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Hydrants Exempt from the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act

USEPAA successful political campaign by the nation's drinking water community resulted in fire hydrants being exempted from the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. Just weeks before the new federal law went into effect, both the U.S. House and Senate passed the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013 and President Obama quickly signed it into law. The legislation formally exempts fire hydrants from the Lead in Drinking Water Act, a federal law that became effective on January 4.

In mid-December, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) also announced it would revise its interpretation of the law to exclude hydrants, even if congress didn't pass the Community Fire Safety Act. The USEPA issued the following statement, "After issuing guidance in October on the Act, EPA consulted with a wide range of municipal, industry and public interest stakeholders. In response to the feedback received through that process, EPA concluded that fire hydrants are not widely used as a potable source of water and that the guidance should be revised to exclude fire hydrants if Congress doesn’t take action to do so before the January deadline. EPA will continue to work with stakeholders impacted by the Act, and to protect clean and safe drinking water for all Americans."

The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act revised the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) definition of "lead free" for piping, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures from eight percent to 0.25 percent for brass and bronze. The limit for solder and flux remains at 0.2 percent. The federal law applies to the wetted surfaces of any product used in a drinking water system, such as brass plumbing fittings and components (curb stops, meters, regulators, and check valves). It does not apply to fixtures or equipment used for manufacturing, irrigation, hydrants, toilets, or washing machines because they are not considered sources of drinking water. The law does not mandate retrofitting or replacing already-installed equipment.



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