Congressman Dan Kildee Re-Introduces Legislation to Strengthen and Update Lead and Copper Rule
Congressman Dan Kildee (MI-05) today re-introduced comprehensive legislation that would require the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to update the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) within nine months. The LCR, which is supposed to be updated regularly, has not been updated by the EPA since 1991.
His legislation, H.R. 1974, the National Opportunity for Lead Exposure Accountability and Deterrence (NO LEAD) Act, would update outdated federal safeguards regarding the action level for lead in water, drinking water testing, replacing lead service lines and educating Americans on the effects of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. The NO LEAD Act would lower the action level of lead permitted in drinking water from its current level of 15 parts per billion (ppb) to 10 ppb by 2020, and 5 ppb by 2026. It would also focus water sampling at high risk homes, including those where pregnant women and children reside, and require annual testing be done in schools and day care facilities.
“After what happened to my hometown of Flint, we must strengthen and update the Lead and Copper Rule to provide greater transparency for families,” Congressman 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 “Updating this outdated rule will not only protect public health, it will restore public confidence in their water systems.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 led to the Flint water crisis to prevent a similar man-made emergency from happening elsewhere.”
“I want to commend Congressman Kildee for his ongoing dedication to ensuring that all communities have access to clean drinking water. In the wake of the water crisis in Flint and to prevent the next Flint, it is more important than ever that EPA finalize strong rules to protect drinking water from lead,” said House Energy and Commerce Committee Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06).
“We thank Congressman Kildee for his leadership in the fight to protect our communities, especially children, from exposure to dangerous lead. This effort is particularly important because lead exposure disproportionately impacts low-income and communities of color. The League of Conservation Voters supports Congressman Kildee’s NO LEAD Act because it addresses critical weaknesses in existing lead regulations that are long overdue for an update,” said Madeleine Foote, Legislative Representative for the League of Conservation Voters.
“Everyone in Michigan deserves safe drinking water and for too many in our state the reality is they are drinking water with lead contamination at dangerous levels,” said David Holtz, Chair, Sierra Club Michigan Chapter Executive Committee. “Congressman Kildee’s bill not only lowers allowable lead levels in drinking water but it increases testing, requires more public notice when lead levels exceed the allowable limit and says water utilities must replace all lead service lines instead of only portions of lines. Flint residents are still paying the price for widespread lead poisoning and know the cost in damaged health when our laws and enforcement fail a community. The NO LEAD Act is a major, strong step toward protecting our families and communities from dangerous lead levels and requiring real solutions when lead levels become dangerous. Sierra Club supports the NO LEAD Act and applauds Congressman Kildee for his leadership on this issue.”
Details on Congressman Kildee’s legislation are below:
LEAD ACTION LEVEL
- Lowering the Action Level: The bill lowers the action level from 15 ppb currently, to 10 ppb by 2020 and 5 ppb by 2026. This will align the LCR with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s regulations for bottled water.
- Action Level Exceedance: If an individual home or building tests above the action level the owner must be notified within two days. Also, the Public Water System (PWS) must attempt to do an onsite investigation at the building within 10 business days of the testing to determine the scope of the lead issues.
DRINKING WATER TESTING
- Water Sampling: The PWS must include focus test sampling at high risk homes, such as those where children or pregnant women live, and cannot throw out samples without written explanation. Finally, testing must be done at least once a year at all drinking water outlets in schools and day care facilities.
- Sampling Protocol Instructions: The EPA must develop a scientifically-based universal testing protocol that prohibits the use of techniques that minimize detecting lead in drinking water.
- Service Line Replacement: If a service line must be replaced, all parts of the pipe that are lead must be replaced; partial line replacement is prohibited. When replacing service lines, priority must be given to the most high-risk buildings such as those with pregnant women and children residing in them.
- Service Line Inventory: Within three years, every PWS must create a publicly accessible inventory of the location, composition, any previous work done on and legal ownership of all the service lines it manages.
TRANSPARENCY & EDUCATION
- Public Education: Water testing results must be in a standardized format and be posted on the websites of both local and state governments and the EPA. Also, information regarding available financial assistance to replace lead service lines and how to request a water test must also be posted.
- Consumer Confidence Report: The Consumer Confidence Report, required of all PWSs, must be updated every three months and be made publicly available online or be mailed to all residents of the PWS. This bill also requires the Consumer Confidence Report to provide additional information about lead testing, including:
- The address, date and history for each specific site where sampling was done. In order to protect privacy, homeowners may opt out of this, but non-residential facilities and day care centers may not.
- The material composition of the service line at each test site as well as an explanation if any sampling is done at a facility without a lead service line.
- The test results for the highest and median lead levels along with the number and value of all test results above the action level.
- The types of disinfectants and corrosion controls being used to treat the water and any major changes in treatment in the previous three months.
- A history of any violations and fines the PWS has received.