We learned recently that representatives at the Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association (DIPRA) have been contacting municipalities requesting rare pictures of broken PVC pipe.

Of course, it’s certainly possible DIPRA might be looking for these images to study why PVC pipe breaks are so uncommon. DIPRA is fully aware of the facts that prove PVC pipe’s unmatched durability in the installed environment, including extreme weather conditions. So it’s within the realm of possibility that DIPRA might be searching for these pictures to determine ways ductile iron pipe might emulate its performance in this regard. 

But our guess is that DIPRA will likely use them to do what it does best – distort the facts and continue to deceive the public about our material.

Here’s what DIPRA won’t tell you, if its representatives are able to find the pictures they’re desperately seeking, to further mislead the public about PVC pipe:

  • PVC pipe breaks are incredibly rare. DIPRA predictably won’t disclose that in the unusual instance when such breaks occur, it often has nothing to do with the integrity of the pipe itself. Improper installation is the leading cause. DIPRA doesn’t want you to know this, of course, because they want to mislead you to think the material is somehow inherently flawed. So we’ll make sure you have the facts. 
  • PVC pipe has twice the projected lifespan of ductile iron pipe. It is a non-corrosive material, unlike iron pipe, and PVC pipe has the lowest water main break rate of all pipe materials in North America.
  •  PVC pipe can withstand extreme temperatures.  Remember that time last winter when you were caught in horrible traffic, and late for work, because a water main broke in your area? Wasn’t that fun? Odds are that was an iron pipe that failed. Studies show PVC pipes offer a high degree of resilience in freezing conditions and even after 25 years, meet all new pipe requirements.
  • PVC pipe has a lower carbon footprint than ductile iron pipe, too.  PVC pipe is lighter to transport, requires less heavy machinery to install – and its longer lifespan means fewer repairs or replacements, resulting in lower carbon emissions.

Now, if DIPRA really wants to have an informed debate about the durability of pipe materials today, it might care to look at iron pipe failures.  Iron pipes have some of the highest break rates in North America, according to a study by the Buried Structures Laboratory at Utah State University. Not only that, but PVC has the lowest break rate of any pipe tested.


It’s always a safe bet that DIPRA won’t convey an accurate view of PVC pipe. We don’t expect the organization will ever acknowledge that PVC pipe is indeed the stronger, more affordable, more durable, and more eco-friendly, material option today.

But what is likely to happen is that DIPRA will continue to use discredited studies to distort the facts about PVC pipe. And it will do everything it can to try and hold on to iron pipe’s failing monopoly, as it attempts to block states from being allowed to even consider PVC pipe as a replacement material – which will only drive up costs for U.S. taxpayers.

But we will be there, every step of the way, to call DIPRA out – and ensure the facts about PVC pipe prevail.