The California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors sponsored a Drinking Water Symposium earlier this year to draw more attention to how changes in water disinfection are causing a growing number of copper water systems to fail.

Master of ceremonies Tom Price, a former plumber and board member of one of the CALPASC chapters, provided examples of how changes to water chemistry in California have triggered construction defect lawsuits and, as a result, forced trade contractors out of business.

Nationally recognized water expert Marc Edwards, Ph.D., a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Polytechnic Institute, explained what he says has caused the aggresive water conditions in some parts of the country -- the EPA's regulations requiring water treatment plants to switch from chlorine to chloramines in the disinfection process. The net effect of his research has shown increased levels of copper in the water.

Larry Sparks, Ph.D., senior scientist of the Roberts Laboratory for Neurodegenerative Research at the Sun Health Research Institute, related his findings on the potential health concerns once copper leaches into potable water. His research links copper in water to increased memory problems, such as Alzheimer's, and coronary artery disease.

California is the only state that has not approved CPVC or PEX for use in residential construction.