Schumer: Fire Hydrants Will Be Exempt From Costly EPA Rule

An EPA regulation that sought to replace millions of dollars-worth of stock fire hydrants in New York state because of new reduced-lead standards has been overturned in the U.S. Senate.

Senator Charles E. Schumer, who spearheaded the Senate’s effort to overturn the regulation, explained in a recent phone conference the origins of the vote; how on Oct. 22, the EPA released its interpretation of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act of 2011, and disclosed – for the first time – that fire hydrants will be subject to new reduced-lead standards due to the rare occurrence that they provide drinking water.

“This sudden mandate by the EPA (took) local water authorities, public safety officials and hydrant manufacturers by surprise across the country,” Schumer said. “The EPA’s (decision) to include fire hydrants, which are not a prime source for drinking water, in their reduced lead standards, was a classic case of federal bureaucracy unwisely harming our local communities and their budgets.”

Schumer pointed to the tens of thousands of hydrants – costing $1,200 a piece – that are currently sitting in stockyards, and how all of them would have to be thrown away after Jan. 4 because of the regulation’s standards.

“(This is why people ask) what the heck is going on in Washington?” Schumer said. “It doesn’t make practical sense.”

To counter the regulation, Schumer along with Sens. Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania and Rob Portman of Ohio sponsored the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013, which was passed by the House of Representatives earlier this month.

The bill passed by unanimous consent and will go to the President’s desk for signature. Schumer noted that the President has already voiced support for the bill and will likely sign it in the next couple of days.

“Thankfully, common sense prevailed and members from both parties and both houses came together to pass this bill that saves municipalities across New York millions of dollars in costs that would otherwise be flushed away,” Schumer said.

According to Schumer, Western New York will save a total of $554,900 in stockpiled hydrants and parts that can now be used after Jan. 4 of next year. Jamestown has 18 hydrants in reserve, saving $21,600. Dunkirk has three hydrants in reserve, saving $3,600.