EPA Discusses Revised ?Lead-free? Law

On Aug. 16, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and stakeholders discussed details of implementing recent changes to Safe Drinking Water Act provisions to reduce lead in drinking water.

The meeting came as the EPA seeks input by Aug. 31 on developing guidance and regulations to implement the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act, which among other things revises the definition of “lead free” for pipes, fittings and fixtures that deliver potable water.

?EPA was not clear on exactly what changes to current regulations and guidance it saw as necessary to assure implementation, but there were some important take-away messages from the meeting,? said AWWA Regulatory Engineer Steve Via. They include:

  • Manufacturers, distributors, retailers, water systems, plumbers, states, local plumbing inspectors and homeowners are to comply with the law?s requirements as of January 2014, whether or not the EPA has issued additional regulation or guidance.
  • The SDWA definition of ?lead-free? applies to ?pipes and plumbing fittings and fixtures? from source-to-tap.
  • Long-term revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule will likely include regulatory requirements related to ?lead-free? implementation. The LT-LCR will not be proposed until early 2013 and will not be final until 2015.
  • There is broad technical agreement that NSF-372 is a sound independent standard for determining if a plumbing product meets the new definition of lead-free.
  • Many, if not most, plumbing product manufacturers and their distribution networks already have products and information on how to effectively order products that are compliant with the new definition of ?lead-free.?

Via also noted that it may not be possible for the EPA to provide timely guidance because the agency faces significant legal and procedural barriers prior to finalizing the LT-LCR.

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