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Federal law could force costly hydrant changes

A federal environmental law designed to keep lead out of drinking water could force water systems to get rid of all of they fire hydrants they have in reserve.

The EPA recently ruled that fire hydrants which contain lead would have to be scrapped because they potentially might be used to provide drinking water somewhere,  some time.

Senator Charles Schumer has been running a crusade to have the law changed because the hydrants cost around $1,200 each and there is little likelihood they would actually ever be used for drinking water.

New Erie County Water Authority Executive Director Rob Gaylord says the Congressional action was quick and overwhelming.
"For once in a bipartisan manner, at least the House at this point recognized how silly it is and voted 384-to-nothing to exempt fire hydrants from the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act. So now we're hoping the Senate will do the same," Gaylord said.

Gaylord says his water authority has 73 unused hydrants; together with spare parts that's $309,000 in equipment they may be forced to scrap.

In Chautauqua County, Schumer's staff found $25,000 in stockpiled hydrants which might be scrapped.

Mike Desmond is one of Western New York’s most experienced reporters, having spent nearly a half-century covering the region for newspapers, television stations and public radio. He has been with WBFO and its predecessor, WNED-AM, since 1988. As a reporter for WBFO, he has covered literally thousands of stories involving education, science, business, the environment and many other issues. Mike has been a long-time theater reviewer for a variety of publications and was formerly a part-time reporter for The New York Times.