On January 4, 2011 the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act was passed. It went into effect on January 4, 2014. This Act amended Section 1417 of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) making it unlawful to introduce into commerce certain items that are not lead-free. “Lead-free” was re-defined as not more than a weighted average of 0.25 % lead when used with respect to the wetted surface of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures conveying potable water for human consumption.
The SDWA Section 1417(a)(4)(A) states:
One exemption is for pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, or fixtures, including backflow preventers, that are used exclusively for non-potable services, such as manufacturing, industrial processing, irrigation, outdoor watering, or any other uses where the water is not anticipated to be used for human consumption.
To help with the revised requirements the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published a document entitled, “Summary of the Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act and Frequently Asked Questions.” One of the questions posed on the FAQ was, “How does the EPA interpret the new statutory provisions to apply to repairs, re-installations, and replacement parts?”
Even though the EPA’s document does not mention specifically that replacement/repair parts (i.e. not a pipe, fitting or fixture) need to be lead-free it is important to check with the local administrative authorities since their requirements may be more restrictive.
The Foundation, in order to assist field personnel in meeting lead-free requirements, has been working with the backflow prevention assembly manufacturers for the last six years to ease any transition between lead to lead-free parts. In that time frame the Foundation has evaluated existing approved assemblies with new lead-free parts to ensure the assembly continues to meet Foundation standards as well as these lead-free requirements discussed here.
The result is a set of documents for various backflow prevention assembly manufacturers detailing the lead-free repair/replacement parts available for commercially leaded assemblies which maintain the assemblies’ Foundation Approval.
In all instances, check with the local administrative authorities first before beginning a repair. Local authorities’ requirements of lead-free replacement/repair parts may vary. But, depending upon local requirements, field personnel may be allowed to maintain backflow prevention assemblies with either Foundation approved commercially leaded and/or lead-free replacement/repair parts.