CPVC piping will be allowed as an alternative to copper in California by Jan. 3 when newly elected Gov. Gray Davis takes office, industry sources told PM.

Gov. Pete Wilson (R) was a strong supporter of CPVC in California. Davis, the former Democratic Lt. Gov., is expected to oppose CPVC, which is why insiders have maneuvered to gain quick approval.

The day after the Nov. 3 election, wheels continued in motion to assure chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) will be allowed into the state building code. CPVC is currently not allowed to be installed in new residential units in California. Copper is the only material currently allowed by the state building code. The building code will be amended to say: "CPVC water pipe and tubing may be used for hot and cold water distribution systems with a building."

More than 2,000 pages of comments were submitted to California’s Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD) on the Environmental Impact Report (EIR), but CPVC was still recommended for residential use.

"This case wouldn’t be as successful if it wasn’t so well documented by the public," said Debbie Neale, government relations consultant for BFGoodrich. "We would have a much easier time working with a Republican governor, but we can work with Davis."

Davis won’t get a say in the code addition if it is completed by the time he takes office. He will, however, be able to appoint a new building commissioner, who will have similar political views.

BFGoodrich, the main manufacturer of CPVC piping, has been aggressively pursuing California legislation because its product will be in high demand in several jurisdictions. Areas with low pH levels throughout California continuously cause pitting in copper piping. CPVC piping does not corrode or pit in the presence of aggressive watery.

Copper piping has been an industry standard for more than 70 years. CPVC is currently used in every other state and all industrialized countries worldwide.

A legal battle has been brewing in California since 1995, when the Baca Bill was passed to temporarily allow CPVC into jurisdictions that applied for approval. Since the Baca Bill expired Dec. 31, 1997 contractors wanting to install CPVC in homes had to apply on a case-by-case basis. The Miller Bill, a follow-up to the Baca Bill, was defeated in May 1997 in California’s Finance Committee. It would have permanently enabled homeowners to choose CPVC piping as an alternative to copper without added paperwork.

Though it could happen, it’s unlikely a bill would be introduced to outlaw CPVC in the building code when California’s state legislature heads back to work in 1999.

Industry insiders told PM in September 1997 that the legal battle was being dragged out because the California Pipe Trades Union wanted to protect its turf. CPVC can be easily installed by non-union workers, which translates into less hours and pay for union workers.