Proposed Legislation to Exclude Fire Hydrants from the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act

hydrantOn Monday, December 2, the US House of Representatives unanimously voted to override a controversial October 22, 2013 EPA ruling that included fire hydrants in the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. This Act, slated to take effect January 4, 2014, would require all new fire hydrants and their accompanying pipes, fixtures, and fittings to be lead-free.

The bill, cosponsored by Congressmen Paul Tonko (D-NY) and Bill Johnson (R-Ohio), garnered sweeping bipartisan support, an unusual occurrence when it comes to EPA rulings. Named the Community Fire Safety Act, HR 3588, the bill also received broad support from the water industry, including the American Water Works Association, Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies, Association of California Water Agencies, National Association of Water Companies, and National Rural Water Association.

“This commonsense legislation eliminates an unintended consequence of a recent law enacted to enhance public health. No one is getting a steady supply of drinking water from the fire hydrant at the end of their street, so we should not add to the heavy burden our local governments with constrained budgets already experience,” said Rep. Tonko. “We need to remove lead from our drinking water, but we do not need to regulate fire hydrants to achieve this worthy and important goal,” he continued. “When Congress passed the amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act three years ago, I doubt anyone intended to have EPA regulate hydrants.”

Advocates of the Community Fire Safety Act are strongly urging individuals to contact their senators in support of this legislation, and to ask that the Act be voted into law. If the Act fails to pass, community water utilities will be stuck holding millions of dollars of brand new, non-compliant fire hydrants – with no means of procuring the required lead-free hydrants.

“Water utilities have made it clear that they have two choices come January 4: fail to comply with federal law, or leave gaps in critical fire hydrant service,” commented Rep. Johnson. “No one should ever face that choice.”

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