From The Editor | January 29, 2020

LCR Revisions: Speak Now, Or Forever Hold Your Peace

Pete Antoniewicz

By Pete Antoniewicz


As of January 24, less than three weeks from the close of the U.S. EPA’s Lead and Copper Rule Revision (LCRR) comment period, the associated comments webpage had logged just over 2,500 responses and displayed only 131 public comments at the bottom of that page. Some of the earliest comments were merely to request an extension to the original 60-day comment period, which has now been extended to February 12th at 11:59 PM Eastern Time.

If you are not fully ready to implement the scores of changes spelled out in the side-by-side comparison of the agency’s Reference Guide for Public Water Systems Lead and Copper Rule Proposal Comparison, you have only days to register your concerns.

The complete LCRR document is available as a PDF-file download from website under Docket ID: EPA-HQ-OW-2017-0300-0001. Public submissions posted to date can be viewed at this LCRR review page and interested parties can register their own comments — including file attachments — at this associated EPA response page.

Gain Greater Perspective

For utilities and decision-makers who are behind the curve on the LCRR effort, the EPA’s overview webpage devoted to Proposed Revisions to the LCR offers several good starting points, including:

  • Overview Materials. Get up to speed with multiple links to background information on the problems of lead in drinking water, understanding the original Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), and strategic plans for targeted outreach to populations affected by lead.
  • A Link To FAQs. This Q&A overview page answers 11 major questions about the new LCRR proposal, including changes in tap sampling instructions and tap sampling tiering requirements.
  • An Itemized Comparison Between Current And Proposed LCR Requirements. Perhaps the most helpful resource for informing water treatment and distribution operators on the ins and outs of the new LCRR is the Lead and Copper Rule Proposal Comparison for public water utilities. It includes side-by-side comparisons of current vs. proposed requirements that:
  • highlight the increased urgency on identifying impacted customers and identifying/replacing lead service lines (LSLs),
  • outline broader responsibilities at the current lead action level of 15 µg/L,
  • list added responsibilities at a new 10 µg/L trigger level,
  • introduce an entirely new focus on testing school and childcare facilities,
  • spell out requirements for 24-hour notification and public education to customers whose homes test above the 15 µg/L level, and
  • address alternatives for small community water systems (CWS) (< 10,000 people) among other requirements.

Read What Others Have Said

Comments submitted to date range from very generic to very detailed. Multiple early comments addressed concern over the shortness of the original 60-day comment period, which lead to a 30-day extension. Some consumer responses offer generic praise for the increased focus on problems of lead in water or pose concerns about pollution issues beyond the bounds of the proposed LCRR. Industry-participant comments take much more detailed views — positive and negative — on very specific aspects of the proposed LCRR standards. They include some thought-provoking concerns ranging from the logistics of reducing lead exposure in real-world scenarios, to financing issues, to orthophosphate corrosion control treatment (CCT) impacts relative to wastewater treatment/ discharge.

Let Your Voice Be Heard, Too

While the intent behind the proposed LCRR has the worthy goal of mitigating the public health hazards of lead in drinking water, the logistics of achieving that goal will be more challenging for some communities than others.

With such a major undertaking, there are certain to be some utilities, and some utility customers, that fall short of ideal conditions — whether due to aging infrastructure, funding limitations, or issues of problematic infrastructure on private vs. public land. Commenting does not indicate resistance toward the goals of healthier drinking water. On the contrary, it can actually help to focus attention on changes in the strategies and in the types of assistance needed to achieve that goal.

What is your utility’s planned response to the proposed LCRR? Have you had the time to evaluate the impacts fully and started planning your implementation? Or does your utility plan to learn on the fly? Is there a specific aspect of technical concern or financial concern? Are there genuine concerns about a likelihood of non-compliance?

Remember These Ground Rules For Posting

In order for comments to be accepted and have the maximum impact, review these tips for submitting effective comments and pay attention to the ground rules for posting to the LCRR comments webpage. Multimedia submissions (audio, video, etc.) must be accompanied by a written comment that will be considered as the official comment, so that comment should include all points the submitting party wishes to make.

Also, note that all personal information included in the body of the submission will be made available in its entirety for in-person viewing at the EPA Docket Center’s Public Reading Room, with several exceptions:

  • For comments that are deemed to be duplicates or near duplicates, only a representative sample will be listed, along with a count of the number of duplicates submitted.
  • Comments containing threatening language or profanity will be rejected without notice from the EPA.
  • Respondents posting copyrighted material must provide proof of their explicit right to redistribute that material, or the entire comment will be blocked from online viewing.