About the Industry

The global water and wastewater pipes market is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, as urban populations continue to rise and infrastructure investments increase.1 Ductile iron pipe specifically has been recognized across the globe for its strength, durability, and reliability.  

With the growth of the water and wastewater pipes market, the Ductile iron pipe industry is also projected to continue its future growth as demand continues for smart, sustainable products that are well-situated to handle a variety of water infrastructure needs. 

The Ductile Iron Pipe Research Association (DIPRA) includes support from all manufacturers of Ductile iron pipe in North America.2 These organizations include American Ductile Iron Pipe, Canada Pipe Company LTD, McWane Ductile, and U.S. Pipe.  

While there are alternatives to Ductile iron pipe, including PVC, HDPE, steel, and BCCP, Ductile iron pipe has proven to be the best answer for America’s water infrastructure needs.3 For example, compared to HDPE pipe, Ductile iron has 24 times the tensile strength. Similarly, compared to PVC, Ductile iron is stronger, easier to tap, and requires less support. Compared to steel, Ductile iron has better corrosion control and pipe wall thickness. Overall, compared to industry competitors, Ductile iron pipe’s strength, resilience, sustainability and long-term value have proven itself across a broad range of soil conditions, environments and infrastructure demands.  The Ductile iron pipe industry has seen immense growth due to its emphasis on sustainability. Ductile iron pipes are entirely recyclable and contain at least 90 percent recycled content. Their production also requires less energy and less greenhouse gas. Town engineers nationwide, including Kevin Hardiman from Tewksbury, MA, recognize that these are “strong, durable pipes that deliver clean drinking water for a century.”4 

The drinking water and wastewater pipe industry is also seeing new demand in the industrial sector. Projects put on hold during the COVID-19 pandemic have restarted, in addition to new projects.5 The industry is entering a period of growth, and Ductile iron pipe is leading the way.

1 https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2022/03/10/2401269/0/en/Water-and-Wastewater-Pipes-Market-is-anticipated-to-witness-a-growth-rate-of-around-6-5-over-the-decade-2022-2032.html

2 https://dipra.org/about-dipra/member-companies

3 https://dipra.org/about-ductile-iron-pipe/compare-options

4 https://dipra.org/about-ductile-iron-pipe/sustainability

5 https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2022/03/10/2401269/0/en/Water-and-Wastewater-Pipes-Market-is-anticipated-to-witness-a-growth-rate-of-around-6-5-over-the-decade-2022-2032.html

Need for Increased Funding

The economic loss associated with poor water pipe infrastructure is enormous. According to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), over two trillion gallons of treated drinking water are wasted annually due to water main breaks. Moreover, companies lose an average of $230 per employee for every day of water service disruption. On the national level, that’s equivalent to a loss of approximately $43.5 billion in sales and $22.5 billion in GDP.6

Water is also vital for the health and safety of our communities. The industries we depend on—from our schools to our hospitals and fire departments—require thousands of gallons of water per day, per person.7 Reliable water pipes are necessary for our most essential services to operate.  

In 2021, ASCE gave our nation’s water infrastructure a C-, reflecting “mediocre” conditions with “significant deficiencies.”8 This is largely because funding for our water infrastructure has not kept up with demand in the past several decades.   Investment in Ductile iron pipe is necessary not only to meet daily demand, but also to build resilience in the face of unexpected events. Ductile iron pipe has the strength to withstand natural disasters, from hurricanes to wildfires to earthquakes.9 It stands out in comparison to its competitors, such as plastic pipes, especially in the event of a wildfire. Ensuring that pipes won’t melt is essential to protecting against dangerous chemicals and maintaining a secure water supply.10  It is important that local, state, and federal leaders invest in both the immediate and long-term needs of water and wastewater. Much of the U.S.’s water pipe system is upwards of 45 years old.11 While the Drinking Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Act of 2021 sets aside $55 billion for water and wastewater system improvements, more investment is needed.12 

The recently passed Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes welcome investment for pipes. However, where this money goes is most important.13 We must ensure that these investments are put in the hands of community members who can work with these projects up close and ensure that the needs of the people are met.

6 https://assets.ctfassets.net/e4roza01bro8/4VIdxN0fTehmwd9dlIWFV5/ba1611d03b1dfc8af3b973ec94fb9943/12.7.20_Municipalities_Cost_of_Failure_infographic_8.5x14_FINAL.pdf

7 https://assets.ctfassets.net/e4roza01bro8/4VIdxN0fTehmwd9dlIWFV5/ba1611d03b1dfc8af3b973ec94fb9943/12.7.20_Municipalities_Cost_of_Failure_infographic_8.5x14_FINAL.pdf

8 https://dipra.org/advocacy/legislative-and-regulatory-affairs

9 https://dipra.org/about-ductile-iron-pipe/resilience

10 https://www.steamboatpilot.com/opinion/opinion-wildfires-threaten-our-water-supply-plastics-make-the-threat-worse/

11 https://dipra.org/advocacy

12 https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/statements-releases/2021/08/02/updated-fact-sheet-bipartisan-infrastructure-investment-and-jobs-act/

13 https://dipra.org/news/news-and-commentary/as-drinking-water-infrastructure-funding-flows-keep-control-in-local-hands

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