The citizens of Columbus and all of Ohio should demand clean, safe water, at an affordable price.  A bill pending in the Ohio legislature will help establish the framework to do just that, but opponents from the iron pipe industry and their surrogates are working feverishly to undercut the interests of the good citizens of The Buckeye State.

Such action is reminiscent of what has occurred over the years in other states, including Michigan, which contributed to the ongoing catastrophe in Flint.  Ohioans deserves better!

Delivering water, safely and affordably, from one location to another, is what PVC pipe does best.  

But carrying water – for the metallic pipe industry?  That’s something the American Council of Engineering Companies of Ohio (ACECO) might know a thing-or-two about.

ACECO’s Donald Mader penned this Columbus Dispatch essay blindly advancing the positions of the metallic pipe industry. In it, he attacks a pending bill in the Ohio legislature which would open markets and offer local officials access to materials beyond metallic pipe to address the region’s deteriorating water infrastructure.

Mr. Mader dismisses the bill on the grounds that the PVC pipe industry is trying to “force their product into the public works marketplace and gain a competitive advantage over other pipe producers.”   

But as Mr. Mader no doubt knows, the metallic pipe industry today has a 100% competitive advantage over other pipe materials available to local officials in Ohio. Groups, such as Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association (DIPRA), have fought aggressively to block states from accessing PVC pipe – despite its proven durability and affordability – to protect its members’ monopoly.

Leading readers to rightly question:  If Mr. Mader truly believes in competitive balance, why does he support the metallic pipe industry’s exclusionary foothold in Ohio, and oppose other cost-efficient materials, like PVC pipe, from entering the market – that would save taxpayers money?

Local officials would not be “forced” or “obligated” to use one material over another under the proposed legislation, as Mr. Mader deceives readers to believe.  The bill would simply grant materials other than metallic pipe a seat at the table, and level the playing field for other manufacturers.

And his misguided thesis assumes city engineers are somehow incapable of knowing what materials work best in certain applications. It suggests these engineers are unable to make the right choices themselves. It offends the intellect and expertise of these highly skilled and trained professionals, who are well informed on material specifications – and should be allowed to make their own decisions. 

Mr. Mader wants to keep us in the past – where innovations in durable, lead-free PVC pipe are denied the opportunity to help states confront their dilapidating, corroding, lead and metallic pipe water systems. 

But history isn’t on his side. Innovation often has a funny way of kicking antiquated technology to the curb. And as PVC pipe continues to expand its reach and deliver safe drinking water throughout America, corrosive metallic pipe may one day find itself encountering the same fate as the rotary phone and the horse drawn carriage.

Ohio deserves the right to select the best pipe for the application, and city water engineers should be allowed to consider all piping materials as they work to develop the most effective water infrastructure for their communities.

Richard Doyle
President & CEO
The Vinyl Insitute