Nation's Lead and Copper Rule hasn't been updated since 1991


U.S. Representative from Flint introduces new lead regulations

Michigan Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Flint) introduced a bill in early April to require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to reduce the acceptable level of lead in drinking water. Flint has been in the national spotlight because of high lead levels that went uncorrected for several years.

Kildee’s bill (HR 1974) would require the EPA to update its Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) within nine months to expand sampling and testing. In October, the EPA outlined possible changes for its lead regulations, but it has yet to finalize any changes.

Related: Flint, Chicago Lead Lawsuits Pressure Water Sector

The LCR hasn’t been updated since 1991, but the proposal would update these outdated federal safeguards regarding the action level for lead in water, drinking water testing, replacing lead service lines and educating Americans on the effects of lead. It would lower the action level of lead permitted in drinking water from 15 ppb to 10 ppb by 2020, and 5 ppb by 2026.

Kildee’s bill also would focus water sampling at high-risk homes, including those where pregnant women and children live, and annual testing would be preformed in schools and day cares.

“After what happened to my hometown of Flint, we must strengthen and update the Lead and Copper Rule to provide greater transparency for families,” Kildee said. “Updating this outdated rule will not only protect public health, it will restore public confidence in their water systems. We must learn from the failures of government that lead to the Flint water crisis to prevent a similar man-made emergency from happening elsewhere.”

Related: Statement from AWWA CEO David LaFrance on Flint Water-Quality Crisis

Madeline Foote, legislative representative for the League of Conservation Voters, thanked Kildee for introducing the bill, saying it’s important to protect communities and children from exposure to lead. “This effort is particularly important because lead exposure disproportionately impacts low-income and communities of color,” she said. “The League of Conservation Voters supports Congressman Kildee’s (bill proposal) because it addresses critical weaknesses in existing lead regulations that are long overdue for an update.”

Writer David Steinkraus contributed to this article.


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