FROM THE CHAIRMAN - THOMAS BIGLEY
The Holistic Approach to Plumbing Systems
In my 40 years as a licensed plumber, I have never heard the word holistic in the same sentence with plumbing, but since the pandemic has shed light on the imperfection of our plumbing systems, we are collectively evaluating the engineering and installation of these systems.
The holistic approach in a plumbing system can be defined as reviewing the entire system, not just its parts. During the pandemic much was said about the safe reopening of buildings that were shuttered at the beginning. The consensus back then was to flush the system periodically to ensure that no waterborne pathogens would grow while the water was stagnant. The plumbing industry responded with new technology that automatically flushed the systems, as well as procedures that building maintenance personnel could follow. Water quality is now being analyzed and tested to ensure that the water is safe and does not contain chemicals that are proven to be harmful to the public.
Instead of fixing just the leak, we are now reviewing the entire system — not just the plumbing. From our homes where we live and work, to the office and factories, to the water filtration systems and sewage treatment plants, everything is being reviewed. The transmission of water and air has come under intense scrutiny because of the spread of COVID-19. All of these systems, which typically are invisible, are now in the spotlight because they have an impact on public safety.
This is good for the economy of the plumbing industry. Many plumbing contractors and their employees have been idled by the pandemic’s recession. The remediation work will need to commence quickly if we want our economies to recover to pre-pandemic levels. That means that our plumbing workforce will need to be trained in new technology, installation methods and code modifications. Many plumbers who were only schooled in one aspect of the system must be retrained to know how the entire system works. This is good for the industry. Before the pandemic we were experiencing shortages of skilled labor. Requiring our labor forces to be better trained in the holistic approach to our plumbing systems will benefit our customers, employers and the industry.
The holistic approach of bringing together plumbing engineers, plumbers, contractors, end users and manufacturers from the plumbing industry before, during and after construction will enable us to design and maintain our plumbing infrastructure for the near future.
Don't forget, March 11 is World Plumbing Day. We look forward to seeing how our members promote and celebrate this important day highlighting the role plumbing plays in health and safety.
WPC GENERAL MEETING RECAP
The World Plumbing Council General Meeting, held virtually on Dec. 9, was a great success. There were more than 200 registered attendees from across the globe, including India, the United States, Canada, Norway, Australia, Hong Kong, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Rwanda, Ireland, Brazil, China, Philippines, Jordan, Zambia and Switzerland.
The meeting began with the business portion of the WPC, led by WPC Chairman Thomas Bigley, and included insightful discussion and sharing of how the pandemic was affecting members.
IWSH Managing Director Seán Kearney then gave a presentation on the work the WPC and IWSH have accomplished in 2020, and the plans for 2021.
The World Health Organization (WHO) keynote presentation discussed the global progress on WASH and waste in health care facilities. The presentation underscored the huge gaps in plumbing and water services around the world.
“This (year) has highlighted more than ever that facilities don’t have the basic services to deal with patients, let alone COVID-19 patients” said WASH consultant Arabella Hayter. “There's many facilities that don't have even water supply, so obviously they can't do any of these basic infection prevention control methods that we are talking about that are so important.”
The meeting concluded with a stimulating panel discussion on plumbing system implications related to the COVID-19 pandemic and other diseases, as well as the importance of using science and testing to verify plumbing systems are working properly, both on the water delivery and the sanitation side.
“I know from speaking to designers — especially when we get into really tall or very complex buildings — they’re genuinely worried because they have no way of checking if this has really worked, apart from if they get a phone call and they say ‘This isn't working,’ and you know, it’s disaster at that point,” said Dr. Michael Gormley, speaking on the need for better monitoring of sanitation systems.
Videos of the meeting and presentations may be viewed on the WPC website at www.worldplumbing.org/wpc-general-meeting-2020-recap/.
A special thank-you to our presenters who helped make the meeting a great success!
2021 EMERGING WATER TECHNOLOGY SYMPOSIUM TO BE CONVENED AS VIRTUAL EVENT
The co-conveners of the 2021 Emerging Water Technology Symposium (EWTS) have determined that due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic the event will go forward as a two-day virtual symposium, scheduled for May 11-12. The EWTS was previously scheduled to be convened on those dates as a live, in-person event in San Antonio, TX.
“It’s disappointing that a year after postponing the 2020 EWTS the horrible COVID-19 pandemic prevents us yet again from safely convening the symposium as an in-person event,” said IAPMO Senior Vice President of Training and Credentialing Services Tony Marcello, the event’s lead organizer.
The two-day virtual symposium will provide a combination of timely speaker presentations and panel discussions.
“While it will be difficult to match the excitement of an in-person EWTS, we can promise the virtual symposium will deliver an engaging and timely, although abbreviated, program for attendees,” Marcello said. “We’ll be reaching out to our sponsors, supporting organizations, media partners, presenters and panelists and will announce the virtual program in the near future. The co-conveners remain committed to welcoming attendees to the EWTS in San Antonio in 2022.”
Program and registration details will be available on the EWTS website, www.ewts.org, after March 11.
Co-convened biennially by the American Society of Plumbing Engineers (ASPE), the Alliance for Water Efficiency (AWE), IAPMO and Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), in cooperation with the World Plumbing Council (WPC), the EWTS is designed to provide a portal for the host organizations’ partners in the manufacturing, engineering and trade industries to display and demonstrate their innovative solutions to legislative and regulatory developments that often alter industry landscapes.
For further information, please contact Maria Bazan at (708) 995-3007 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
PLUMBING INDUSTRY ALLIES SUPPORT NATIONAL APPRENTICESHIP ACT OF 2021
Above: UA Apprentice Competition, pre-pandemic
The International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials (IAPMO), the United Association of Journeymen and Apprentices of the Plumbing and Pipe Fitting Industry of the United States, Canada (UA), the Plumbing-Heating-Cooling Contractors — National Association (PHCC), and Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for bipartisan passage of the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 (H.R. 447) on Feb. 5 and strongly encourage the U.S. Senate to approve it as well. The bill seeks to reauthorize the 1937 National Apprenticeship Act, which established the registered apprenticeship system, for the first time since its inception 84 years ago.
Many characteristics today associated with registered apprenticeships — progressive wage increases, mentorship and safety standards — are not part of the 1937 law; they have instead been included in subsequent U.S. Department of Labor regulations. These provisions and more would be codified into the new federal law, as well as expanding apprenticeship programs through authorization of $400 million to $800 million in new grant funding.
Registered Apprenticeships (RAs) are America’s most successful federally authorized workforce development program. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, 94 percent of people who complete RAs are employed upon completion, earning an average starting wage above $70,000 annually. The success of the registered apprenticeship system is a product of the strict quality standards, close engagement with industry, and strong worker protections that the programs are required to uphold. All RAs must combine on-the-job learning with related instruction to provide workers a nationally recognized credential from the Department of Labor (DOL) that they can present to potential employers anywhere in the country.
More than 1,200 apprenticeable occupations now exist, from the traditional construction and military occupations to newer sectors such as information technology, finance, and health care. Yet, according to the most recent data, apprenticeships make up only 0.3 percent of the overall workforce in America.
“Apprenticeships are a proven pathway to well-paying employment,” said IAPMO CEO Dave Viola. “We applaud the U.S. House of Representatives for passing this important piece of legislation and encourage the Senate to quickly pass it as well. We face increasingly complex water and infrastructure challenges in the United States. The registered apprenticeship program is essential to ensuring that our country has the skilled workforce required to meet these challenges. IAPMO is proud to stand with the UA, PHCC-NA and PMI in celebrating this landmark legislation.”
Introduced Jan. 25 by Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-VA), H.R. 447 invests in increasing access to RAs. It codifies and streamlines existing standards that are vital to support RAs and expands the successful RA model to youth apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programs. Based on Education and Labor Committee estimates, passage would create more than 1 million apprenticeship opportunities over the next five years.
“The brothers and sisters of the United Association of Union Plumbers & Pipefitters (UA) are the best trained and most highly skilled craftspeople in the world — and that’s because of our rigorous training standards and the robust investments we make each year in our Registered Apprenticeship program,” said UA General President Mark McManus. “This reauthorization of the National Apprenticeship Act ensures Registered Apprenticeships can reach new industries and that exploitative contractors cannot cut corners. Our members can rest assured that UA apprenticeships will remain the gold standard in the construction industry with the passage of this bill.”
By bringing together industry sector leaders and experts, including employers, industry associations, joint labor-management organizations, labor organizations, education and training providers, credential providers, and apprentices, the bill would establish national frameworks for industry-recognized apprenticeable occupations.
“PHCC, as one of the leaders in apprentice education, has recognized the value of apprentice training throughout its 138-year history and welcomes this legislation that reaffirms and streamlines the Registered Apprentice Program,” said PHCC National President Hunter Botto. “PHCC and the PHCC Educational Foundation will continue their educational efforts utilizing Registered Apprenticeships in furthering their Pledge to America’s Workers goal of preparing 75,000 future industry professionals over the next five years. We are grateful for the introduction of this legislation and urge prompt consideration and support of its passage as a signal that apprenticeship can lead to good jobs, with good pay, and a future for advancement.”
In addition to strengthening and expanding apprenticeship opportunities nationwide, passage would mitigate efforts across many states that threaten to weaken the plumbing industry through delicensing and/or elimination of plumbing boards.
“Plumbing manufacturers provide skilled, good-paying jobs in communities across America, but the shortage of well trained, skilled workers is real,” said PMI CEO Kerry Stackpole. “Our manufacturers produce 90% of all plumbing products sold in the nation. To strengthen America’s manufacturing sector, we need to utilize all the tools and resources available to help us attract and train new talent, including apprenticeships. The expanded opportunities to registered apprenticeships, youth apprenticeships, and pre-apprenticeships made available through the National Apprenticeship Act of 2021 will help close the skilled workers gap and shortage of plumbers, create good-paying jobs in our communities, and help aid in our country’s economic recovery.”
H.R. 447 may be viewed in its entirety HERE.
A REPORT ON THE INDIAN PLUMBING ASSOCIATION’S (IPA) STRIDE TO FIGHT THE COVID-19 CRISIS
Submitted by B. S. A. NARAYAN, WPC Board Member
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a sea change in the way we have dealt with business in the year 2020. We present a synopsis of the IPA’s stride to counter the pandemic from June to December 2020.
Complying with the government of India’s guidelines, the Indian Plumbing Association (IPA) permitted most of its employees to work from home to the fullest extent possible. At the same time, we have tried to resume economic activity. A brief note on the IPA activities is detailed below.
Indian Plumbing Professionals League (IPPL) 2020 – Launching of Virtual format
This year, the fourth edition of IPPL 2020 was launched virtually, which allowed individuals from anywhere in the country to participate in the Premier Plumbing Competition held between Sept. 26 and Nov. 22. This marked a 25% increase in IPPL participants.
IPA has received a lot of praise from across the building fraternity for the way IPPL has intricately planned and conducted the event at the virtual level.
The grand finale was held Dec. 6. The event was presided by WPC Chairman Tom Bigley as chief guest and Tom Palkon, executive vice president of Water Systems for IAPMO R&T, as guest of honor.
The participants received a complimentary IPA Professional membership and learned some of the nuances of plumbing in these sessions.
Visit the IPA website at www.indianplumbing.org/IPPL-2020 for more details on IPPL 2020.
Magazine publication resumes
Indian Plumbing Today (IPT), the official journal of the IPA, resumed its monthly publication in September. The September issue came out with the prominent theme of “Fighting All Odds in COVID period,” comprising a series of articles like Swimming Pool Disinfection Post-COVID, Understanding Coronavirus Exposure for Plumbing Professionals, and IPA COVID-19 Guidelines, to name a few. The issue was widely appreciated by veterans in the Indian plumbing and building industry.
The soft copies of the past three editions are available on the IPA website: www.indianplumbing.org/Indian-Plumbing-Today-IPT
IPA organized various webinars at the national level and a few chapters at the regional level. IPA members and plumbing professionals from across the country participated in huge numbers.
A complete list of webinars along with recordings is available on this webpage: www.indianplumbing.org/Virtual-Technical-Sessions
Social media and emails
IPA continues to circulate information through all social media and email on the precautions plumbing professionals should take during their work.
For updates log in to:
COVID-19 vaccination program In India
New York-based Foreign Affairs Magazine predicted a catastrophe for India, Boston Review called the response “India’s humanitarian disaster,” Scientific American claimed, “India is in denial of COVID-19 crisis,” and BBC declared, “New Delhi is staring at a disaster.”
The pandemic in India has lasted for more than 10 months now. India appears to have gotten a grip over the coronavirus, as the curve has flattened as of January.
India is driving the world’s largest vaccination program. India vaccinated and immunized about 2.4 million people within a week after starting and plans to vaccinate 300 million people throughout India by July 2021.
Slowly but surely, India is stepping into a leadership role and displaying compassion, the kind of which has never been seen before.
India is known as the world’s pharmacy. India is the largest USFDA-approved vaccine manufacturer, with a reputation for top-notch standards. The Serum Institute of India is manufacturing the Oxford/Astrazeneca Covishield vaccine and is looking to produce around 10 million doses of Covishield to cover health line providers, frontline workers, and the most vulnerable people. India is ensuring equitable distribution of vaccines.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, “Today, India is ready to save humanity with two ‘Made in India’ COVID-19 vaccines.”
India is being appreciated and praised globally for its persistent effort.
Bill Gates lauded India and posted, “It’s great to see India’s leadership in scientific innovation and vaccine manufacturing capability as the world works to end the COVID-19 pandemic.”
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus tweeted, “India continues to take decisive action & demonstrate its resolve to end #COVID19 pandemic. As the world’s largest vaccine producer, it is well placed to do so. If we #ACTogether, we can ensure effective & safe vaccines are used to protect the most vulnerable everywhere.
The demand for the Covishield vaccine goes beyond SAARC nations and the subcontinent.
India is not only vaccinating its own, but also nursing neighborhoods back to health by gifting the vaccine to neighboring countries like Bhutan, Maldives, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Mauritius and Seychelles. Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are next on the list.
India’s vaccine diplomacy on the other hand will generate goodwill in the world. India believes in “Vasudhaiva kutumbamkam” meaning “The Whole World is a Family”. (Source : Wion - Gravitas Plus )
PLUMBERS ASSOCIATION OF ZAMBIA (PAZA) PARTNERS WITH ACCESS WATER4 ZAMBIA
Submitted by Moses Chongo, CEO/President, Plumbers Association of Zambia
The partnership between PAZA and Access Water4 Zambia started in 2020 after the International Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Foundation (IWSH) introduced introduced the two organizations. The main reason for the partnership is because of the common value and roles both organizations play for the benefit of vulnerable people in the community, especially in water supply, water sanitation and hygiene.
Water4 is a charitable Christian organization based in Samfya, Luapula, Zambia. Water4 has been working on a strategy with the Accord WASH Alliance members to implement WASH in Health Care Facilities (HCFs) projects in Zambia that will soon take place in four districts, including Samfya. This is due largely to help from the IWSH Foundation to connect Water4 to PAZA. Water4 has identified PAZA as a potential local partner for the installation of plumbing facilities and maintenance of water facilities for sustainability of WASH in HCFs. Three local PAZA members were recently contacted by Water4 to complete some connections and upgrade plumbing facilities at Lusaka Special School, which is now complete and functional. The same team has constructed handwashing stations at two schools as part of the response to COVID19, which is being connected to the purified water system that has been installed in the community.
The Plumbers Association of Zambia, since establishing the Lusaka Wash Academy (LWAC), has been engaged to train 35 plumbers and pump menders in Samfya who will be responsible for all of the activities.
Above: New taps and kitchen sink for the boarding at Kasanka special school.
PAZA SIGNS MOU WITH LUANGUA CHILD DEVELOPMENT AGENCY/CHILDFUND INTERNATIONAL
Submitted by Moses Chongo, CEO/President, Plumbers Association of Zambia
Jan. 13 was another great day for PAZA. The Luangwa Child Development Agency, in partnership with ChildFund International, entered into a skills training project in the Luangwa district. So far, 27 plumbers have been trained and 38 from distinct different skills. The mandate of LCDA is to have communities in which children and youths meet their basic needs such as good sanitation, shelter education and health, and are protected from all forms of harm and abuse. PAZA’s mandate is to provide quality skills training services in water sanitation, plumbing and other skills. Both parties agreed to implement the project for the benefit of the children and the community of Luangwa district and Zambia as a whole.
PAZA will also continue to improve current conditions pertaining to water sanitation and plumbing systems in school, homes, clinics and marketplaces. PAZA has been given the task of increasing the number of learning facilities by providing training, promoting skills development and hygiene, and combating water-related diseases and COVID-19 by improving water reticulation systems in the community.
IS “GOOD” GOOD ENOUGH?
Is “good” good enough when it comes to customer service? As far as The IPG and its supplier Lecico are concerned, the answer is NO!
Many companies underestimate the importance of excellent customer service; great products on their own are not always enough to keep a customer’s loyalty, but outstanding service and customer satisfaction are — both The IPG and Lecico strive to offer just that.
Kevin Oakes, director of sales at The IPG, said: “Only the businesses that find a way to make customer support a core element of their business strategy can thrive under today’s environment. We put The IPG member at the center of what we do — what’s right for them is right for us. We put members first and support them, our mantra is that we are Stronger Together.”
During recent times, The IPG has played its part in supporting its independent plumbing, heating and bathroom store members. For example, during the early days of the pandemic, the common message published across its marketing channels highlighted those member businesses that remained open, advising opening times and the level of service they were providing. It has continued to deliver positive messages to ensure that members’ customers continue to shop in their local area.
Paul Barry (MD) from Four Ashes Plumbing Supplies, an IPG member based in Wolverhampton, commented: “In a marketplace more competitive than ever, and with the challenges facing all independent businesses in the UK, we place great value in our partnership with The IPG. A collaborative approach between the group, its supply network and its members help small businesses like ours to remain at the forefront of the industry and relevant to the communities we serve.”
Customers do not forget companies that make them feel special; word of mouth is always the best recommendation. Without a doubt, a customer-service first approach has a very important role to play in business today.
Antony Thompson, managing director at Lecico Bathrooms, said, “Our ambition is to provide the highest levels of service to our customers in the industry, ‘we can, and we will’.
He added, “2020 has dealt us all challenges that we could not have predicted. The global response to the pandemic has had far-reaching impacts. For Lecico bathrooms, the challenge has been to maintain our normally very high levels of service to our customers. Talking to others in our industry has indicated that this problem is not unique to us at Lecico. Our ambition has been to continue to operate our business as normally as possible and to continue to provide the high levels of customer service that our customers have become accustomed to and expect from us.
“At Lecico we recognize that our customer service levels have played a significant role in the growth of our business; this has resulted in us establishing some strong, longstanding customer relationships which we are very proud of and a leading position in the market. We have a term that we often refer to internally to test our resolve to provide the best possible customer service levels – ‘We can, and we will.’ At a minimum we aim to deliver what our customers expect, but we want to exceed customer expectations wherever possible.”
PLUMBING MANUFACTURERS INTERNATIONAL OPTIMISTIC ABOUT BIDEN ADMINISTRATION’S PRIORITIES
Optimistic about U.S. President Joe Biden’s agenda, Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI) moved quickly to work with the Biden administration and the 117th Congress as they began serving their terms in January.
The new administration’s priorities closely align with many of PMI’s goals, specifically supporting infrastructure to improve drinking and wastewater systems, a strengthened U.S. EPA program – which includes WaterSense, and international trade and commerce.
“Improving our national infrastructure is a perfect bipartisan issue for 2021 because it brings benefits to all Americans,” said Kerry Stackpole, PMI’s CEO/executive director. “Not only can the package create sorely needed jobs and economic growth across diverse segments of our society, it also can provide incentives for green, energy- and water-efficient buildings that will positively impact our environment.”
Other key goals of the new administration that affect plumbing manufacturers focus on investing in career training at trade schools and community colleges; protecting consumers from purchasing counterfeit and stolen goods; and using retrofits to increase the energy efficiency of federal and commercial buildings, said PMI federal government affairs consultant Stephanie Salmon.
PMI distributed a letter in January to each member of Congress encouraging them to back these key industry priorities. Additional letters will be sent to new agency administrators once they have been confirmed. A PMI Government Affairs Alert to PMI members in January outlined how PMI will work with the new Congress and administration to keep the industry’s interests front and center.
Read more at www.safeplumbing.org/communications/pmi-news/article/plumbing-manufacturers-international-optimistic-about-biden-administration-s-priorities
CDC REPORT: COST OF INFECTIOUS WATERBORNE DISEASE IN THE UNITED STATES
The CDC has released a new analysis of waterborne disease in the United States following a comprehensive 10-year study. The report, Estimate of Burden and Direct Healthcare Cost of Infectious Waterborne Disease in the United States, found that about 7.15 million waterborne illnesses occur annually, leading to more than 6000 deaths. Most hospitalizations and deaths were caused by biofilm-associated pathogens (nontuberculous mycobacteria, Pseudomonas, Legionella), costing US $2.39 billion annually.
Premise plumbing water quality can be compromised by long water residency times, reduced disinfectant levels, and inadequate hot water temperatures, creating environments where pathogens (e.g., nontuberculous mycobacteria [NTM], Pseudomonas, and Legionella) can amplify in biofilms, the report states. People can be exposed to these pathogens through contact, ingestion, or inhalation of aerosols (e.g., from showerheads, building cooling towers, or decorative fountains).
“It’s not just about ingestion of water anymore,” said study coauthor Vince Hill, chief of the CDC’s waterborne disease prevention branch, in an interview with CNN. “We captured a more modern picture of what waterborne disease looks like in the United States today.”
Read the full report: wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/27/1/19-0676_article