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ACEC Ohio urges legislators to reject PVC pipe bill

Legislation that would prohibit local governments from exercising a preference for the type of pipe that is used in water and wastewater projects infringes on the judgment of the professional engineer and should be rejected, ACEC Ohio told state lawmakers last week.

In testimony before the Ohio House Energy & Natural Resources Committee on May 24, ACEC Ohio Executive Director Don Mader asked the committee to reject House Bill 214, which provides that "a public authority shall not prefer one type of suitable piping material over another in construction developing, maintaining, rebuilding, improving, repairing, or operating a water, waste water or storm water project . . . ."

This bill is similar to one rejected by the General Assembly two years ago and represents part of a very public nationwide campaign by the PVC pipe manufacturers to increase the use of their product on public works projects.

Mader told the committee, that "there is only one entity that should decide the type of pipe that will be used on a public water or wastewater projects – the independent professional engineer of record who puts his or her license and livelihood on the line when designing this critical public infrastructure."

He disputed claims by PVC pipe manufacturers that engineers are ignorant of the benefits of PVC pipe and averse to specifying newer construction materials.

"I can assure you that my engineering firms know all about the relative merits and shortcomings of PVC pipe. In fact they know about the relative merits and shortcomings of PVC pipe, and concrete pipe and iron ductile pipe and clay pipe, because that’s their professional obligation.

"My engineering companies specify the use of PVC pipe on projects every day, all over the state – when, and only when, it is appropriate for the project at hand," he said.

Proponents of the bill claim that cities around Ohio unjustly exclude PVC pipe from use in their projects, but Mader told the committee "it is the obligation of the PVC pipe industry to sit down with the engineering staffs of these municipalities and demonstrate the merits of their product."

"Proponents of this bill would have you believe that local governments willingly pay thousands of dollars more for piping material on their projects just because they have some unjustifiable bias against PVC pipe. Nothing could be further from the truth," he said.

Well over two dozen other witnesses representing municipalities and counties, engineering organizations, unions, and manufacturers of competing types of pipe testified or submitted testimony in opposition to the bill, which has been introduced for two straight legislative sessions by Rep. Andy Thompson (R-Marietta).

Since legislators have left Columbus for the summer, there will be no action on this bill anytime soon, but proponents are expected to continue their campaign to pass the bill when the General Assembly reconvenes this fall.



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