Government Affairs

Lead and Copper

AWWA Legislative Advisory

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued a statement to the press saying it will revise its guidance on the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act to exclude fire hydrants from compliance if Congress doesn’t pass legislation to do so before the Jan. 4 compliance deadline.


A statement from the U.S. EPA provided to AWWA reads:

We’re aware that the Senate is considering legislation that has already passed the House that would exempt fire hydrants from the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act of 2011. After issuing guidance in October on the Act, EPA consulted with a wide range of municipal, industry and public interest stakeholders. In response to the feedback received through that process, EPA concluded that fire hydrants are not widely used as a potable source of 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. EPA will continue to work with stakeholders impacted by the Act, and to protect clean and safe drinking water for all Americans.

AWWA urges members to continue to contact their senators to advocate for the passage of HR3588, the Community Fire Safety Act. This bill is up for a consent vote sometime in the next few days in the U.S. Senate. AWWA is hoping the Senate will use existing procedural motions to move the bill quickly. Thanks in large part to AWWA members and other interested parties who petitioned their elected leaders, the U.S. House already passed HR3588 on a vote of 384-0 earlier in December. If this bill is signed into law, it would exempt fire hydrants from compliance with the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. AWWA is providing a letter template that can be customized. For example, a utility could describe how often it uses a fire hydrant to supply drinking water – if ever – and for how long. It could also report the number of existing hydrants in the utility’s inventory and its challenges in purchasing compliant hydrants.

In late October, the U.S. EPA for the first time announced that fire hydrants were covered under the Reduction of Lead Act. This inclusion was surprising because fire hydrants were never considered to be covered, and the intent of the bill was to give the regulated community three years to prepare for the date the bill takes effect. The Reduction of Lead Act was modeled after laws in California and Vermont that explicitly exempt fire hydrants

Questions can be directed to Tommy Holmes, AWWA Legislative Director, at 202-326-6128.

Summary of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency posted on its website its final summary and frequently asked questions regarding the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act (P.L. 111-380). These frequently asked questions are to assist manufacturers, retailers, plumbers, water systems and the public to understand and comply with the requirements of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. The FAQs were developed after reviewing comments from stakeholders and represent the available guidance from the U.S. EPA on implementing the law’s provisions.

The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act will become effective on January 4, 2014, substantially reducing the allowable amount of lead in pipes, fittings and fixtures installed to deliver drinking water to consumers.

AWWA advises water utilities to review the FAQs as finalized by the U.S. EPA. For questions about this document, please contact Steve Via, AWWA Regulatory Affairs Manager, at 202-326-6130.