EPA Proposes Changes To Rules On Lead Contamination In Water

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler called the proposal "the first major overhaul of the Lead and Copper Rule in over two decades."

EPA Proposes Changes To Rules On Lead Contamination In Water
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The EPA has proposed new regulations on lead and copper in drinking water.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced the proposed updates at a news conference in Green Bay, Wisconsin on Thursday. Some of the changes include requiring water systems to test lead levels at schools and child care facilities, strengthening water treatment requirements, and improving water sampling procedures.

But some critics argue the agency's proposed changes don't go far enough. For instance, the new rules would not lower the 15 parts-per-billion limit on lead in water, and instead creates a new lead "trigger" level of 10 parts-per-billion. If a city’s water hits that new "trigger" level, it would then have to reevaluate its current treatment process or conduct a corrosion control study. The EPA says this will "enable systems to react more quickly should they exceed the 15 ppb action level in the future."

The new rules would also reduce the amount of pipes that cities would have to replace each year should lead levels in their water systems exceed 15 parts-per-billion from 7% to 3%.

The EPA’s draft plan will be open for public comment for 60 days, and Wheeler said he expects a final version will be ready by next summer.