By Maury D. Gaston, manager of Marketing Services for AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe and AMERICAN SpiralWeld Pipe
World Water Day is March 22. In the context of today’s news, speaking about clean water and public health is more topical than usual. At the turn of the previous century, only 120 years ago, the time of my grandfather’s birth, most people got their water from a well and used an outhouse. These were often near one another, contributing to the spread of disease.
At about the same time, the industrial revolution was in full force and thousands were flocking to cities for manufacturing jobs. Birmingham is known as The Magic City because her early years were so robust the city grew “like magic.”
The need for clean and sanitary public water and wastewater systems was the genesis of the cast iron pipe industry in Birmingham. The presence of iron ore, coal, and limestone within our region made north central Alabama an ideal location. Cast iron pipe manufactured in Alabama has built public water systems and ensured public health all across America and even around the world. It’s not at all a stretch to say that clean water is the greatest advancement in public health in the history of mankind. I’m proud and grateful to have spent my career in such a noble and beneficial industry.
Today, modern ductile iron pipe is made in Birmingham, and steel used for water pipe and construction of water facilities is manufactured across Alabama. Alabama’s iron and steel industry directly employs 14,900 manufacturing jobs and 76,388 indirect jobs providing a multi-billion dollar payroll and tax base.
So as you wash your hands with soap and water each hour, think of ductile iron and steel water pipe and the iron and steel industry here that manufactures it.