ROLLING MEADOWS, ILL. — The Get The Lead Out Plumbing Consortium met with media representatives here at the Plumbing Manufacturers International offices on Nov. 9 to discuss how the group of associations and manufacturers are working together to explain the impact of the national “Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act” on contractors, apprentices, distributors, engineers and code officials, and to educate and train these four industry sectors, so all professionals are prepared for when the law goes into effect in Jan. 2014.

Speaking on behalf of the consortium, Roger Peugeot, vice chairman of the PHCC Educational Foundation, explained to media members how the Act will reduce the permissible levels of lead in pipe, fittings and fixtures that come into contact with potable water to a weighted average less than or equal to .25% from the current national standard of an 8% maximum. However, the standard does not include water not intended for human consumption, including water used for manufacturing, industrial processing, irrigation and outdoor watering. Toilets, bidets, urinals, fill valves, flushometer valves, tub fillers, shower valves, service saddles, or water distribution main gate valves that are two inches in diameter or larger are also excluded from the new law.

The federal law was spearheaded by Plumbing Manufacturers International (PMI), based upon the template of a California law generally referred to as AB 1953. Prior to the federal legislation, Vermont, Maryland and Louisiana have also individually adopted the lower lead mandate, working with PMI to harmonize their standards with California and now with the Federal law at the .25% level.

“The key to compliance is awareness,” said Barbara C. Higgens, executive director of Plumbing Manufacturers International. “When AB 1953 was enacted in California, some people were caught off-guard. This coalition is an outgrowth of what happened in California. We are working to build understanding of the new requirements, so there is no confusion about compliance.”

As the owner of Roger the Plumber, based in Overland Park, Kan., Peugeot understands firsthand how this will affect plumbing contractors across the nation.

“This is a game changer,” said Peugeot. “There is a lot of stock out there in trucks and warehouses, which will need to be used by the end of the year [2013]. The product also takes a different technique for soldering, which will involve training.”

Replacing the lead in the new materials and products will be material formulations using a variety of alloys including silicon, bismuth, antimony, tin, nickel, or special heat treatments as alloying elements. 

“Manufacturers are already working to bring these lead free products into place, which is why the consortium was formed,” added Peugeot. “Overall all there is a need to provide information and training to the distributor, contractor, engineer and code official. To get the word out to all their chapter members, IAPMO and ICC will also be rolling out this strategy.”

Part of the consortium’s strategic plan is to offer training at all major industry trade shows and conferences throughout the year. A website will also be created offering support materials and a Frequently Asked Questions guide, plus the educational sessions at industry events will also be listed.

“We are developing a PowerPoint presentation that contractors, distributors, engineers and code officials can use, so the message being delivered to the industry is the same across the board,” said  Cindy Sheridan, COO of the PHCC Educational Foundation. “For contractors there will be specific things for them to do.”

“We are hoping that contractors will hear about this via business owners,” said Peugeot. “We are also hoping that owners will have meetings in-house and train their employees around this since the technique for soldering is a different animal when working with lead free products.”  

According to Greg Gyorda, director of marketing communications at Watts Water Technologies, each manufacturer has their own set of plans, yet they are all working as a group.

“We are here to join hands and educate the industry about using all the inventory that is left before the Jan 2014 date,” said Gyorda. “Each manufacturer has a set of transition dates.” 

According to Sheridan, since the training curriculum and communication efforts are well underway for a January 2013 kick-off, the cut-off for considering new members of the consortium is Dec. 1, 2012.

Contractor magazine began to cover the Get The Lead Out Plumbing Consortium in the November issue. Click here to read a recent article about the consortium.

Members of the consortium include American Society of Plumbing Engineers, American Supply Association, International Association of Plumbing and Mechanical Officials, International Code Council, Legend Valve, Milwaukee Valve, NIBCO Inc., Plumbing-Heating-Cooling-Contractors — National Association, PHCC Educational Foundation, Plumbing Manufacturers International, Reliance Worldwide, Viega LLC, and Watts Water Technologies.