California Approves CPVC for Hot and Cold Potable Water Distribution

By Consulting Specifying Engineer Staff February 22, 2007

The California Building Standards Commission (BSC) has approved a final environmental impact report (EIR) prepared by the state’s Housing and Community Development (HCD) Dept. and put its stamp of approval on the use of chlorinated polyvinyl chloride (CPVC) pipes for hot and cold potable water distribution in houses, apartments, hotels and motels anywhere in the state of California.

The state’s action comes after nearly 25 years of stops, starts, litigation and environmental review. The EIR anticipates the market for CPVC pipe in California will swell by two and a half times, from the current 13% market share to 32% compared to copper and other alternatives.

CPVC has technically been allowed for use under the state’s plumbing code, but it was restricted to use in areas where soil or water conditions caused premature failure of copper pipe. It was also restricted to use in buildings no taller than two stories. BSC’s action in approving the EIR removes all restriction on the use of CPVC in residential building, hotels and motels.

“We are truly gratified that authorities in California have finally agreed with their colleagues in 49 other states in recognizing the benefits of plastic pipe for hot and cold water plumbing in buildings,” said Dick Church, executive director of the Plastic Pipe and Fittings Assn (PPFA).

“What has always been ironic to us is that CPVC could only be used in areas where copper pipe failed because of aggressive water or soil conditions. Shouldn’t its ability to perform in the toughest conditions allow it be used in normal conditions? Apparently, that will now be the case, a great victory for consumers,” concluded Church.

Work on an environmental impact report began in 1982, shortly after IAPMO added CPVC to the Uniform Plumbing Code. Work stopped in the late ’80s when California authorities decided an EIR was not necessary, but resumed again nearly 10 years later as a result of litigation.

Opponents of CPVC use now have 30 days to challenge the state’s findings.CPVC pipe meets the requirements of building codes throughout the United States and is also widely used in fire sprinkler systems.