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Senator Duckworth and Congressman Cartwright Reintroduce Bill to Modernize Our Aging Water Infrastructure | U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth of Illinois

March 03, 2020

[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Congressman Matt Cartwright (D-PA-08) today reintroduced legislation to bring our water infrastructure into the 21st century by investing in critical research to make our water infrastructure systems safer, more reliable and more efficient. The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) Plumbing Research Act would re-establish a laboratory within the National Institute of Standards and Technology to promote innovative technologies that improve public safety, system reliability and water efficiency in modern homes and businesses. Modern plumbing codes are based on antiquated standards that fail to reflect technological advancements and can lead to serious health risks such as Legionnaires’ disease.

“It’s 2020, but our nation’s water infrastructure still seems like it’s from the 1930s,” said Senator Duckworth. Nationwide, nearly century-old premise plumbing infrastructure design and construction standards are both inefficient, and a risk to our public health. The NIST Plumbing Research Act would support research that helps lay the groundwork for an overhaul of our water infrastructure systems that finally brings them into the 21st century.”

“Americans benefit from modern water fixtures and appliances like water-saving shower heads and efficient washing machines, but the pipes that currently carry water to them are based on decades-old designs. To really improve water efficiency, we need to solve the other half of the puzzle,” said Rep. Cartwright. “This bill is a win-win-win: consumers will save money thanks to fewer plumbing repairs, lessen their exposure to health risks, and it will promote innovation in the plumbing industry.”

Plumbing infrastructure has a direct impact on construction costs, water usage and public health and safety. The failure to develop modern plumbing codes based on current standards and research has real consequences for families whose unnecessarily large pipes result in using stagnant water that is at greater risk for breeding harmful water-borne diseases, including Legionnaires’ disease. The NIST Plumbing Research Act would address this by directing NIST to re-establish a federal laboratory to conduct research of “premise plumbing” to promote new and innovative technologies that improve public safety, system reliability and water efficiency in modern homes and businesses. Ultimately, NIST’s research would inform a comprehensive upgrade of U.S. plumbing structure, design and construction standards.

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