Senate Passes Law to Exempt Hydrants From Drinking Water Lead-Reduction Rules

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By Anthony Adragna

Dec. 17 --The Senate passed by unanimous consent Dec. 17 the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013 (H.R. 3588), which would exempt fire hydrants from having to comply with new rules to reduce lead in water pipes and plumbing fixtures.

President Barack Obama hasn't taken a formal position on the bill, which passed the House unanimously Dec. 2, but he is expected to sign the measure into law.

On Dec. 16, the Environmental Protection Agency told Bloomberg BNA it intended to issue revised guidance exempting fire hydrants from requirements of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act (Pub. L. No. 111-380) if Congress failed to act before the Jan. 4 compliance deadline .

Toilets and shower valves are among the water fixtures exempt from the rules taking effect Jan. 4, but the EPA said in October guidance for the first time that fire hydrants would be regulated because they are occasionally used as sources of potable water.

That decision by the agency raised near-universal ire as critics said it would cost millions of dollars to bring fire hydrants into compliance. Experts said virtually none of the fire hydrants in use throughout the United States would be able to comply with the law.

“In response to the feedback received through that process, EPA concluded that fire hydrants are not widely used as a potable source of drinking 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,” the agency said in a Dec. 16 statement.

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To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at