Wednesday, April 16, 2014

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Rochester

EPA's New Fire Hydrant Mandate

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Rochester: EPA's New Fire Hydrant Mandate
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The Monroe County Water Authority says it will have to replace hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of fire hydrants around the county and city because of new lead standards.

The Environmental Protection Agency has placed a new mandate on water authorities nationwide.

Senator Chuck Schumer wants the EPA to reconsider.

Schumer says the EPA's new lead standards when it comes to fire hydrants is absurd. He says it will cost cities and counties hundreds of thousands of dollars to replace fire equipment.

Each fire hydrant costs about $1,200.

The EPA works on reducing lead-drinking water standards and considers fire hydrants gear that can provide drinking water.

It found that the lead levels in new fire hydrants are too high and set a mandate for municipalities to replace them.

In Monroe County, there's $400,000 worth of fire hydrants and parts in stock that will have to be replaced or even thrown out to meet EPA requirements.

Schumer wants this mandate delayed or wants existing hydrants exempt because hydrants should not be considered a drinking source.

"The law took everyone by surprise. Who drinks from a fire hydrant? And, even if once in blue moon a fire hydrant opens and kids get a sip off water, lead poisoning in water is a long term and cumulative affect. Drinking two times a summer is not going to affect anything," said Schumer.

"You take a hydrant out of service means the trucks are all geared up for hydrants at a certain spacing. If you take one out and we are unaware it creates a problem. I talk about it all the time, time is of the essence," said Sam Mitrano, Rochester Fire Chief.

This mandate is scheduled to take effect in January. Schumer says the EPA could waive it immediately, if not, he says, Congress is prepared to pass a law to exempt fire hydrants.

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