National Water Infrastructure

Affirmed August 2017, Updated January 2021

PMI Urges Restoration of the National Water Infrastructure

Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) – the international industry association representing the manufacturers of 90% of the plumbing products sold in North America – advocates the restoration of the United States’ underground water infrastructure to reduce risks to safe, sustainable drinking water and promote the efficient use of water. This solution will end catastrophic leakage and public safety hazards resulting from the current, aging infrastructure.

The American Society of Civil Engineers’ (ASCE) gave the U.S. drinking water system a D grade and the U.S. wastewater system a D+ grade  on its most recent Report Card for America’s Infrastructure. Among the nation’s most significant challenges are 850 water main breaks a day1 and more than 1.7 trillion gallons of treated water lost to leaks annually, with 16 percent of treated water never reaching the tap.2 The deterioration of the nation’s aging underground water infrastructure also has an adverse effect on public health and safety, as seen most dramatically in Flint, Mich., as well as in other cities and town across the nation.

PMI and Its Members Are Doing Their Part

PMI is committed to its vision of “Safe, responsible plumbing. Always.” As a key component in the overall water system, PMI members’ products maximize the efficient use of water. The next step to realizing PMI’s vision is to contribute our members’ expertise and thought leadership toward creating a safe, efficient and expanded underground water infrastructure that will meet the needs of all Americans, even those living in regions affected by water shortages.

PMI member products are highly regulated under federal law and product performance codes. These products are end-point devices such as toilets, showerheads and faucets that convey water within homes and commercial properties. These products comprise only a small part of the water delivery system, are separate from the underlying infrastructure, and rely on a sustainable supply of clean water to meet consumers’ needs. PMI advocates for regulations that will help to ensure safe water supplies and has close working relationships with water districts and associations dedicated to water safety. PMI was a leader in the development and passage of the bipartisan Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, which took effect in 2014 and made lead reduction requirements uniform nationwide.

PMI also partners with the Environmental Protection Agency’s WaterSense program, which was established in 2006 to certify and promote the use of water-efficient plumbing products. Building upon the awareness created by the WaterSense program, PMI members remain committed to the efficient use of water and continue to make great strides through the production of WaterSense-labeled products. However, there is much room for improvement in American water efficiency. A 2019 U.S. WaterSense Market Penetration Report commissioned by PMI and conducted by GMP Research estimated that 16.8% of tank-type toilets installed nationwide meet WaterSense standards. WaterSense bathroom sink faucets have 40.1% market share and showerheads 45.4%. WaterSense products are at least 20 percent more water efficient than products meeting the federal standard.

Sources: 1. Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association; 2. U.S. Geological Survey