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U.S.EPA Seeks Public Comments for Lead and Copper Rule Revisions

Posted on July 15, 2021 by
no-lead-in-safe-clean-drinking-water

In June, the Biden administration delayed the implementation of the Trump Administration’s federal lead and copper rule (LCR) until December 2021 to seek additional public comments and potentially revise the Trump Administration’s LCR. Along with the delay, the U.S. EPA launched a public commenting period, holding roundtable discussions in 10 locations across the U.S. They are also seeking public comments until July 30, 2021

While sign-on letters and action alerts are great, individual comments are more impactful and decision-makers look at these comments more than an action alert and sometimes a sign-on letter. Due to this and that the U.S. EPA is asking individuals to submit comments through a specific online portal, we are asking you to take a few minutes and use the talking points below to craft and submit your individual comments by going to https://www.regulations.gov/commenton/EPA-HQ-OW-2021-0255-0001

If you have any questions on LCR or the comment period, please email Jill Ryan, Executive Director at jill@freshwaterfuture.org. If you do submit comments, please let us know by emailing alana@freshwaterfuture.org so we may track how many people comment. Thank you.


TALKING POINTS
 

The American Medical Association and CDC have determined there is no safe level of lead in humans. Any standard put into place must be a health-based standard, which would be 0 ug/l. 

The proposed rule requires Consumer Confidence Reports (CCR) to tell customers how much lead is in the drinking water system servicing their house and where they can find the lead service line inventory. The CCR should also include information for customers about how to protect themselves from lead-in water if lead is above 0 ug/l, as well as an explanation of the proposed action level of 10 ug/l and exceedance level of 15 ug/l, particularly that these are not health-based levels, but for system corrosion control. This allows customers to make informed decisions about how they want to protect themselves from lead-in water.  

The proposed rule does not go far enough to protect students’ drinking water. For schools connected to public water systems, the proposed rule only requires elementary schools and daycares to test once every 5 years and secondary schools are only by request. Schools are informed about how to protect students through flushing and other mechanisms, but there is no requirement for the schools to do flushing, etc. For schools that own and operate their water system, the proposed rule requires the school to sample more frequently, but these schools are not necessarily equipped to interpret the results or address the changes necessary to protect students. Given that our next generation spends so much time at school, there should be stronger requirements for sampling and monitoring of all schools and daycares. If a school does have an exceedance, the school or daycare should be required to use filter stations, and those schools in impoverished communities should be given filter stations at no cost to the school or residents. Filters should be used until all fixtures and service lines are replaced and the water has been resampled and deemed to have no lead in the water. 

All lead service lines should be replaced, including public and private lead service lines, as well as those private and public lines servicing schools within 10 years. 

  • According to the AASA, The School Superintendents Association, if lead service line replacement is done correctly for all schools and daycares, special education costs associated with addressing the effects of lead on childhood development would be reduced and national student achievement would improve.

The rule should require any community, regardless of size, to replace their lead service lines and if that community is impoverished, grants be provided to replace the lead services lines. The proposed revisions allow small water systems serving less than 10,000 people, too much flexibility.  The proposed rule allows these small systems to either install or adjust corrosion control treatment, install and maintain point-of-use services like filters, replace all lead bearing plumbing, or replace lead service lines in 15 years, and once the system starts they cannot stop replacing the lines. Rather than giving this much flexibility, the end goal should be to replace all the lead service lines. 

Standardize language used by utilities to inform customers of the health impacts to children, pregnant women, and adults when lead in water reaches the action level of 10 ug/l or 15 ug/l exceedance level should be included in the CCR, even if below the action or exceedance level to allow customers to make informed decisions about how they may want to protect themselves if there is lead in their water. 

If the utilities are going to invest in inventorying service lines, utilities should make note of the materials of all the water service lines. 

The USEPA should collect data from the water utilities annually and make this publicly available in a centralized database. At least, the following data should be collected:

  • How many lead service lines, both private and public. The first annual report to the USEPA should include material makeup of the rest of the water service lines, but would not be required unless the line is replaced with a different material in subsequent years;  
  • How many public and private lead lines were replaced, the address of the replacement, and the material of the line replaced with; 
  • How many public and private lead service lines are left to replace; 
  • Details about rates are rising as a result of the lead service line replacement; and 
  • Number of customers that have gone into arrears due to the replacement of the line. 

@FreshwaterFutur

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