New Lead and Copper Regulations

November 15, 2019 | Andrew Marsh

The proposed Lead and Copper Regulations (LCR) focus on identifying the most at-risk communities and ensure community water systems have plans in place to reduce lead in drinking water.

It is estimated that there are between 6 to 10 million lead service lines in the United States. The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, and brass or bronze faucets and fixtures. However, finding where lead pipes are still used can be a challenge.

According to EPA’s October 2019 press release, under the proposed lead and copper regulations a community water system will be required to take new actions, including, but not limited to:

  1. Identifying the most impacted areas by requiring water systems to prepare and update a publicly-available inventory of lead service lines and requiring water systems to “find-and-fix” sources of lead when a sample in a home exceeds 15 parts per billion (ppb).
  2. Strengthening drinking water treatment by requiring corrosion control treatment based on tap sampling results and establishing a new trigger level of 10 ppb (e.g. trigger level outlined below).
  3. Replacing lead service lines by requiring water systems to replace the water system-owned portion of an LSL when a customer chooses to replace their portion of the line. Additionally, depending on their level above the trigger level, systems would be required to take LSL replacement actions, as described below.
  4. Increasing drinking water sampling reliability by requiring water systems to follow new, improved sampling procedures and adjust sampling sites to better target locations with higher lead levels.
  5. Improving risk communication to customers by requiring water systems to notify customers within 24 hours if a sample collected in their home is above 15 ppb. Water systems will also be required to conduct regular outreach to the homeowners with LSLs.
  6. Better protecting children in schools and childcare facilities by requiring water systems to take drinking water samples from the schools and childcare facilities served by the system.

The first step is documenting the location of lead service lines in communities. Because most of these lines exist on private property, getting property access to document existing lines becomes a challenge. Educating the public on the benefits of this documentation and teaming with local home improvement contractors are two ways proactive communities are overcoming these challenges.

lead and copper regulations

The second challenge is collecting, managing, and storing the data for each lead service line in a useable format. A GIS database can store all the information that the LCR Rules are requiring and serve to meet EPA’s requirement of a publicly-available inventory.

HR Green is already working with clients on developing a GIS database of their lead service lines (image below). This mobile form application allows Utility staff to easily collect data and photos themselves utilizing a smartphone or tablet directly syncing with the GIS database. This provides a cost-effective way for Utilities to meet the new lead and copper regulations while collecting data when time is available without having to purchase any specialized equipment. HR Green then manages the database and makes it available to all customers on a publicly-available website. In addition, the always up-to-date GIS Dashboard allows the utility to track progress and provide the EPA/DNR with real-time updates. If you need assistance with complying with the upcoming LCR regulations, please contact Mike Liska with HR Green at 319-841-4360 or another HR Green representative whom you have worked with.

Access the complete document at National Primary Drinking Water Regulations: Lead and Copper Rule Revisions.

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