3 Next Steps for EPA to Evolve the Revised Lead and Copper Rule
120Water’s recommendations to ensure continued progress in the world of drinking water safety.
Posted on June 2, 2021
Lead and Copper Rule (LCR)
Achieve LCR Compliance
LSL Inventory & Replacement
Develop your Inventory
LSL Profitability & Water Management Software
Accurately Predict LSLs
Lead Water Testing in Facilities
Simplify Sampling Processes
Keep Consumers Safe
COVID-19 Wastewater Sampling
Pinpoint Hotspots Early
The revised Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) is an important step forward in the world of water safety, bringing much-needed updates to an outdated regulation. Policy is often about making incremental change, and we are certainly moving in the right direction. However, the revised Rule is far from complete in terms of delivering safe and clean water to all residents of our communities.
The EPA opened the Rule up for a public comment period, and we were grateful for the chance to further weigh in on how to evolve LCR from a water treatment-centric policy to an outcomes-based policy–the most important outcome being to find and replace lead service lines. The crisis in Flint revealed the fundamental flaw of the original rule: Corrosion Control Treatment is not ultimately a solution we can rely on to solve the problem of leaded drinking water pipes.
The three recommendations 120Water focused on in the public comments are as follows:
The inventory should be a tool for efficiently and effectively carrying out LCR monitoring and identifying a path to replacement long term. Leaded fittings like Goosenecks as well as copper service lines with lead solder should be required in the inventory. Both provide dangerous levels of lead and require the utility to take action in various parts of the rule, such as the Tier sampling pool. The EPA should also consider requiring or encouraging environmental justice metrics in the inventory. This will give utilities a meaningful way to prioritize replacement in communities with the greatest needs. We believe these changes will save time, energy and money long term as it asks utilities to take a holistic look at lead sources in their distribution systems at one time.
Validation of lead service line inventories should be mandatory over a reasonable time span (such as 5 years). This will ensure better data quality as utility records can be unreliable and would help utilities develop “shovel ready” plans for replacement as funding becomes available.
We suggest the EPA extend the waiver to utilities in states where either an existing state regulation requires sampling, or sampling has occurred via the WIIN program. The standard should simply line up with the 3 T’s recommendation, which states that all sources of cooking and drinking water be tested. If sampling has never occurred or if it was not comprehensive enough, then a utility would need to test all cooking and drinking water sources in Elementary schools and childcare facilities under LCRR once within a 5 year period. Only testing 2-5 drinking outlets could provide facilities with a false sense of security about the water quality and requiring utilities to re-test in states that have already leveraged the WIIN program to do so is inefficient.
We are optimistic about the future of drinking water safety and regulation, and we recognize this is a team effort, bringing together regulators, water systems, and solution providers. Getting all lead out of the ground in the US is no small task, and it will require clear regulations, ample funding opportunities, dedicated water professionals, and purpose-built technology. The industry is poised for big changes, and we encourage the EPA to build on their current progress by refining and expanding existing regulations.