Since its 1991 publication, the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) has undergone several revisions, adapting provisions and guidelines to control lead and copper levels in drinking water. Below, we discuss key points and limitations of LCR, revisions that address limitations and how to comply with EPA rules and replace lead service lines in your community.
Plumbing lines are the primary path of drinking water contamination by heavy metals like lead and copper. Because exposure can cause a range of health problems, the LCR mandates that water systems monitor drinking water at customer taps to detect contamination.
A water system's action level measures the efficacy of corrosion control treatment, which is the preferred method of controlling lead in drinking water. Corrosion control involves chemically treating water to reduce corrosion and immobilize lead. If customer water samples reflect action-level exceedances of lead and copper, water systems must act to reduce the public threat of exposure.
With an action level exceedance of 15 parts per billion for lead or 1.3 parts per million for copper in more than 10% of customer samples, water systems must take additional action to control corrosion.
This chart uses information from Milwaukee, Wisconsin to illustrate the vast difference in concentration levels of each contaminant (shown as ppm).
10% of population: 56,933
Copper levels are measured in milligrams (mg) per
liter to calculate concentration as parts per million (ppm).
The LCR's limitations expose children and communities to risks of irreversible, life-long health issues from drinking water contaminated with lead. The sections under revision include:
The table below details some key revisions to the LCRI and their implications.
Revisions to EPA Lead and Copper Rule
|Employ science-based testing.||
|Establish trigger levels.||
| Encourage more complete
lead service line replacements.
|Mandate testing in elementary
schools and childcare facilities.
|Publicize lead service line locations.||
For municipalities, lead and copper rule revisions are designed to help identify the most at-risk communities and encourage more lead pipe replacement initiatives with the help of federal funds. Partnering with an experienced team of water engineers can make it easier for communities to navigate this process.
At Fehr Graham, we have helped communities secure more than $30 million in lead service line replacement funding and have replaced more than 2,000 service lines for municipalities. Our team of experienced water engineers is committed to upgrading aging water infrastructure through federal funding, investigating lead service line locations and developing plans for lead service line replacement to ensure access to quality drinking water in communities across the Midwest and beyond.