News Feature | June 28, 2021

EPA Delays Lead and Copper Rule Revision Again, More Changes Likely

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga


After yet another delay on expected updates to the federal Lead and Copper Rule (LRC), drinking water systems across the country have been given a little more time to figure out how to comply with the new version, while consumers are forced to wait for any potential stricter limits to take effect.

“The EPA is pushing back the effective date of the Trump-era Revised Lead and Copper Rule to December from June after receiving public feedback supporting a delay for the regulation,” Bloomberg Law reported. “The Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing and expected to revise the rule (RIN 2040-AG15), which is now set to take effect on Dec. 16, according to a Federal Register public inspection notice published Tuesday.”

As Former President Trump left office, his administration attempted to update the LCR and require cities to more quickly notify consumers who may be exposed to lead in their drinking water, but delay the speed at which they need to replace outdated, lead-based infrastructure. That update was first supposed to take effect in March, but then it was delayed until June and now, until December.

For those water systems and consumers who did prepare for the revised rule to take effect at the appointed time, there were significant changes to anticipate. Drinking water treatment operations would be responsible for monitoring the levels of lead contamination in drinking water and taking action at predetermined levels, per the delayed rule revision.

“The rule creates a 10 parts per billion (ppb) ‘trigger’ level at which cities would need to reevaluate their water treatment processes and possibly add corrosion-control chemicals to city water,” according to The Hill. “But it keeps the previously set 15 ppb level that requires cities to begin replacing the nation’s lead service lines that connect homes to city water supplies — the underlying source of lead contamination.”

Though drinking water systems are doubtlessly monitoring lead levels anyway, the repeated delay of this fundamental regulation cannot make it easy to stay on top of their responsibilities. For now, those systems as well as consumers concerned with the potential contamination of lead in their drinking water will have to keep waiting for a revised version of the LCR.

To read more about how the LCR affects drinking water treatment plants, visit Water Online’s Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.