CPVC Gains Approval For California Potable Water Use
The California Building Standards Commission Jan. 31 approved a final environmental impact report prepared by the state's Housing and Community Development Department and put its stamp of approval on the unrestricted use of chlorinated polyvinyl chloride pipe for hot and cold potable water distribution in houses, apartments, and hotels/motels anywhere in the state of California.
CPVC has been approved for limited use under the state's plumbing code, restricted to use in areas where soil or water conditions caused premature failure of copper pipe and to use in buildings no taller than two stories. The new approval ends 25 years of legal, political and environmental wrangling.
"After so many years of needless restrictions, we are truly gratified that authorities in California have finally agreed with their colleagues in 49 other states in recognizing the benefits of plastic pipe for hot and cold water plumbing in buildings," said Dick Church, executive director of the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Association, a Glen Ellyn, Ill.-based association of companies primarily engaged in the manufacture of plastic pipe and fittings for plumbing and piping applications.
"Once CPVC is approved in the California Code, the municipalities are obligated to adopt the state code," Church said, noting current market share for CPVC pipe in the state is hovering around 13 percent. "So, the issue is really whether contractors, builders, and building owners-all those who influence the buying decision-want it. The EIR from the state seems to feel the market share for CPVC in the state will grow to over 30 percent."
The real winners in the situation, Church said, are consumers and builders, who now have an alternative to traditional copper pipe: "What has always been ironic to us is that CPVC could only be used in areas where copper pipe failed because of aggressive water or soil conditions," he said. "Shouldn't its ability to perform in the toughest conditions allow it be used in normal conditions? Apparently, that will now be the case, a great victory for consumers."
PPFA said work on an environmental impact report began in 1982, shortly after the International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials added CPVC to its Uniform Plumbing Code. Work stopped in the late 1980's when California authorities decided an EIR was not necessary, but resumed again nearly 10 years later as a result of litigation.