On March 12, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) issued a delay of the March 16 effective date of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). The LCR was finalized on January 15 and is now scheduled to go into effect on June 17. The purpose of the delay is to allow EPA to provide a public comment period to receive input on a potential longer extension of the effective date and to further review the rule that was finalized under the Trump Administration. The LCR has not received major updates since 1991, and aims to reduce lead in the nation’s drinking water.
The EPA first released its proposed LCR in October 2019. NACo joined the National League of Cities (NLC) and the U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) in submitting comments on the proposed rule. The final rule requires local utilities to identify lead service lines and sets action levels for removing those service lines. The agency estimates there are 6 to 10 million lead service lines through out the country. The final rule would provide about 33 years for utilities to replace all lead service lines.
Counties have a direct interest in federal water regulations. Many counties have the responsibility to provide water services and have the authority to own and operate drinking water systems. In February 2020, NACo testified before a U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee hearing on the EPA’s proposed LCR. Accessibility to a reliable supply of clean water is vital to our nation, and counties stand ready to work with our federal partners to ensure every American has access to clean drinking water.