On December 6, 2023, EPA published a proposal to revise the National Primary Drinking Water Regulation for lead and copper under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The proposal would apply to public water systems, including community water systems and non-transient, non-community water systems, and would require affected systems to replace all lead service lines and certain galvanized service lines within ten years. As part of this effort, EPA would require affected systems to track lead connectors in their inventories and replace them whenever encountered. EPA is also proposing to lower the lead action level to 10 parts per billion (or 10 µg/L) and would require systems that exceed the lead action level three or more times in a five-year period to take certain actions to provide public education and make water filters available to consumers. In addition, EPA is proposing to update its tap water sampling protocol to require affected systems to collect first-liter and fifth-liter samples at sites with lead service lines or lead premise plumbing.
EPA estimates the proposed rule would cost between $2.1 billion and $3.6 billion per year, primarily associated with identifying and replacing lead service lines. As part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s whole-of-government approach to address lead in drinking water, paint, and other media, the federal government has made significant funding available to meet the proposal’s compliance obligations, including under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund, and the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act. The proposal is also part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Justice40 commitment that forty percent of the benefits of federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities.
EPA will accept public comments on the proposed rule until February 5, 2024. EPA anticipates issuing the final rule by October 2024. We will continue to provide updates on this pending rule at the Corporate Environmental Lawyer blog.