Senate committee approves bill that could lower pipe-replacement costs

LANSING, Mich. — The Senate Committee on Michigan Competitiveness on Wednesday approved legislation designed to encourage competition and reduce the cost of replacing Michigan’s aging water infrastructure, said Chairman Sen. Mike Shirkey.

“There are thousands of miles of water and sewer pipes across the state, and many of these pipes are getting too old to use,” said Shirkey, R-Clarklake. “Replacing the pipes can be expensive, so engineers should have the freedom to choose from all available options in their planning.”

Senate Bill 157, sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones, R-Grand Ledge, would help ensure that Michigan communities do not bar qualified materials from consideration for public works projects, potentially enabling communities to save money that could be used for other priorities or passed on to area residents.

SB 157 would require that when state funds are used for water infrastructure projects, all materials that meet American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) or American Water Works Association (AWWA) standards should be considered.

Under the bill, if a pipe or piping material meets or exceeds the recognized standards as determined by the ASTM or AWWA, then a public entity shall not exclude that piping material when soliciting bids for a public works project.

“In the past, there were fewer types of pipe materials available,” Shirkey said. “Today, engineers can choose among a much wider range of materials that meet current standards for safety, strength, temperature and performance. This bill encourages a competitive process that could save taxpayer money while still incorporating the crucial expertise of engineers.”

SB 157 has been sent to the full Senate for consideration.