Sep 29, 2020

EPA Prepares Lead & Copper Rule Update

lead and copper rule

The U.S. EPA is preparing a policy change that will be pitched ahead of Election Day.

A draft of the final rule obtained by The New York Times shows the EPA rejected top medical and scientific experts who urged the agency to require the replacement of the country’s six million to 10 million lead service lines, however, reported The New York Times.

The measure is the first major update in nearly three decades to the 1991 Lead and Copper Rule. 

“The rule will better identify high levels of lead, improve the reliability of lead tap sampling results, strengthen corrosion control treatment requirements, expand consumer awareness and improve risk communication,” said the draft from mid-July.

According to Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the changes are “sorely disappointing.” 

James Hewitt, a spokesman for the EPA, said in a statement that it is “premature to draw any conclusions on a rule that is still undergoing interagency review.” 

The EPA said the updated version of the Lead and Copper Rule will identify the most at-risk communities and make sure that communities have in place plans to reduce elevated levels of lead, according to The New York Times.

Schools and child care centers would be required to notify those who use their facilities of elevated lead levels within 24 hours of testing rather than the current 30 days. The updated rule would also require water utilities to conduct inventories of their lead service pipes and publicly report the locations as well.

Under the old rule, utilities had to replace some of their lead service lines if they repeatedly tested above the EPAs action level of 15 ppb. They were given about 14 years for the full replacement then, but the new rule will give them approximately 33 years to fully replace the service lines.

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