As members of Congress engage in “immediate discussion” over how best to deal with the nation’s problems, individual communities across the nation are taking matters into their own hands, which as Martha Stewart might say, is “a good thing.” The rural Oklahoma community of Sapulpa, located in Creek County near Tulsa, is in the midst of replacing their old transite water pipes with new polyethylene plastic pipes, or PE. Transite is essentially concrete that has been impregnated with asbestos fibers, and has been used in many municipal water systems. Over the years, the material flakes off and enters the public water supply. The new polyethylene pipe is also being used to replace the old PVC pipe, the use of which required troublesome joints, collars and adhesives. PE is increasingly being used in community water systems across the nation, not only to replace PVC and transite pipes, but iron pipe as well–which is frequently lagged with asbestos.
PE, which has long been used in Europe for community water systems as well as in the U.S. for natural gas distribution, offers many advantages, not the least of which is the complete absence of asbestos and asbestos-containing products. In addition, PE eliminates a great deal of waste that occurs when transite and iron pipes leak. “Currently we loose [sic] 2.5 billion gallons of water per day through our obsolete piping system. When the nation decides that it can no longer accept, or cannot afford this loss, perhaps it will follow the lead of the gas industry and install PE,” says Drew Wilson of Water Online, a website that serves water engineering, treatment, and purification industries. Dale Reed, who is a field supervisor for the Creek County Rural Water District #3 agrees. “I’m a big fan of Polyethylene pipe,” he says. “Any chance I get to talk my board members into using Polyethylene, I do.” Be that as it may (and few would argue against water conservation), it is our opinion that anything that can help to remove asbestos from our soil, air and water is definitely something worthy of serious consideration.