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EPA/OW RIN: 2040-AF15 Publication ID: Fall 2017 
Title: National Primary Drinking Water Regulations for Lead and Copper: Regulatory Revisions 
Abstract:

The Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) reduces risks to drinking water consumers from lead and copper that can enter drinking water as a result of corrosion of plumbing materials. The LCR requires water systems to sample at taps in homes with leaded plumbing materials. Depending upon the sampling results, water systems must take actions to reduce exposure to lead and copper including corrosion control treatment, public education and lead service line replacement. The LCR was promulgated in 1991 and, overall, has been effective in reducing the levels of lead and copper in drinking water systems across the country. However, lead crises in Washington, DC, and in Flint, Michigan, and the subsequent national attention focused on lead in drinking water in other communities, have underscored significant challenges in the implementation of the current rule, including a rule structure that, for many systems, only compels protective actions after public health threats have been identified. Key challenges include the rule's complexity; the degree of flexibility and discretion it affords systems and primacy states with regard to optimization of corrosion control treatment; compliance sampling practices, which in some cases, may not adequately protect from lead exposure; and limited specific focus on key areas of concern such as schools. There is a compelling need to modernize and strengthen implementation of the rule - to strengthen its public health protections and to clarify its implementation requirements to make it more effective and more readily enforceable. EPA is evaluating the costs and benefits of the potential revisions and assessing whether the benefits justify the costs.

 
Agency: Environmental Protection Agency(EPA)  Priority: Economically Significant 
RIN Status: Previously published in the Unified Agenda Agenda Stage of Rulemaking: Proposed Rule Stage 
Major: Undetermined  Unfunded Mandates: Undetermined 
EO 13771 Designation: Regulatory 
CFR Citation: 40 CFR 141    40 CFR 142   
Legal Authority: 42 U.S.C. 300f et seq Safe Drinking Water Act   
Legal Deadline:  None

Statement of Need:

The Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) reduces risks to drinking water consumers from lead and copper that can enter drinking water as a result of corrosion of plumbing materials. The LCR requires water systems to sample at taps in homes with leaded plumbing materials. Depending upon the sampling results, water systems must take actions to reduce exposure to lead and copper including corrosion control treatment, public education and lead service line replacement. The LCR was promulgated in 1991 and, overall, has been effective in reducing the levels of lead and copper in drinking water systems across the country. However, lead crises in Washington, DC, and in Flint, Michigan, and the subsequent national attention focused on lead in drinking water in other communities, have underscored significant challenges in the implementation of the current rule, including a rule structure that, for many systems, only compels protective actions after public health threats have been identified. Key challenges include the rule's complexity; the degree of flexibility and discretion it affords systems and primacy states with regard to optimization of corrosion control treatment; compliance sampling practices, which in some cases, may not adequately protect from lead exposure; and limited specific focus on key areas of concern such as schools. There is a compelling need to modernize and strengthen implementation of the rule - to strengthen its public health protections and to clarify its implementation requirements to make it more effective and more readily enforceable.

Summary of the Legal Basis:

Section 1412(b) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) (42 U.S.C. 300f et seq.) includes a general authority for EPA to establish maximum contaminant level goals (MCLGs) and national primary drinking water regulations (NPDWRs). The first NPDWR for Lead and Copper was issued in 1991 (56 FR 26460, June 7, 1991). Section 1412(b)(9) of the SDWA (42 U.S.C. 300f et seq.) requires EPA, at least every six years, to review and revise, as appropriate, each national primary drinking water regulation. Any revision of a national primary drinking water regulation must be promulgated in accordance with Section 1412, except that each revision must maintain, or provide for greater protection of the health of persons. This rulemaking will revise EPA's existing Lead and Copper Rule pursuant to Section 1412(b)(9). EPA's goal for the LCR revisions is to improve the effectiveness of public health protections while maintaining a rule that can be implemented in a cost effective manner by the 68,000 drinking water systems that are covered by the rule.

Alternatives:

TBD

Anticipated Costs and Benefits:

TBD

Risks:

Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body from drinking water or other sources. It can cause damage to the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body. The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women. Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children. Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults. Lead is stored in the bones, and it can be released later in life. During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother's bones, which may affect brain development.

Timetable:
Action Date FR Cite
NPRM  08/00/2018 
Final Rule  02/00/2020 
Regulatory Flexibility Analysis Required: Undetermined  Government Levels Affected: Undetermined 
Federalism: Undetermined 
Included in the Regulatory Plan: Yes 
RIN Information URL: http://water.epa.gov/lawsregs/rulesregs/sdwa/lcr/index.cfm  
Sectors Affected: 221310 Water Supply and Irrigation Systems; 924110 Administration of Air and Water Resource and Solid Waste Management Programs 
RIN Data Printed in the FR: No 
Agency Contact:
Jeffrey Kempic
Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Water
4607M,
Washington, DC 20460
Phone:202 564-4880
Email: kempic.jeffrey@epa.gov

Lisa Christ
Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Water
1200 Pennsylvania Avenue NW,
Washington, DC 20460
Phone:202 564-8354
Email: christ.lisa@epa.gov