An Environment Protection Agency regulation going into effect in January could cost taxpayers and local governments millions of dollars. Our Erin Connolly reports how one local lawmaker is looking fix the problem.
COLONIE, N.Y. -- Starting January 4, every newly installed fire hydrant in the United States needs to contain fewer lead parts.
It's a result of the Reduction of Lead In Drinking Water Act which was passed to reduce levels of lead in primary sources of drinking water. However, some say fire hydrants should not be included in that category.
"The fire hydrants aren't used for drinking water, only in an emergency for a very short period of time so it doesn't have an effect," Colonie Town Supervisor Paula Mahan said.
"A fire hydrant isn't normally used for drinking water purposes. It's there for fire protection," said John Frazier, the Division of Latham Water Superintendent.
Congressman Paul Tonko recently introduced the Community Fire Safety Act, to exempt fire hydrants from the EPA regulation.
"Sometimes laws have unintended consequences," Congressman Paul Tonko said. "The unintended consequence here is that hydrants were wrapped into the water infrastructure that was the focus of contamination by lead."
If Tonko's Bill is not passed into law, communities across the country would have to pay thousands of dollars to comply with the law. For example, the town of Colonie has an inventory of 25 fire hydrants. If Tonko's bill is not passed, then $50,000 of taxpayer dollars would have to be spent to make those hydrants compliant.
"Each dollar is crucial," Mahan said. "All municipalities are struggling to make sure their residents have proper services, all the necessary services."
Tonko said the bottom line is his legislation will not affect the quality of our drinking water.
"The spirit, letter of the law to remove lead from drinking water is not diminished at all and what we did was a practical thing here, a common sense solution, all ignited by the interaction of our friends at local level government,'' Tonko said.
On Monday, the House unanimously passed Tonko's bill. It is now headed to the Senate. If passed, it will go to the President's desk to be signed into law.