Most of us don’t cozy up at night to read government regulations, so you’re in good company if you haven’t read the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) revised rule on lead in drinking water.
But if you care about public health, it’s worth noting some substantial improvements –especially if you live in an older home that may still have a lead service line connecting it to the community water system. Lead service lines can be a source of lead in drinking water, and they are typically owned partly by the property owner and partly by the water utility. Learn more here.
Under the proposed new rule, water utilities of all sizes would need to develop an understanding of where lead service lines exist in their communities and share that information publicly. While this may seem a modest requirement, it’s actually quite a challenge for utilities and a huge benefit for our communities. Consumers who know their service lines are made with lead will be more likely to collaborate with their water systems to replace them. Potential homebuyers may ask that lead lines be removed finalizing the purchase of a new home. Local governments and citizens who more fully understand where lead risks exist may be more driven to work together on solutions.
The rule also requires water utilities to develop plans to remove all lead service lines completely over time. As you might imagine, this is an enormous undertaking that requires an all-hands-on-deck approach. Removing of all lead service lines cannot be accomplished without a spirit of community collaboration and shared responsibility among water utilities, property owners, manufacturers, state regulators, federal agencies, financing authorities, plumbers, code officials, local government and many others.
Completely removing all lead service lines in communities will take time, coordination and money. But the best way to protect people from lead in water is to remove the sources of lead.