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.
The rule sets compliance deadlines beginning in 2024. 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. EPA also announced that it proposes to extend to effective date of the LCR until December 16, 2021 with a corresponding extension of the revised LCR’s compliance deadline to September 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.
Key requirements of note in the new rule include the following: