News Feature | December 29, 2017

U.S. EPA To Hear Recommendations For Changes To Lead And Copper Rule

Peter Chawaga - editor

By Peter Chawaga, Associate Editor, Water Online

lead and copper.reg

According to recent reports, one of the U.S. EPA’s fundamental regulations may be getting tweaked in the near future.

“The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said … it will seek input from state and local officials as it considers how to rework a 1991 rule meant to protect people from lead and copper contamination in drinking water,” Reuters reported. “The agency invited state officials to give input on revising the Lead and Copper rule at a two-hour meeting on Jan. 8 at the EPA’s headquarters in Washington.”

The EPA issued the Lead and Copper Rule in 1991, which tasked public systems serving more than 50,000 people with surveying their corrosion control systems and replacing pipelines with state-approved corrosion controls. It was last modified in 2007, but since then lead contamination has been found to be rampant across the country.

“Despite lead-contaminated sites being an environmental threat to our country, EPA has not updated the Lead and Copper Rule in decades,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, per the Washington Examiner. “In keeping with our commitment to cooperative federalism, EPA is seeking input from stakeholders on proposed revisions to properly address lead and ensure communities have access to safe drinking water.”

The exact direction that the rule will take is anyone’s guess, but with the recent public awareness around the dangers of lead contamination, it is likely to become stricter following any change. Though the EPA has transformed substantially under President Trump, Obama era recommendations for revision may offer a clue.

“In an October 2016 white paper, the Obama EPA laid out options for revising the rule, with options ranging from improving sampling standards that water utilities use to monitor lead levels to dramatically ramping up the standards for replacing old lead pipes,” reported The Hill. “Any revisions by the EPA are also likely to crack down on smaller uses of lead, like in pipe fittings and solder, and to increase the standards’ focus on vulnerable people like children and pregnant women.”

To read more about the Lead And Copper Rule and its applications visit Water Online’s Drinking Water Regulations And Legislation Solutions Center.

Image credit: "Federal Court Orders EPA to Move Ahead With Rule to Limit Methane,” adr1682305408 Thanh, 2017, used under an Attribution 2.0 Generic license: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/