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An Environmental Protection Agency Proposal Includes  
Replacement of All Lead Service Lines in Drinking Water Systems 

Washington DCThe U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) today proposed a new round of revisions to the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) regulation meant to reduce lead in drinking water. The Lead and Copper Rule Improvements proposal includes a requirement for full replacement of all lead service lines in regulated drinking water systems. This provision has been a core objective of Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund’s work on this issue.  

“We have consistently urged EPA to take decisive action to put lead service lines behind us - both to eliminate this largest source of lead in drinking water where lead service lines are present and to avoid a disproportionate impact on certain people and communities,” said Lynn Thorp, Clean Water’s National Campaigns Director. “The Lead and Copper Rule Improvements proposal is an important contribution to fulfilling the commitments to reduce lead hazards and protect public health in the Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan.” 

Despite momentum around lead service line replacement in communities nationwide, without a clear mandate, people will consume drinking water distributed through pipes containing lead for decades to come. Under EPA’s proposal, the vast majority of lead service lines, which bring water from the large water main into the home or building, will be replaced within ten years of the new regulation’s implementation. The effort will be supported by $15 billion in targeted funding made possible by the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.   

Challenges remain, including ensuring state agencies implementing the SDWA have the resources they need to conduct proper oversight of all aspects of the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements, including completion of lead service line inventories by drinking water systems. In addition, the common practice of requiring customers to contribute to the cost of full replacement has been demonstrated to disproportionately impact low-income households and people of color.

“The same whole-of-government approach that has led to this significant action around lead service line replacement is needed to help communities identify strategies to avoid the unfair and inefficient practice of relying on customer contributions to the cost of this essential improvement,” said Lynn Thorp

EPA’s proposal includes revisions to other aspects of the complex SDWA Lead and Copper Rule, including reducing the Lead Action Level to 10 parts per billion (ppb) and modernizing sampling requirements to better reflect existing knowledge about how lead moves through lead service lines into the building or home. Clean Water Action and Clean Water Fund will provide technical input to EPA and facilitate participation by allies and the public during the 60 -day comment period that will open upon publication of the proposal in the Federal Register.  

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