EPA proposes new Lead and Copper Rule Improvements

Dec. 1, 2023
The agency’s latest proposal to expand Lead and Copper Rule requirements will lower the Lead Action Level, aspire to 100% lead pipe replacement within 10 years and much more.

The U.S. EPA has announced a proposal to expand the requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule, requiring water systems across the country to replace lead service lines within 10 years.

The proposed Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI) include the following key provisions:

  • Achieving 100% Lead Pipe Replacement within 10 years
    The proposed rule would require a majority of water systems to replace their lead service lines within 10 years.
  • Locating legacy lead pipes
    The proposed LCRI would require all water systems to regularly update their inventories, create a publicly available service line replacement plan and identify the materials of all service lines of unknown material.
  • Improving tap sampling
    The proposed rule would change tap sampling protocols at the local and state level. Systems would collect first liter and fifth liter samples at sites with lead service lines, using the higher of the two values to determine compliance.
  • Lowering the Lead Action Level
    The rule proposes to lower the lead action level from 15 micrograms per liter (parts per billion) to 10 micrograms per liter.
  • Strengthening protections to reduce exposure
    Under the rule, water systems with multiple lead action level exceedances would need to conduct additional outreach to consumers and provide filters certified to reduce lead to all consumers.

The proposal would also require water systems to communicate more frequently and proactively with consumers about lead service lines and the system’s plans for replacing the lines.

“EPA’s proposed Lead and Copper rule is grounded in the best available science and successful practices utilized by drinking water systems to protect children and adults from lead in drinking water,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “Cities like Newark, New Jersey, Benton Harbor, Michigan and Green Bay, Wisconsin, have all successfully gotten the lead out of their water systems. Our proposed rule applies the lessons learned to scale these successes to every corner of the country.”

Once the proposed rule is published in the Federal Register, EPA will accept comments for 60 days. The agency will also hold a virtual public hearing on January 16, 2024, at which time the public will be invited to provide EPA with verbal comments.

More information about the proposed rule, including a pre-publication version of the proposal, fact sheets and directions for submitting comment and registering for the public hearing, is available on the proposed rule webpage.