Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

RFI Response

For Input Regarding Measurement Science Needs for Safe and Sustainable Premise Plumbing Systems

Background Information

On October 10, 2018, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) published a Request for Information (RFI) Regarding Measurement Science Needs for Water Use Efficiency and Water Quality in Premise Plumbing Systems in the Federal Register.

The design of premise plumbing systems in the U.S. is based in part on decades-old data embodied in building codes; however, many important factors affecting these systems have changed considerably in recent years. Per capita water demand has declined and concerns exist regarding human exposure to opportunist pathogens in plumbing systems and other water quality issues. New technical information is needed to ensure that premise plumbing systems are designed, installed, maintained and operated such that the goals of water efficiency, water quality, and energy efficiency are considered in an integrated manner. Some specific changes include the following:

  • Americans have reduced indoor household water use by 22 % since the late 1990’s. As a result, new premise plumbing systems are being designed and installed with water flow rates that are significantly lower than those corresponding to the design data in building codes and other guidance.
  • Many existing plumbing systems are being operated at lower flow rates than those for which they were designed to operate, creating situations where water remains in distribution and building plumbing systems for longer periods of time, potentially rendering water treatment practices less effective and leading to conditions that can promote the growth of waterborne pathogens.
  • Materials used in piping networks and fixtures have changed, and there is insufficient information about their performance and impacts over time.
  • Water stressed areas are considering on-site reuse; however, there is a lack of data and design criteria for these systems.

Based on these factors and trends, it is clear that research is needed to advance the state of knowledge that supports the design of new premise plumbing systems and the operation and retrofit of existing systems to conserve water resources, protect public health, and support resilience. NIST, EPA, and WRF are collaborating to develop a measurement science to advance building water use efficiency and water quality, which will target the following core issues:

  • Updated data and models to support the design of new premise plumbing systems based on the lower water flow rates, the use of new materials, and the increased awareness of opportunistic pathogens and other water quality issues.
  • Information to inform the operation and potential retrofit of existing plumbing systems that are subject to lower water flow rates than those for which they were designed and which may be affected by degradation in system materials over time.
  • Future plumbing systems based on increasing demands for water efficiency and water quality, employing technologies such as onsite reuse, and different scales of delivery and treatment.
  • Human factors related to water use as well as system operation and maintenance.

In order to inform the development of that agenda, we are soliciting information to identify and prioritize measurement science needs related to premise plumbing systems, and any other research needed to enable safe and sustainable systems in the future.   As used in this notice, the term Measurement Science refers to:

  • Technical data
  • Performance metrics
  • Methods of test
  • Models and simulations tools
  • Reference materials
  • Calibrations and intercomparisons

We request your thoughts on the questions below as well as any additional information that you believe is relevant to this effort.

  1. What are the most important issues to design and operate safe, healthy, reliable, and efficient plumbing systems?
  2. In the context of the core issues listed above or any other issues identified, what research needs should be considered in developing this research agenda?
  3. Is there any other information you want to provide to this effort?

Submission Instructions

November 9, 2018 is the last day to submit responses. Respondents need not reply to all questions listed. Thank you very much for your time and effort in responding to this request. If you have any questions, please contact Dr. David Yashar at dyashar [at] (dyashar[at]nist[dot]gov).


  • Email to NIST safesustainableplumbing [at] (link sends email)
    • A list of the questions to which NIST seeks feedback is provided above.
    • In your response, clearly indicate next to every text segment which questions you are answering.
    • Include “RFI Response: Measurement Science for Safe and Sustainable Plumbing Systems” in the subject line of the message.
  • Attachments will be accepted in plain text, Microsoft Word, or Adobe PDF formats.


Created June 12, 2018, Updated November 15, 2019