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EPA Regulation of Fire Hydrants – Congress Acts – President Signs

December 24, 2013 

Category:  Water Resources

When the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act was passed in 2011, amending the Safe Drinking Water Act, it did not exempt fire hydrants from provisions relating to lead in drinking water pipes and fixtures.  The Act provided a three-year time frame for affected parties to transition to the new lead free requirements starting January 4, 2014, but the impact on local on governments was not recognized until the Act was about to take effect.  Legislation exempting fire hydrants from the Act's provisions was drafted in mid-November.  In December, Congress quickly passed the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013 (H.R. 3588), which amends Section 1417(a)(4)(B) of the Safe Drinking Water Act exempting fire hydrants.  The bill was signed by the President on December 20th.  For more information, see the Environmental Protection Agency's Summary of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act and Frequently Asked Questions.

The EPA summary document includes a series of FAQs.  Question 5 is: "Are fire hydrants subject to the lead free requirements in section 1417(a)?"  The original answer included fire hydrants as a class that would not qualify for the exclusion for pipes, fittings, and fixtures used exclusively for nonpotable services under Sec. 1417(a).  The answer to  Question 5 in the revised Summary, published December 19, is:  "No, the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013, once enacted, would exempt fire hydrants from the lead free requirements in section 1417(a)."  The new law now exempts fire hydrants.


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