In December 2021, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced finalization of the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR). The LCRR is an update to the previous Lead and Copper Rule provisions, with a renewed focus on better protecting communities from exposure to lead in drinking water. These revisions signal the start of a nationwide effort to eliminate the use of Lead Service Lines (LSLs) within our drinking water systems. This will require that an inventory of all LSLs for replacement be completed prior to October 16, 2024. The EPA also announced that it will continue to further improve the revised rule by developing an enhanced rule with the forthcoming Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI) prior to the October 2024 deadline. Funds provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL), similar legislation, and other funding programs will be made available to aid water utilities in completing these required changes within their systems.

Lead Service Line Inventories & Replacement Plans

Two major aspects of the LCRR are the Lead Service Line Inventories and Replacement Plans. These plans work in conjunction to achieve the goal of removal of 100% of LSLs. These plans require water utilities to make inventory of their existing LSLs and move to replace them. Due to the nature of the LCRR, partial replacements do not suffice and the whole line must be replaced, impacting private property connections in some instances. In addition, “unknown” service lines must be treated as if they are lead. There are around 6 million LSLs in the U.S., most of which are in the Midwest and New England areas. These two regions comprise about 70% of all lines.

Possible Additional Requirements

It was also announced that the EPA would continue to review and revise the LCRR before the October 2024 compliance deadline. Possible key areas include:

  • Replacing all LSLs as quickly as possible
  • Strengthened compliance tap sampling
  • Reducing the complexity of the action and trigger levels
  • Focusing on underserved communities

Due to the ongoing revisions, the EPA anticipates possible delays to the compliance date for LSL replacement plans and tap sampling plans.

Funding Opportunities

These projects have many different sources of funding available including the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the BIL, and the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF). This includes $15 billion to be distributed in five allotments through the BIL ($2.9 billion of which is for 2022), as well as an additional $11.7 billion through the DWSRF program. The EPA has committed to serve historically disadvantaged communities by informing them of the availability of funding, providing case studies of successful removal, and providing technical assistance.

Wright-Pierce has been providing solutions for compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule regulations to water utilities for decades. If you’d like technical assistance with these new requirements or further information regarding availability of funding your projects, we can help. Please contact us to learn more.