The federal Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) is destined for changes attributable to hard times in Flint, MI, and the agreement from an EPA advisory council that lessons must be learned from the latest crisis.
The good people of Flint, MI, can’t catch a break. Following a bout with disinfection byproducts last year, water consumers have since been exposed to lead and copper contamination. Such issues draw plenty of attention, striking right at the heart of the ‘value of water’ and the public outcry that arises when the water supply is compromised. And while the water industry is continually trying to head off problems before they escalate into public health crises, sometimes the solution is reactive rather than proactive. High-profile failures and dangerous repercussions tend to get results, and this time will likely prompt changes to a major rule for drinking water systems.
On Nov. 18, Rep. Dan Kildee (D-MI) testified before the U.S. EPA’s National Drinking Water Advisory Council (NDWAC), calling for revisions to the federal Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) that, in hindsight, might have prevented the Flint contamination event. Flint changed its drinking water source from Lake Huron to the Flint River in April 2014, and the chemical composition of the new source accelerated corrosion in the pipeline, thus releasing lead into the distribution system. Kildee, a Flint native, spoke in support of recommendations made by the Lead and Copper Rule Working Group (LCRWG) to add specific protocols and fail-safes to the existing LCR that would protect other communities from (some of) what Flint has had to endure. The NDWAC agreed, and approved the recommendations as part of its own advisory to the EPA for long-term LCR revisions.
Here are the new stipulations, detailed in the Report of the Lead and Copper Rule Working Group to the National Drinking Water Advisory Council:
Source: Report of the Lead and Copper Working Group to the National Drinking Water Advisory Council (Credit: LCRWG)
It’s been said to ‘never let a crisis go to waste.’ Although Flint's water woes are unwelcome and upsetting, the end result may be safer water across the U.S. for generations to come.