Written by Maury D. Gaston, Marketing Services Manager with AMERICAN Ductile Iron Pipe and AMERICAN SpiralWeld Pipe
This is Drinking Water Week, a week that highlights the essential role of drinking water in our society and economy. Given the current environment, the dependability of our public water supply is most likely even more appreciated than in years past. But how did we get here?
Municipal water systems are a more recent development than many realize. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, workers and their families moved from rural areas, and cities grew to support the factories driving America’s Industrial Revolution. Many drew their water from a well in the backyard and used a nearby outhouse in the same backyard. Waterborne disease was common, and it was not unusual for cities to lose tens of thousands to fevers and other water-borne diseases, especially in hot summers. Visionary leaders in various locations across the country saw the need 120 to 150 years ago, and this grew into our modern-day municipal water systems.
As a result, clean water is the greatest advancement in public health in the history of the world. We see clean water ministries and initiatives around the world today and they are worthy of our support. In the U.S., we take for granted that when we turn on the tap we have clean and pure water that is safe to drink, cook with and bathe in. The price we pay for this precious and necessary resource is low compared to the value it brings to our daily lives, and it remains much less costly than many of our other monthly expenses.
When these municipal water systems were built, options were few, and cast iron was the pipe material of choice. In fact, cast iron was the first water pipe material to have a design and manufacturing standard, and that was 100 years ago. Many materials have since then come and most have gone, but today’s modern ductile iron pipe and fittings continue to set the standard for safety, health, durability, sustainability, and resiliency. Ductile iron pipe and fittings are made from recycled iron and steel, requires less energy to operate and use, lasts longer and has greater life-cycle value than seemingly glitzier alternatives. Other pipe materials such as lead, asbestos-cement and PVC had their day in the sun, but iron and steel pipe remain sure and steady as the standard for quality municipal water system construction.
Iron and Steel Pipe: It’s what America is built on.