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Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts has approved legislation that officially updates the state's default plumbing code to the 2018 Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC).
The legislation, LB 131, includes the plumbing code bill (formerly LB 218), along with a series of other bills heard by the Urban Affairs Committee. The Nebraska State Legislature passed LB 131 by a 40-7 vote.
In February 2021 the Urban Affairs Committee held a hearing to discuss the need for the state to update its default plumbing code from the 2009 UPC, and unanimously advanced LB 218 — which was later merged into LB 131 — to update the plumbing code to the 2018 UPC. The legislation continued the state's longstanding decision that a default plumbing code will only go into effect if a local jurisdiction does not already have its owned adopted plumbing code.
The bill also went one step further to promote uniformity and continuity throughout Nebraska by mandating state-owned or state-funded buildings utilize the 2018 UPC. This new decision supports the plumbing industry and professionals who gain certainty about which code they should train to and implement for a project.
Sen. Justin Wayne (District 13), chairman of the Urban Affairs Committee, introduced LB 218 and praised the bill's passage. "LB 218 (as amended into LB 131) will help protect the health and safety of all Nebraskans, regardless of whether they live in an urban, suburban, or rural area, and ensures that Nebraska plumbers and builders can use modern and efficient techniques in new construction."
The 2018 UPC is designed to provide consumers with safe and sanitary plumbing systems while, at the same time, allowing latitude for innovation and new technologies. By adopting the 2018 UPC, the state has made it possible for local jurisdictions to utilize UPC Appendix M, known as the Peak Water Demand Calculator (WDC), which determines pipe sizes based on flow rates and probabilities of water use, depicting a more realistic need for the plumbing systems. The WDC helps reduce material costs by 10-15% and improves sustainability as water travels more efficiently through the systems — delivering hot water faster to the user and resulting in less water waste — and improves water quality by preventing water stagnation, thus mitigating the risk of harmful pathogens and contaminants spreading in the system.
"I applaud the work of Sen. Wayne and the Urban Affairs Committee ensuring Nebraskans have access to the most progressive, sustainable, and resilient plumbing code available," said Brian Rogers, IAPMO's vice president of Field Services. "The adoption of the 2018 Uniform Plumbing Code as Nebraska's default plumbing code is the gold standard for plumbing codes and will benefit citizens throughout the state. Passing LB 131 reaffirms the state's commitment to help ensure that all buildings have safe and cost-effective plumbing systems that meet the demands of today's consumers."
Partner groups around the state supported this bill, including the Mechanical Contractors of Omaha, Nebraska Plumbing Heating and Cooling Contractors Association, Nebraska State AFL-CIO, United Association of Plumbers Local Union 16, United Association of Steamfitters & Plumbers Local Union 464, as well as city officials from Grand Island and Lincoln.
"IAPMO is thrilled to see Nebraska recommit to safe and effective plumbing systems, supporting the plumbing industry, and creating more continuity throughout the state," Rogers said. "We are always available as an education partner and guide for how the 2018 UPC can be applied and used by any industry professional."