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New FAQs on the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act

The effective date for the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act is coming up soon on January 4, 2014.  After that date, the new standard for lead content in pipes, fittings, fixtures, and solder will be 0.25%.  This spring, EPA published some initial Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the new Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) language.  They solicited comments from stakeholders, and ASDWA and many states provided input.  Now they have released an updated FAQ document reflecting the input received on the original.  The new FAQs are available on the EPA website.

The new FAQs include many of the questions contained in the original version with updated language for clarification.  There are a few notable changes:

  • New questions are added for explaining the definition of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures, as well as “introduced into commerce”; specifically addressing fire hydrants; clarifying coverage for stand alone appliances; handling partially completed projects on January 4; applicability of state and local laws and regulations; and more variations of repair and replacement situations.
  • The new document is organized into topical sections like the initial document with a new section on “Coverage” that includes many of the new questions.
  • One of the most common questions initially, concerned equipment that was temporarily taken out of service (for repair or just seasonal storage) and then placed back in service.  In the initial FAQ, EPA said these would not have to be upgraded to the new lower lead standard before being placed back in service.  In the new FAQ there is still no requirement for upgrading to the new standard but a new twist is that the equipment must be returned to the same location.  EPA is silent on how the location requirement will be tracked and enforced.
  • One other notable addition to the document is a link to a new EPA technical paper on how to identify the marks that demonstrate compliance with third party certification for lead free plumbing.
  • While there is no specific request for comment, EPA promises to continue to update and improve the FAQs as needed in the future.  These questions will be the basis for the regulatory requirements related to lead content that will be included in the long term revisions to the LCR, now under development.

This is one of the agenda topics for the State – EPA Roundtable next week in Long Beach, so there will be some time there for states to discuss issues with EPA.