Lead Drinking Water Rule Update Coming Soon
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (“USEPA”) Administrator, Andrew Wheeler, iterated his beliefs that water quality issues are the most important threats to human health right now, outweighing those posed by climate change. USEPA plans to complete revisions to its Lead and Copper Rule in summer 2019. One goal of the revisions will be to replace every lead pipe service line in the U.S. within 20 to 30 years.
The Lead and Copper Rule has not been updated in over two decades. Wheeler has been working on this initiative since before he took over as Administrator, and he slowed down the process to make sure the final rule mandates the most corrosive lead pipe service lines are replaced first.
There is currently no map of lead pipe service lines in the U.S., so USEPA has to first complete the map, and the second priority will be to implement ways to model and monitor drinking water systems. At the end of March 2019, Wheeler announced that there would be a new round of Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act funding with priority given to projects focused on water reuse and recycling, lead exposure, emerging contaminants and updating aging infrastructure. This funding, along with private capital and other funding sources, could be as much as $12 billion for future water infrastructure investment.