On January 4, 2011, the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act was signed into federal law. It will go into effect January 4, 2014. The law, which amends the Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. §300g-6, defines “lead free” as not exceeding a weighted average of 0.25% lead, calculated against the wetted surfaces of potable drinking water pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures. In general, the federal law does not apply to the gate valves and fire hydrants manufactured by AMERICAN Flow Control. More specifically, the original law excludes pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, or fixtures that are used exclusively for non-potable services where the water is not anticipated to be used for human consumption, and excludes distribution main gate valves that are 2 inches in diameter or larger.
Although fire hydrants were not specifically addressed in the original text of the new federal law, on October 22, 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released an FAQ guidance referencing expectations for compliance. This guidance was unexpected and caused significant confusion and concern in the waterworks industry. As a result, the EPA consulted with utility, distributor and manufacturer stakeholders. On December 16, 2013, the EPA released a statement concluding that “fire hydrants are not widely used as a potable source of water and that the guidance should be revised to exclude fire hydrants”. Subsequent legislation was signed by President Obama on December 20, 2013, entitled the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013 (H.R. 3588). The legislation serves to exempt fire hydrants from the low lead requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. AMERICAN Flow Control, along with others in the industry, worked diligently to support and promote this legislation. We are proud to have been able to serve the interests of our utility and distributor customers in this effort.
Although not required by law, AMERICAN Flow Control will continue to produce and mark fire hydrants that would meet the low lead requirements of the Safe Drinking Water Act. In the subsequent weeks and months, a relief to the industry’s supply chain is very much needed. In that regard, AMERICAN would like to urge utilities to allow their local distribution to exhaust supply inventories, before enacting any changes to their standards or specifications, which would require the use of low lead fire hydrants.
It should be noted that some states, such as California, Vermont, Maryland and Louisiana, enacted similar legislation establishing earlier effective dates. Please be aware there may be cases where the state legislation may be more restrictive than the federal legislation.
Should you have any questions, please contact your local AMERICAN Flow Control representative, or request more information by going to the Contact Us section of this website.