Plumbing Manufacturers International has issued a position statement that advocates restoration of the U.S. underground water infrastructure to ensure the safety and sustainability of the nation’s drinking water.

To kick off the advocacy effort, PMI hosted a panel discussion for members and media. Moderated by Lenora Campos, Ph.D., senior manager, public relations, TOTO USA, the panel included individuals from among some of the organizations that will be partnering with PMI in the advocacy effort: Mary Ann Dickinson, president and CEO, Alliance for Water Efficiency; Abigail Gardner, communications director, Value of Water Coalition and U.S. Water Alliance; Catherine O’Connor, director of engineering, Metropolitan (Chicago) Water Reclamation District; Darren T. Olson, senior water resources project manager, Christopher B. Burke Engineering, Ltd., representing the American Society of Civil Engineers; and Rob Zimmerman, director of marketing, projects, specifications and sustainability, Kohler Co.

The Uni-Bell PVC Pipe Association reports 850 water main breaks a day, while the U.S. Geological Survey estimates more than 1.7 trillion gal. of treated water are lost to leaks annually, with 16% of treated water never reaching the tap, PMI CEO and Executive Director Barbara Higgens said. According to PMI’s Google survey of 1,000 U.S. residents of all ages conducted in July, 64% of respondents identify drinking water safety as a concern related to an aging underground water infrastructure, and 32% are concerned that public officials fail to address water-related issues.

PMI is planning further discussion of issues relating to water infrastructure and efficiency at the PMI Annual Conference, Oct. 24-27 in Rosemont, Ill.