EPA Releases Revisions to Lead and Copper Rule for Drinking Water

On Tuesday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule, which is meant to protect children from harmful substances in their drinking water. Aspects of the rule include testing to find sources of lead in drinking water, mitigating earlier and more frequently, replacing lead service lines, and testing in schools and child care facilities. 

According to the EPA’s website, the new rule “better protects children and communities from the risks of lead exposure by better protecting children at schools and child care facilities, getting the lead out of our nation’s drinking water, and empowering communities through information.” 

A press release from the EPA reported that lead from older water lines and in older buildings can reach tap water and become a source of lead exposure and cause negative lifelong health impacts to children.  Under the previous rule, 48 months could pass before corrosion control was put in place after the action levels were exceeded. 

“This new Lead and Copper Rule will protect children and families from exposure to lead in drinking water,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in the press release. “For the first time in nearly thirty years, this action incorporates best practices and strengthens every aspect of the rule, including closing loopholes, accelerating the real world pace of lead service line replacement, and ensuring that lead pipes will be replaced in their entirety.”

The EPA explained that this action “strengthens every aspect of the LCR (Lead and Copper Rule) and accelerates actions that reduce lead in drinking water to better protect children from lead exposure.”  This is the first major update to the rule in almost 30 years, however, the release said that there has been “tremendous progress in lowering children’s blood lead levels by phasing lead out of gasoline (and) banning lead paint.” 

One notable instance of lead in drinking water is known as the Flint Water Crisis, currently injured children are involved in a lawsuit against the city and other entities in the Eastern District of Michigan seeking damages to address medical effects of high levels of lead in the city’s drinking water.