Fire hydrants could have to be scrapped under new EPA rule

Dec 5, 2013

Water authorities are in danger of having to scrap thousands of brand new fire hydrants if a new federal environmental requirement is allowed to go through as written.

The Onondaga County Water Authority keeps a stockpile of 200 fire hydrants on hand to replace broken or damaged ones. They cost $1,200 each.

The EPA is lowering the amount of lead that can be in things that touch drinking water, like sink faucets, but it could also render local water authority's stockpile of hydrants useless.

OCWA keeps about 200 fire hydrants on hand to replace ones that break or are damaged.
OCWA keeps about 200 fire hydrants on hand to replace ones that break or are damaged.
Credit Ryan Delaney / WRVO

"Everyone thought fire hydrants would be exempt because nobody drinks out of fire hydrants," Sen. Charles Schumer said Wednesday.

Under the rules as they're written now, the hydrants sitting on hand at OCWA can't be installed starting in January.

"But there are none of the new hydrants available that meet these new standards," Schumer said. "To boot, the hydrants, when they would become available, would be more expensive."

Schumer wants the EPA to at the least grandfather in already purchased hydrants and then amend the rule permanently. The latter would take congressional action.

While hydrants are made of cast iron, a small amount of lead can be found in the casings and other pieces.