EPA proposes new rule for lead in drinking water

Updated: Oct. 10, 2019 at 6:48 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - On Thursday, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency proposed some updates to the country’s Lead and Copper Rule in an effort to reduce the amount of lead found in the nation’s drinking water.

EPA Region 4 Administrator Mary Walker, alongside Alabama Department of Environmental Management Director Lance LeFleur, made the announcement at George Washington Carver High School in Montgomery.

“Given Alabama’s very clear commitment to protecting the health of our children, and particularly addressing lead in drinking water, we really couldn’t think of a better place to come to make today’s announcement," Walker said.

The proposal is the first major overhaul of the Lead and Copper Rule since 1991.

“The Lead and Copper Rule is really our tool for protecting children and citizens from lead in drinking water. We have had an existing rule in place for decades, but the rule has not been updated since 1991," said Walker. “So, today, we are proposing to make important changes to the rule to better protect children in families where there remain lead issues.”

The proposal focuses on six key areas:

  • Identifying the most impacted areas
  • Strengthening drinking water treatment
  • Replacing lead service lines
  • Increasing drinking water sampling reliability
  • Improving risk communication to customers
  • Better protecting children in schools and child care facilities

“Water systems will be required, for the first time ever, to test for lead in drinking water at schools and childcare facilities served by the system. These test results will be publicly available, too," Walker said.

“Children who are exposed to lead at high levels are not going to be able to learn as well at school. They’re going to have learning interferences," said Alabama State Superintendent Dr. Eric Mackey.

When finalized, the proposal will require more water systems to act sooner to reduce lead levels and protect public health, improve transparency and communication and better protect children and at-risk communities.

“President Trump has made a commitment to ensure that all Americans have access to safe and clean water, and today’s proposal helps our nation get closer to meeting that commitment,” Walker said.

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