U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer has requested that the federal Environmental Protection Agency delay a mandate that will force municipalities to replace fire hydrants after January 4, 2014, according to a press release.
The mandate is based on a law passed in 2011 to reduce the amount of lead in drinking water. It was not announced until October that the new measure would include fire hydrants, even though hydrants rarely provide drinking water. Based on the mandate, all municipalities on Long Island would have to discard any fire hydrants that have not yet been installed and purchase new ones at a cost of roughly $1,000 each.
“We requested the federal government take a look at this and give us more time,” James F. Gaughran, board chairman of the Suffolk County Water Authority, said last week. “Senator Schumer has jumped in and is helping us in pointing out how absurd this is.”
According to Mr. Gaughran, the law was never intended to include fire hydrants. Based on SCWA review of the legislation, it included certain brass fittings for new water main connections and water meters, measures the water authority was ready to implement for all new houses or future improvements. The fire hydrants, however, came as a surprise, and the Suffolk County Water Authority will have to throw out approximately $450,000 worth of equipment.
The bigger problem, he said, is that fire hydrant vendors are also confused by the new regulation, and have not been told what parts cannot be included in new models. The county does not want to purchase new hydrants and then discover that they, too, are noncompliant.
On the East End, it does not appear that the new regulation will have much impact on the municipalities, as the towns do not have a large stockpile of extra hydrants.
“It just seems like government bureaucracy has to figure out what they are doing,” Mr. Gaughran said. ‘We are very appreciative of Senator Schumer, on behalf of our taxpayers, because we will be happy to comply—but why should we have to waste and throw out good hydrants?”