Fire Safety
6:58 pm
Wed December 4, 2013

Senator Schumer Seeks EPA Exemption for Fire Hydrants

Hundreds of new fire hydrants waiting to be installed by Onondaga County and the City of Syracuse might have to be scrapped next month, unless the EPA exempts them from an unexpected new lead standard.  Senator Chuck Schumer stopped by the Onondaga County Water Authority today to demand an exemption for the $400,000 worth of fire hydrants:

Fire hydrants at OCWA
Credit Scott Willis / WAER
Senator Charles Schumer explains the potential issues caused by a 2011 EPA law, and why OCWA and the City of Syracuse should be exempt.

The EPA released an interpretation of its standards in October that specified the hydrants would be subject to new reduced lead standards, because they occasionally provide drinking water. Senator Schumer says the EPA apparently didn’t take fire safety into consideration when the agency arrived at its interpretation, because it puts water authorities in a tough spot: they don’t want to replace a broken or damaged hydrant with a non-compliant one, and they also can’t leave a neighborhood without hydrant service.  

Senator Schumer talks about the EPA regulation at OCWA
Credit Scott Willis / WAER
Schumer says the new standard actually brings communities down a notch in terms of fire safety, if OCWA or the city can’t replace broken or damaged hydrants.  If the EPA doesn’t act on its own, Schumer says the House has already passed an exemption for the hydrants, and he’s urging the Senate do the same.