January 8, 2014, Melville, NY USA – The Nassau Suffolk Water Commissioners’ Association (NSWCA) applauds the good judgment demonstrated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the strong leadership of Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) regarding the Community Fire Safety Act of 2013, which has resulted in an exemption for fire hydrants.
The Act, which amends the 2011 Reduction of Drinking Water Act, was intended to reduce the potential for lead in drinking water by establishing lower lead thresholds, a position supported by major groups including the NSWCA. As of January 4, 2014, the amount of lead in fittings, pipes and fixtures will be significantly reduced.
The original bill was essentially based on California and Vermont laws that explicitly exempt fire hydrants. However, in late October 2013, the EPA indicated that fire hydrants, even though they are not intended for drinking water, were not exempt. To comply, water districts on Long Island and across the nation would no longer be able to use stockpiled replacement hydrants, and would be compelled to purchase reduced lead fire hydrants. The new exemption changes that.
NSWCA President Howard Abbondondelo commented, “All 21 of our commissioner-run member districts have stockpiles of hydrants for emergency, expansion and projected future maintenance needs. The savings to water districts in Nassau and Suffolk realized by this exemption could run into the millions of dollars, in addition to savings of time and labor.”
The U.S. Senate passed the bill unanimously, as did the U.S. House of Representatives, 384-0 and President Obama signed it into law. The American Water Works Association (AWWA) called it “a tremendous victory for the water sector, our communities and common sense.”
NSWCA President Abbondondelo, also a Commissioner from Albertson, added “considering that Long Island water districts are constantly seeking to contain costs in order to continue to keep Long Island’s average per 1,000 gallon pricing among the lowest rates in the USA, this development is great news for all Long Island ratepayers.”
NSWCA 1st Vice President Thomas Hand, a Commissioner from Massapequa commented, “We are very pleased with the united front and the determined bipartisan leadership that has enabled this to come to pass. It’s a positive outcome for all.”