taken from the CQ Roll Call, written by Katey McGettrick
The House on Monday passed legislation that would exempt fire hydrants from new lead-free requirements for drinking water systems scheduled to go into effect in January.
The bill (HR 3588), passed 384-0 under suspension of the rules, would clarify that fire hydrants could be built with materials that do not meet the revised standards.
It had been assumed that fire hydrants would be exempt along with other non-potable water systems, but the EPA published guidance in October stating fire hydrants would be covered because they can provide drinking water in emergency situations.
“Communities that never allow any human consumption of water from a hydrant will be barred from installing hydrants that today are in stock and ready to meet emergency repairs,” said Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, the bill’s sponsor.
A 2011 law (PL 111-380) lowered the maximum allowable lead content for the materials used in drinking water systems from 8 percent to a weighted average of 0.25 percent for their combined wetted surfaces and gave affected parties three years to comply with the new standard.
The law includes exemptions for non-potable water systems, such as those used for industrial purposes or sewer systems.
There are currently no fire hydrants being manufactured that meet the standards set to go into effect in January, which would leave cities and towns without replacement options that comply with the law.
“Without this fix, communities across the country would be spending millions to replace working hydrants … We do not need to impose unnecessary costs on our communities across this country,” said New York Democrat Paul Tonko, one of the bill’s co-sponsors.