own material choices.
19. But DIPRA is working hard to stifle competition because it doesn’t serve the interests of iron pipe manufacturers. The iron pipe industry wants total command over the market, where it can charge cities whatever they please – and force Americans to pay thousands more for an inferior material that lasts roughly half as long as PVC pipe.
20. Burton, MI found that its installed ductile iron pipe lasted only 15 years. So Burton’s mayor opted to replace its pipes with PVC pipe. And now the city has clean, reliable water service at a fraction of the cost.
21. And more cities around the nation are doing the same.
These are the facts. And we will continue to tell them, so that the public understands what the iron pipe industry is doing to put its own interests above those of hard working American taxpayers.