Hardware store owners say a federal safe drinking water regulation that will soon take effect means higher prices for some plumbing materials and supplies.
The new regulation which takes effect Jan. 4 requires all products that come in contact with drinking water to have a maximum lead content of 0.25 percent. It includes every component of water distribution and treatment, from the filtration plant to plumbing fixtures.
"I have no idea how they're going to enforce this," said Paul Wippler, who owns Czarnetzki Hardware Hank in Sauk Rapids. "From our end, our wholesalers started shifting over a year ago to lead-free fittings and faucets. It's crazy. It extends to aerators on kitchen sinks — everything."
A faucet aerator, for example, that now costs $2.49 will cost $5.99 once the new lead-free products are required, said Wippler.
"The consumer won't know anything different," Wippler tells the St. Cloud Times. "On most shelves, especially in this area, the dealers have already got lead-free stuff. The consumer might see a higher sticker price, but they're not going to have a choice."
He says wholesalers started shifting to lead-free fittings and faucets about a year ago. But, after Jan. 4, consumers won't be able to choose the cheaper product.
Retailers can continue to sell their existing stock of plumbing fixtures and supplies until Jan. 4.