On January 15, 2021, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) published revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) – the federal regulation designed to control lead and copper in drinking water. The agency proposed revisions a year earlier. The LCR requirements, originally established in 1991, apply to community water systems (public water systems that supply water to the same community year-round); non-transient, non-community water systems and state and tribal agencies responsible for drinking water regulatory development and enforcement.
While individual states may incorporate additional requirements that impact implementation, they cannot make the LCR less stringent than the final rule. The LCR revisions were finalized in the closing days of the last presidential administration. The rule has been contested in court (petitions for review have been filed) and the current administration took action on March 10, 2021 to extend the effective date of the revised LCR at least until June 17, 2021 to undertake a review of the rule. On December 16, 2021, EPA announced that the LCR revisions would go into effect with a compliance date of October 16, 2024. EPA will, simultaneously, work on developing a new rule, the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI), to address identified issues. The agency expects to finalize the LCRI before October 16, 2024.
Eighteen of the Collaborative’s 27 members submitted comments on the proposed rule requesting a wide array of major and minor changes to the proposal, illustrating how this rulemaking is perceived as an opportunity to advance lead service line (LSL) replacement. The Collaborative does not advocate or take a position on the LCR. Rather it is focused on helping its members and their constituents leverage the changes in the LCR revisions to further that shared goal. Therefore, it is important to understand the new LCR requirements related to LSLs and the opportunities they present.
The content below is based on the current LCR. This information will be updated as the rule continues to be updated.
Go to: Roles for Public Health in Advancing LSL Replacement under EPA’s
Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR).
Key requirements of note include the following:
As with any regulation, understanding definitions and terms of art relevant to the regulation are necessary to fully understand the requirements.
See Key Terms for a layperson’s introduction to some key terms necessary to understand the LCR Revisions.