It’s coming and supply houses need to be prepared.
On Jan. 4, 2014 theReduction of Lead in Drinking Water Actwill become federal law. The new law was signed by President Obama in 2011 and sets lower standards for the amount of lead permissible in plumbing products that provide potable (drinkable) water.
The law lowers the levels of lead in wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings and fixtures to a weighted average of not more than 0.25%. The law mirrors legislation already in effect in California, Vermont and Maryland. On Jan. 1, 2013, Louisiana will implement the law.
How does this affect supply houses? It will be illegal for wholesalers to sell any products not meeting these new standards. Also, it will be illegal for contractors to install old products that do not meet the new criteria. The United States Environmental Protection Agency is tasked with implementing the law, but states will be in charge of the law’s enforcement. Failure to comply could result in major fines and/or lawsuits.
ProSource Plumbing SupplyfounderGrover Martinsays he’s “extremely” worried about how much stock his company will have on hand when the law is implemented. ProSource has made the conscious decision to be as proactive as possible to clear the shelves before January 2014.
“You have to get on it right now,” Martin says. “It’s going to be huge.”
ProSource sent a letter to all its customers explaining the law and how it will affect them. Martin says some contractors “aren’t even aware of the law” coming into play.
Recently, ProSource held a tent sale and sold $25,000 worth of leaded product, but Martin estimates the company took an $8,000 to $9,000 loss.
“You can’t wait,” Martin says. “Whatever losses you take, it won’t be nearly as bad as it will be in 2014 with potential fines.”
Manufacturers such as American Valve have worked with wholesalers in states where no-lead legislation already is in place. American Valve CEO Seth Guterman stresses a strong working relationship with the wholesaler and the manufacturer is key in this situation.
“We’ve worked through transitions in California, Vermont and Maryland by first helping to identify which products are affected by the laws and replacing them with lead-free alternatives,” he says.
Legend Valve created www.legendnolead.com as a helpful tool for wholesalers to use during the transition phase. The website features a “Days Left Before the National No Lead Plumbing Law” ticker, a pricing list of compliant products and more information on the law.
“The intent of the website is to be the no-lead resource for our customers and contractors alike,” Legend Valve Marketing Manager Brian Graves says. “Meanwhile, we have been training our representatives on understanding the requirements of the law.”
BrassCraft Vice President of Marketing and Product Development Jeff Jollay says the company has been, and will continue to be, aggressive in helping its customers be in the best possible shape as the deadline approaches.
“Monthly ads and public relations announcements have been in place since last year,” he says. “Our wholesale customers and the plumbing community at large expect us to have the right solutions in a timely fashion for this industry-changing event.”
A go-to sourceBrassCraft and Legend Valve are two of six manufacturers that joined the Get the Lead Out Consortium. Other manufacturers in the consortium include Milwaukee Valve, NIBCO, Reliance Worldwide, Viega and Watts Water Technologies. The rest of the consortium is filled out by representatives of American Supply Association, ASPE, IAPMO, ICC, PHCC, the PHCC Educational Foundation and Plumbing Manufacturers International.
The consortium held a press conference Nov. 9 atPMIheadquarters in Rolling Meadows, Ill., to state its message of education and assistance for wholesalers, manufacturers and contractors.
Roger Peugeot, vice chair of thePHCC Educational Foundationand owner ofRoger the Plumberin Kansas City, Mo., says the consortium will take its message on the road including going to major wholesaler events.
“There will be an opportunity for two or three manufacturers to be involved in some of the training that goes on at the wholesale level,” he says.
Watts Water TechnologiesDirector of MarketingGreg Gyordaadds that on the micro-level each manufacturer has made its own plans on how to get plumbing wholesalers up to speed, but the consortium is drafting its own guidelines on the macro-level for the industry.
“We’ve come together to create a common message and a common set of educational tools to provide the industry to ensure we’re all moving together to flush out that inventory in a timely matter,” he says. “We have to be consistent in our efforts to flush out this inventory.”
“There are quite a few guys that have significant stock on hand and are worried about that hard deadline and having stock they can’t sell,” he says. “They could be stuck with it.”
Boca Raton, Fla.-basedStan Segalcreated the newFLO n STOPwireless water shutoff system and was awarded NSF 61 Annex G certification for its lead-free brass solenoid valve.
Segal says the new law did make FLO n STOP adjust its manufacturing process and added cost, but in the end he believes the positives outweigh the negatives.
“At times it’s far-reaching and expensive, but ultimately I think it will help the environment and safe-guard people’s health,” he says. “Having lead-free brass is quite expensive. The machinery of the parts is expensive. But having lead in our consumable products is a dangerous situation and this is a step in the right direction.”