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AWWA testifies before U.S. House on improvements to rule on lead in water

In testimony today before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Environment and Climate Change, the American Water Works Association advocated for a revised Lead and Copper Rule that advances lead service line replacement nationwide while strengthening protections for consumers today.

AWWA, the largest association of water professionals in the world, told the committee members that the revised LCR – the regulation that addresses risks from lead in water -- should be implementable in the field, maintain effective corrosion control, promote the development of effective technical solutions and be understandable.

Stephen Estes-Smargiassi, Director of Planning and Sustainability at Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, delivered the testimony on behalf of AWWA five days after the association submitted formal comments on the proposed rule revisions to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“AWWA and the water community are committed to working toward a day when the potential for lead in drinking water is removed from every household and every community,” Estes-Smargiassi said. “We look forward to working with Congress, EPA, our members and everyone with an interest in safe water as the new rule is finalized and implemented.”

Lead at levels of concern is rarely present in water leaving treatment plants and traveling through water mains. However, lead was used in some communities as late as the mid-1980s to connect homes to the water system. A 2016 AWWA study estimated that more than six million lead service lines remain today. Lead can also be present in home plumbing components, solder and fixtures.

Noting that EPA’s 2016 white paper on the LCR reported substantial nationwide progress in addressing lead from water, air, dust and soil over the last 50 years, Estes-Smargiassi added that collaboration among many entities is critical in advancing public health protection from lead in water.

“Shared responsibility is central to reducing the health risks from lead across every media, but is particularly important with developing policies to manage lead in drinking water,” he testified. “Reduction of lead in drinking water requires a collaborative effort by the water system, customers, consumers, manufacturers, state regulators, federal agencies, financing authorities, plumbers,
code officials, local government and many others.”

In its written comments to EPA, AWWA expressed strong support for the rule’s requirements that water utilities develop inventories of lead service lines in their areas and to share that information with their communities. The comments addressed potential improvements in clarity, corrosion control requirements, sampling, public notification, and utility collaboration with schools and childcare facilities.

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Established in 1881, the American Water Works Association is the largest nonprofit, scientific and educational association dedicated to managing and treating water, the world’s most important resource. With approximately 51,000 members, AWWA provides solutions to improve public health, protect the environment, strengthen the economy and enhance our quality of life.


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