Plumbing Engineer - Columns: February 2013: Designer's Guide
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Plumbing Engineer - Columns: February 2013: Designer's Guide

World Plumbing Day

By Timothy Allinson, P.E.,
Murray Co., Long Beach, Calif.

Surely most in this industry are already aware that World Plumbing Day is March 11, 2013. It has been every year since 2010, the year it was first introduced by the World Plumbing Council. “It’s more than giving plumbers a pat on the back. It’s about empowering an undervalued profession today and creating new generation of innovative professionals for tomorrow,” said GP Russ Chaney, CEO of IAPMO and chairman of the World Plumbing Council. “It’s especially important in developing countries where a good plumber may be as vital to a young child’s survival as the doctor who treats a waterborne disease that could have been avoided.”

There is an oath associated with World Plumbing Day: “Today, on 11 March, while celebrating World Plumbing Day, I pledge that to the best of my ability, I will strive to preserve the precious natural resource of water and to protect the environment. As a member of the Plumbing Fraternity, I declare that it is my responsibility to contribute towards provision of potable water and safe sanitation to those of my countrymen, who are deprived of these basic facilities.”

By chance, World Plumbing Day was established two months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti. Many perished not from the earthquake itself, but from lack of potable water and sanitary facilities after the fact. The following year, coincidentally on March 11, 2011, the tsunami in Japan again reminded the world of the importance of safe drinking water and sanitation, which were among the many challenges that Japan faced after the disaster.

It wasn’t until a year later on March 9, 2012, that the U.S. Senate, after the urging of IAPMO, passed a bipartisan resolution formally designating March 11 as World Plumbing Day in the U.S. Senate Resolution 393 (Bennet) highlights the role plumbing plays in safeguarding public health in the U.S. and worldwide, addresses the lack of safe drinking water and sanitation across the globe, declares access to such a vital human right, and praises trained plumbing professionals for maintaining, repairing and rebuilding the aging water infrastructure of the U.S.

The resolution reads, in part, “Whereas the installation of modern plumbing systems must be accomplished in a specific, safe manner by trained professionals in order to prevent widespread disease, which can be crippling and deadly to the community; … Now, therefore, be it resolved that the Senate designates March 11, 2012, as ‘World Plumbing Day.’”

“Access to a clean water supply is something that many of us take for granted, but a lack of access has unfortunately led to death and illness around the globe,” Senator Bennet said. “I am proud to support World Plumbing Day to help raise awareness surrounding a serious issue that countries and communities across the world contend with every day.”

Other politicians around the world have shared similar sentiments. Kelvin Thompson, MP Member for Wills, noted, “The vocation of plumbing is at the coalface of sustainability. Whether plumbers are dealing with water, sanitation, gas or solar, raising plumbing industry standards and becoming a venue for innovative research and development of sustainable practices are paramount for the industry and for government.”

Ken Wyatt, MP Member for Hasluck, stated, “When you consider that water is a precious commodity, which covers 70 percent of the earth’s surface but only 2.5 percent is fresh water and only 0.77 percent is easily available as potable water, a civilized society or one that is developing cannot survive and function effectively without adequate plumbing infrastructure. Plumbing systems allow people to live together.”

Shayne Neumann, MP Member for Blair, explained, “In my home state, plumbers are well represented by the Plumbers Union Qld. I want to pay tribute to the Plumbers Union for its advocacy on behalf of workers and its cooperation in the role of vocational education and training.”

John Forrest, MP Member for Mallee, said, “I would like to recognize the contribution that plumbers and engineers have made. I dare say that their contribution to human longevity has been greater than that of the medical profession. Today, I salute them and join in the comments from other members in recognizing that safe and secure water is the key to good health… History shows that great leaps in humankind’s advancement, both physically and socially, have been tied to advances in plumbing technology.”

The World Plumbing Council urges organizations and individuals to take action to raise awareness of World Plumbing Day. Individuals can write editorial letters to local and national newspapers and other publications to raise awareness of World Plumbing Day, the importance of the plumbing industry and the professional discipline of plumbing engineering. The more awareness is created, the less stigmatic the plumbing discipline might be to college graduates – an ongoing challenge in our industry. There is a PDF letter template on the World Plumbing Day website for those who need some suggestions on verbiage for editorial letters.

Many schools would welcome the opportunity to have a visit from a representative of the plumbing industry speak to their students on World Plumbing Day. There is a PowerPoint Template on the World Plumbing Day website that can be tailored to the locale of the school. This template is structured for students in grades 1 through 5. Why don’t you make a presentation at your local grade school?

In concert with the template, the World Plumbing Council is sponsoring an international poster contest to promote the Day. Entrants must be in grades 1 through 5, and the three winners will receive small cash prizes while their schools will receive much larger awards. Refer to the World Plumbing Day website for details.

The bottom line is, in this remarkable day and age where technology has made enormous strides in bettering the quality of life for everyone in the developed world, there are still 1.1 billion people who don’t have access to fresh drinking water. There are 2.6 billion who don’t have access to proper toilets and 3.1 million children who die each year from unsafe water. This needs to change. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is working to make changes with its campaign to reinvent the toilet. The World Toilet Day Organization is also championing change through its provocative “I Give a S***” campaign. Clearly, it is our job, as professionals in the plumbing industry, to do our part to promote World Plumbing Day, as well as anything else we can do for the greater good of this ongoing international challenge.

Timothy Allinson is a senior professional engineer with Murray Co., Mechanical Contractors, in Long Beach, Calif. He holds a bsme from Tufts University and an mba from New York University. He is a professional engineer licensed in both mechanical and fire protection engineering in various states, and is a leed accredited professional. Allinson is a past-president of aspe, both the New York and Orange County Chapters. He can be reached at laguna_tim@yahoo.com.

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