Tester flushes EPA fire hydrant rule

Senator: ‘There are smart rules and there are dumb rules… this was a dumb rule’

(U.S. SENATE) – As a farmer and former state legislator, Senator Jon Tester knows a dumb regulation when he sees one.

That’s why Tester recently joined with a bipartisan group of Senators to successfully block an EPA rule that would have forced communities in Montana to make sure that fire hydrants met the same lead-free requirements as drinking water fountains.

After hearing from Tester, the agency this week announced it would back off the rule, which Tester says defied common-sense and would have added unnecessary costs for local governments in Montana, while potentially threatening the supply of replacement fire hydrants and parts.

“There are smart rules that keep our air and water clean and then there are dumb rules – this is a dumb rule,” Tester said. “We need to take all responsible steps to protect our families, but local governments have enough on their plates without worrying about lead-free fire hydrants.”

Tester and his colleagues also passed legislation this week to amend the Safe Drinking Water Act -which the EPA used to justify its fire hydrant rule – to prevent any future regulation of fire hydrants’ lead levels.

The Safe Drinking Water Act was amended in 2011 to reduce lead content in drinking water pipes and fixtures, but with fire hydrants rarely – if ever – used to provide a short-term drinking water supply and the EPA giving local governments little time to acquire new replacement hydrants before the rule came into effect, Tester’s push quickly gained momentum in Congress.

Lead, a metal formerly used in household plumbing and water lines, can cause a variety of negative health effects, especially in developing infants and children. Tester supported the 2011 law that aims to stop the sale and installation of products that contain more than .25 percent lead.