Skip Navigation Links and Sidebar
Top menu bar Background  
Home About the PSC Agendas and Hearings Consumer Assistance Clerks Office Publications Utilities
Home Page > Utility Regulation > Water & Wastewater > Blackwater Project - Building Codes

Building Codes & County Ordinances Work Group Minutes:
Meeting #1 (September 8, 2000 @ 1:30 PM)

Mo Madani, DCA
Ann Stanton, DCA
Katrina Tew, PSC
Tom Walden, PSC
Dan Hoppe, PSC
Bill Lowe, PSC
K.A. Tenah, UF
Patti Daniel, PSC
Martha Golden, PSC
John Williams, PSC
Shannon Austin, PSC
Lee Killinger, FAC

The Building Codes & County Ordinances Work Group of the Interagency Copper Pipe Corrosion ("Black Water") Project was called to order by Patti Daniel of the Florida Public Service Commission (PSC) at 1:30 pm. Daniel (PSC) briefly summarized events of the first Interagency Project meeting on August 24, 2000 and reviewed the proposed goal of this work group -- to explore new (or changes to existing) building codes or county ordinances and public education as a means to prevent the black water problem on a going forward basis. The group then discussed the objectives of the work group meeting as well as the need to make an oral presentation on the group's progress at the upcoming Interagency Project meeting scheduled for Friday, September 29, 2000.

The meeting was then turned over to Mo Madani of the Florida Department of Community Affairs (DCA). Madani (DCA) described efforts made over a two-year period by the former Board of Building Codes and Standards and its contractor, Dr. Tenah of the University of Florida (UF). He provided copies of the final report of that project to the group.

Madani (DCA) also distributed copies of Chapter 6 of the third draft of the Florida Building Code-Volume II-Plumbing which will go into effect on July 1, 2001. Section 605.1 of this draft states:

605.1 Water compatibility. Water service pipe and water distribution pipe shall be resistant to corrosive action and degrading action from the potable water supplied by the water purveyor or individual water supply system.

Madani (DCA) explained that this new provision will put the responsibility on the engineer and the contractor to select the proper piping for homes. The group was very pleased with this draft language. When asked what action could be taken if a contractor was shown not to be in compliance with the new building code, Madani (DCA) responded that the contractor could be taken to court. The group seemed very pleased with the new provisions in Chapter 6 of the draft building code.

Madani (DCA) stated that DCA does not discriminate against products and that is impractical to ban copper pipe in Florida as it appears to have no problems in most areas of the state. Madani (DCA) stated that very little more can be done within the code, but that working through the Plumbing Technical Advisory Committee to the Florida Building Commission (FBC) on an educational program is advised. The group could address training for contractors/designers on the black water problem and on ways to comply with the new provision in Chapter 6 of the code in areas that are prone to the black water problem. The FBC is made up of 12 voting members which meet once a month. Madani (DCA) and Ann Stanton (DCA) work with the FBC as technical advisors on the code. The upcoming FBC meetings within the project's timeframe are October 16-17 in Orlando, November 13-14 in West Palm Beach, and December 11-12 in Orlando.

Lee Killinger of the Florida Association of Counties (FAC) agreed with Madani's (DCA) suggestion to work with the FBC, describing the actions of the Governor's Study Commission on Building Codes and the FBC toward putting together a statewide code designed to meet the needs of all Florida's citizens. He stated that you cannot propose any changes to the codes without involving the FBC. He brought up the ability of local governments to amend the code, although such amendments must be re-evaluated periodically. Madani (DCA) added that these local amendments are allowed as long as they make the requirements more stringent. Also, they must be approved by a county-wide review board. Although such amendments to the code do not have to be approved by DCA, they could be appealed to DCA.

Discussion ensued regarding the predictability of the black water problem. Tom Walden stated that the problem can show up within 2 weeks or after 40 years. In its regulation of water utilities, the PSC does not impose quality of service standards that exceed those promulgated by the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), and the quality of the water as it enters the homes of customers experiencing the black water problem is meeting all state and federal drinking water standards. The problem arises because black water is an aesthetic issue, not a health issue. So far, corrosion has shown up only in Type M copper pipe, which has thinner walls. Black water has been found in commercial applications as well as residential. People often request copper piping because it is viewed as a desired option by northerners moving to Florida. Workmanship has been implicated as a contributor to the problem, as have flux, and aggressive water (dissolved minerals, organic matter, ammonia and sulfides in the water), and the velocity of the water.

Dr. K.A. Tenah (UF) was asked to present some of the UF study's findings. He described an extensive literature search, ranging from Florida to the United States and the world, and a field survey to determine the extent of the problem. Results indicate the black water problem is found down the east coast of Florida to Daytona and then across the I-4 corridor, with many cases in the Orlando area. Unfortunately, conditions were so diverse that they were unable to pin down the exact cause(s) of the problem and strongly recommended further field studies, emphasizing the need to take 1,300 water samples and 400 pipe samples in a consistent search pattern. He passed out copies of a proposal put together in 1999 that, if funded, could resolve some of the questions for an estimated $800,000. (He noted that this figure would likely be higher now due to increased salaries and travel expenses.) The proposal included the replacement of corroded pipes for homeowners volunteering to take part in the study. He strongly suggested that an independent group do the study and that stakeholders be used in an advisory capacity.

Daniel (PSC) reported on decisions made by the Sulfide Source Water Issues Work Group in their first meeting, including their decision to concentrate only on the sulfur in the water and the reaction with copper piping. Tenah re-stated that there are other factors involved. Madani (DCA) added that it was cheaper to consider all factors concurrently rather than have to go back again, and suggested that recommending additional research to further define the problem would open other ways to solve it.

John Williams (PSC) pointed out that the DEP will not pursue the problem if there are no adverse health impacts demonstrated. Killinger (FAC) pointed out that the codes aspect of the issue appears resolved in the 2001 Florida Building Code, and that the recommendation can be made to the Legislature to request additional authority for the PSC and DEP to regulate black water. Further, he recommended that concerned parties contact people who know funding sources to identify help for people who need to re-pipe. Madani (DCA) recommended getting representatives of the insurance industry involved to explore options for helping people with black water problems.

The next meeting will be held in Room 260N of the Sadowski Building (2555 Shumard Oak Boulevard, Tallahassee, Florida), on Thursday, September 14, 2000 at 1:30. The following tasks were assigned:

  • Look at and be prepared to comment on Dr. Tenah's proposal by the next meeting (pp. 15-22) – (everyone)
  • Identify locations where copper is referenced in Ch. 6 of the FBC-Plumbing (Madani, Stanton)
  • Invite a Department of Insurance representative to the next meeting (Madani)

The meeting was adjourned at 4:00 p.m.

Back to Interagency Pipe Corrosion (Black Water) Project

© 2015 State of Florida
Website Feedback || Accessibility Statement || Copyright & Disclaimer || Privacy Policy || Contact Info || Search || Site Index || Site Map || RSS Feeds

Florida Public Service Commission
2540 Shumard Oak Blvd.
Tallahassee, FL 32399-0850