EPA has issued a final guidance document regarding changes made by the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act for lead-free plumbing fittings and fixtures that take effect on Jan. 4, 2014. The guidance stipulates that all dealers, retailers and installers must not sell non-compliant products after that date even if they are part of existing inventory.

The document includes several implementation guidelines, information on the scope of the act and an FAQ to assist with compliance. The act’s amendments cover two primary areas:

  • First, it lowers the maximum allowable lead content of plumbing products such as pipes and fixtures from 8% to 0.25%.
  • Second, the act adds exemptions to the lead-free requirements for any pipes, pipe or plumbing fittings, or fixtures that are used in manufacturing, industrial processing, for irrigation purposes and any other uses where the water is not intended for human consumption.

The federal legislation mimics existing California regulations with one major difference; California regulates products intended to provide water consumption. The act, on the other hand, includes service products that are anticipated to be used for human consumption. For example, EPA has reasoned that fire hydrants are anticipated for use for human consumption because they “can be, and are, used in emergency situations to provide drinking water,” the guidance said.

Your Home Builders Association has learned that fire hydrants may be in short supply and substantially more expensive, the result of this new rule making by EPA.

EPA has reasoned that hydrants are occasionally used as an emergency source of drinking water.

Your Home Builders Association has joined various water utilities groups to call on EPA to reconsider its imposition of the lead-free mandate for fire hydrants.  The new rule takes effect January 4, 2014.