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Unleashing Innovation to Address Aging Water Infrastructure

Scott Jensen

Every four years the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) issues grades fifteen infrastructure categories. On the 2017 Infrastructure Report Card, ASCE gave the nation’s drinking water infrastructure a “D”, with over 6 billion gallons of treated water being lost every day. With an estimated $1 trillion needed to address this growing problem, it is crucial that a variety of innovative materials are allowed to be considered during the procurement process in order to make the most of the dollars spent on water and sewer infrastructure.

There are many cities, counties, and municipalities which have restrictive, closed bidding processes which only allow for specific types of materials, hampering competition and resulting in missed cost savings to taxpayers. Open competition allows for engineers to have all available materials that meet performance specifications when selecting materials for water infrastructure projects. This open competition process does not mandate the use of any one material, and leaves the final material selection in the hands of the engineer, even when it may not be the least expensive option.

In the past there have been only a limited number of materials that have been considered through the bidding process. Modern infrastructure challenges may can be best met with modern technology. Chemistry is a proven material which can ensure that governments provide high performing materials at an affordable cost per mile in comparison to other commonly used materials. Plastic pipes such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC) are highly resistant to corrosion leading to a lifespan of more than 100 years, while meeting several organizational standards for durability such as ASTM, AWWA, and NSF.

Open competition can help governments meet the extreme need for updating water and sewer infrastructure. There is an estimated 26% savings when open competition procurement policies, and additional competition drives costs down even when alternative materials are not selected for a project. 

American Chemistry Council

The American Chemistry Council’s mission is to advocate for the people, policy, and products of chemistry that make the United States the global leader in innovation and manufacturing. To achieve this, we: Champion science-based policy solutions across all levels of government; Drive continuous performance improvement to protect employees and communities through Responsible Care®; Foster the development of sustainability practices throughout ACC member companies; and Communicate authentically with communities about challenges and solutions for a safer, healthier and more sustainable way of life. Our vision is a world made better by chemistry, where people live happier, healthier, and more prosperous lives, safely and sustainably—for generations to come.

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