The Environmental Protection Agency plans to tighten its rules on lead in drinking water, but the proposal has more to do with monitoring requirements placed upon public water utilities.

The most notable change related to our industry would be the requirement to re-evaluate lead service lines. Many have previously been identified as low risk after any major treatment changes that could affect corrosion control. Current regulation allows utilities to consider lead service lines that test below the action levels for lead as “replaced” for the purposes of compliance. Under certain circumstances, however, all previously “tested-out” service lines would have to be tested again or added back into the sampling pool the utilities use to test for lead and other contaminants.

In addition, the EPA's proposal would require that water utilities notify homeowners or business owners of the results of any lead testing, if their properties are part of the utility's sampling program. Although many utilities already do this, there is currently no regulation that requires them to do so.

Among other proposals are the following:

  • Revise monitoring requirement to ensure that water samples show how effective lead controls are.

  • Clarify the timing of sample collection and tighten criteria for reducing the frequency of monitoring.

  • Require that utilities receive state approval of treatment changes so that states can provide direction or require additional monitoring.