EPA Reports on Lead in Drinking Water

Information is now available from the Environmental Protection Agency about the 90th percentile levels for lead in drinking water for 85 percent...

Information is now available from the Environmental Protection Agency about the 90th percentile levels for lead in drinking water for 85 percent of the nation's 838 water systems serving more than 50,000 people.

The data received as of April 28, 2004, show that 22 systems exceeded the 15 parts per billion (ppb) action level for lead in one or more monitoring periods since 2000. Only eight systems exceeded the action level in 2003.

If tap monitoring samples from more than 10 percent of the homes served by a system exceed the 15 ppb action level as determined by the concentration at the 90th percentile, the utility must undertake a number of actions. These actions include addressing the corrosion control treatment process, increase monitoring, carrying out public education efforts and potentially, replacing lead service lines.

A national review is underway on the implementation and compliance with the national primary drinking water regulation for lead in response to the elevated drinking water lead levels in Washington, D.C. As part of its review, the EPA is working to determine whether the problems Washington is experiencing reflect a nationwide problem.

States are required to submit information to EPA related to 90th percentile levels after water utilities conduct required monitoring for lead in drinking water. There are approximately 53,000 community water systems in the United States. EPA is continuing to work to collect lead 90th percentile information for systems in other size categories and will report on its findings throughout the summer.

A summary of the findings for large systems and related data is available at: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lcrmr/implement.html. General information about lead in drinking water and the Washington, D.C. problem can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead.

EPA Releases Guidance for 2005 National Water Program

EPA recently released final guidance for the 2005 fiscal year for its full range of environmental programs, including the National Water Program.

The National Water Program Guidance for FY 2005 describes the improvements in water quality that the Agency hopes to accomplish in FY 2005 as well as the specific programs and projects that are expected to accomplish these improvements.

The guidance will be the basis for EPA Regional offices, states, and tribes to work together over the next several months to define state/tribe specific program commitments for the 2005 fiscal year (starting in October of this year). The Transmittal Memo for the Guidance from Acting Assistant Administrator Benjamin Grumbles describes key elements of the guidance and identifies priorities.

The new Guidance can be found on the internet at www.epa.gov/ water/waterplan. Also available on this website are the EPA 5 Year Strategic Plan, detailed annual plans for each of the 10 water related "subobjectives" in the Strategic Plan, Regional Plans, and a new site providing the current, FY 05 guidance for the full range of water program grants.

Administration Commits To Wetlands Preservation

President Bush celebrated Earth Day 2004 (April 22) by announcing an aggressive new national goal to achieve an overall increase of America's wetlands each year. The President's goal is to restore, improve and protect at least three million additional acres of wetlands over the next five years.

"The Bush Administration is committed to enhancing America's valuable wetlands and will continue to provide regulatory protection," said EPA Administrator Mike Leavitt. "We will partner with federal, state, local, and private entities to meet the President's goal of increasing the quantity and quality of wetlands nationwide."

EPA is responsible for working with the Army Corps of Engineers and states to implement the Clean Water Act Section 404 wetlands permit program. EPA also plays a role in implementing strategies identified in the Administration's National Wetlands Mitigation Action Plan.

The President's 2005 budget proposes to increase EPA funding by $5 million for grants to states that will help them address the gaps in wetlands protection.

Additional information on EPA's wetlands program can be found at: http://www.epa.gov/owow/wetlands and http://www.epa.gov/owow/estuaries.

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