Plumbing Manufacturers International has issued a position statement that advocates restoration of the U.S. underground water infrastructure to ensure the safety and sustainability of the nation’s drinking water.

“PMI and its members have always done their part,” CEO and Executive Director Barbara C. Higgens said. She cited PMI’s support of the WaterSense program and its leadership in the passage of the bipartisan Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. “Our products – toilets, showerheads and faucets – are used at the end-point of the water system and rely on a sustainable supply of clean water. That’s what we’re going to work with our partners and allies to achieve now – a future of clean, safe and plentiful water.”

During a meeting with PMI members and media Aug. 10 in Rolling Meadows, Ill., Higgens cited the American Society of Civil Engineers’ “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure,” which gives the U.S. drinking water and wastewater systems D grades. Further, ASCE’s “Failure to Act: Closing the Infrastructure Investment Gap for America’s Economic Future” states only 30% of U.S. water and wastewater infrastructure needs between 2016 and 2025 are funded, leaving an investment gap of $105 billion.

The Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association reports 850 water-main breaks a day, Higgens said, while the U.S. Geological Survey estimates more than 1.7 trillion gal. of treated water are lost to leaks annually, with 16% of treated water never reaching the tap.

According to PMI’s Google survey of 1,000 U.S. residents of all ages conducted in July, 64% of respondents identify drinking water safety as a concern related to an aging underground water infrastructure, and 32% are concerned that public officials fail to address water-related issues.

To kick off its advocacy effort, PMI hosted a panel discussion moderated by Lenora Campos, senior manager, public relations, TOTO USA. The panel included:

  • Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO, Alliance for Water Efficiency;

  • Abigail Gardner, communications director, Value of Water Coalition and U.S. Water Alliance;

  • Catherine O’Connor, director of engineering, Chicago Metropolitan Water Reclamation District;

  • Darren T. Olson, senior water resources project manager, Christopher B. Burke Engineering., representing the ASCE; and

  • Rob Zimmerman, director/marketing, projects, specifications and sustainability, Kohler Co.

“To reach our goal of clean, safe and plentiful water, we’re going to have to educate policymakers and the general public about the importance of a restored national water infrastructure and water-efficient plumbing products,” Higgens said. “We’re going to have to convince everyone that the investment is worth it.”

PMI is planning further discussion of issues relating to water infrastructure and efficiency at the PMI Annual Conference, Oct. 24-27 in Rosemont, Ill.