On December 16, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began implementing the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) developed under the previous administration. The agency announced its intent to issue a new proposed rule, the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements, following a review of the LCRR under Executive Order 13990. As EPA develops guidance for the LCRR, the lead service line inventory will be crucial to solving this issue. The administration announced its Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, which includes measures to expand eligible uses under the State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds to include other methods of lead remediation in drinking water. Counties are committed to working with our federal and state partners to ensure that all residents have access to clean drinking water and a safe environment.
While the EPA acknowledges advancements in the LCRR to address lead contamination, it announced a proposed rulemaking that will build on the rule’s provisions. The LCRR aims to address and replace lead pipes in communities across the nation by the first compliance deadline of October 16, 2024. The rule calls for testing protocols for lead in drinking water, establishing a trigger level for earlier mitigation, complete service line replacements, testing in schools and facilities, and requiring water systems to identify and publicize the location of lead service lines. EPA’s focus areas for the proposed rulemaking are:
- Replacing all lead service lines;
- Compliance tap sampling;
- Action and trigger levels; and
- Prioritizing historically underserved communities.
The bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes $2.9 billion in FY 2022 to replace lead service lines and $15 billion overall. Counties play an essential role in building and maintaining America’s water infrastructure and invest more than $134 billion overall in infrastructure per year. In addition, more than 70 percent of counties invest in storm sewer systems. Counties regularly address water infrastructure needs, have the responsibility to provide water services and have the authority to own and operate drinking water systems.