EPA's lead-free hydrant mandate rejected

The Senate passed a House bill Tuesday that would override guidance from the Environmental Protection Agency requiring new fire hydrants be lead free by early next year.

Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) asked to pass the bill through unanimous consent, since it would have been impossible for manufacturers to meet the demand for new hydrants.

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Earlier this month, the House passed the Community Fire Safety Act, H.R. 3588, in a unanimous 384-0 vote. The bill now heads to President Obama’s desk for his signature before becoming law.

The bill, from Reps. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) and Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), is a response to guidance issued by the EPA on Oct. 22. That guidance said the EPA would require fire hydrants to be covered by the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, starting early next year, since fire hydrants are occasionally used for drinking water during emergency situations.

That means any new hydrant installed after Jan. 4, 2014, would have to have lead-free components.

Lawmakers argued that the guidance went too far and would have burdened municipalities.

The legislation would change the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act by adding language that exempts fire hydrants from the law, just as shower valves are already exempted.

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