Leave it to the regulation-happy Environmental Protection Agency to cry “Fire!” over an alleged public-health risk from hydrants when manufacturers and water authorities insist there's neither flame nor smoke in the EPA's claim.
Effective Jan. 4, the EPA mandates that new fireplugs must meet stricter standards for lead content — which means that cities must either dump or retrofit their hydrant inventories with parts that don't yet exist, ultimately costing local governments millions of dollars, Bloomberg reports. Last month the EPA ruled that fire hydrants are included in the 2011 Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act since they can be used in emergency situations to provide drinking water.
The American Water Works Association, representing utilities that serve 80 percent of the country, says the cost implications are enormous with no discernible health benefits. Hydrants supply drinking water only occasionally, such as when water mains break, says the association's Tom Curtis.
Hydrants now on streets are grandfathered. But consider the dilemma facing metropolitan areas that must keep a backstock of fireplugs available for replacement. Philadelphia, for one, has 119 fire hydrants warehoused at a cost of $2,000 each. Nationwide, the cost of compliance could be a financial catastrophe.
The EPA says it's meeting with “stakeholders” to hear their concerns. Here's hoping the EPA will lend an open ear rather than apply its customary blind eye, which is what enables useless, costly diktats.
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