Battle over water pipes stalled in Lansing

Feb 17, 2018

Credit steve carmody / Michigan Radio

A bill stalled in the Michigan state Senate is the latest skirmish in a national fight over who will supply water pipes to cities.

State Senator Rick Jones says his bill is about giving communities choice when it comes to picking pipes for public works projects. 

Jones says plastic pipes are just as good and cheaper than the iron and steel pipes that are the standard.

“It’s a problem of old laws and old rules that don’t allow engineers to use what’s best for the situation,” says Jones.

But the Michigan section of the American Water Works Association opposes Jones’ bill. John Willemin is the past chairman of the Michigan Section of the American Water Works Association.   He says the bill's intent to open up the market to plastic pipes is a problem.

“We feel that that is a restriction that’s unnecessary,” says Willemin, “And in fact could be detrimental for sustainability of the system.”

The plastic pipe industry has pushed similar bills in 11 other states, and failed.