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U.S. Congress passes HR3588, the Community Fire Safety Act

Legislative Advisory

Thanks in large part to AWWA members who petitioned their elected leaders, the U.S. Senate today passed HR3588, the Community Fire Safety Act, on unanimous consent. The bill passed earlier in December in the U.S. House on a vote of 384-0. After this bill is signed into law by President Obama, it would exempt fire hydrants from compliance with the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act.

AWWA members and other interested parties – the Association of Metropolitan Water Agencies and the National Association of Water Companies – have worked tirelessly to contact and collaborate with elected officials to ensure passage of this bill. This bill has passed in sufficient time, since the Reduction of Lead Act will become effective on Jan. 4, substantially reducing the allowable amount of lead in pipes, fittings and fixtures installed to deliver drinking water to consumers.
AWWA’s Executive Director, David LaFrance, also issued a brief statement on this; it reads:

The American Water Works Association applauds the U.S. Senate for its swift action in passing the Community Fire Safety Act, H.R. 3588 through unanimous consent. Our elected leaders have done great service for their communities, and we are optimistic that President Obama will sign the bill into law.

We also are grateful to the many voices in the water community and beyond who joined with AWWA in bringing this issue to U.S. Congress over the past few weeks. Their willingness to raise their voices has made all the difference.

The Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act was not intended to cover fire hydrants. Our elected leaders have arrived at a common sense decision that will save valuable time and resources for water utilities and equipment manufacturers — costs that ultimately would be borne by water consumers.

In late October, the U.S. EPA for the first time announced that fire hydrants were covered under the Reduction of Lead Act. This inclusion was surprising because fire hydrants were never considered to be covered, and the intent of the bill was to give the regulated community three years to prepare for the date the bill takes effect. The Reduction of Lead Act was modeled after laws in California and Vermont that explicitly exempt fire hydrants.
Questions can be directed to Tommy Holmes, AWWA Legislative Director, at 202-326-6128.

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