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EPA Holds Webinar on Lead Reduction Act

This week, EPA held an information gathering webinar on the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act of 2011.  This revision to the Safe Drinking Water Act sets new lower lead levels for “lead free” plumbing pipes, fittings, and fixtures that can be sold and used to provide drinking water to the public.  EPA held this session to hear from stakeholders as EPA begins to develop regulations to implement the new provisions. Speakers included representatives from EPA, environmental/consumer groups, states, plumbing manufacturers, and water utilities.
All of the speakers were generally supportive of the new requirements.  A Clean Water Action representative stressed the need for good labeling and education for consumers so they know that what they are buying complies with the law.  California described their experiences implementing similar requirements in that state.  Philadelphia Water Department shared the sheer number of fittings and fixtures covered by the Act in their inventory and the attendant stress on their capital and operating budget.  A representative of the plumbing industry appreciated the uniformity that the federal requirements provide, compared to the potential for many individual state mandates, and also expressed support for third party certification of compliance with the Act.  The industry is also concerned that labeling for products be reasonable and avoid duplication.
EPA has some specific areas where they want input before making final decisions on the regulatory language.  These include labeling of products and demonstrating compliance with the lead free requirements.  Labeling may be required for both the lead free products and exempted products.  Exempted products include those specifically exempted (toilets, shower valves, fire hydrants, etc.) and those exempted by purpose (used exclusively non potable services).  Labeling could be required for the product, the packaging, or both.  For certification that the product is “lead free” according to the new definition, EPA is considering self-certification, third party certification, or some combination.  Additional comments are being accepted by email through April 30, 2015 at leadfreeact@epa.gov.