| Biden-Harris Administration announces Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan
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Biden-Harris Administration announces Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan

In a press event Thursday, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Michael Regan announced that the January 2021 Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) are now final, and that EPA will promulgate further revisions prior to Oct. 16, 2024. (Pictured left, Vice President Harris at the press event; pictured below, EPA Administrator Regan at the press event)

The rulemaking plans are part of a broader Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan, which the White House describes as “a historic effort of unprecedented ambition that will deploy catalytic resources from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law while leveraging every tool across federal, state, and local government to deliver clean drinking water, replace lead pipes, and remediate lead paint.”
AWWA CEO David LaFrance, who attended the event, issued a statement that read in part:

“Today’s announcement from U.S. EPA recognizes that the January 2021 Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) are an important step forward in lead risk reduction, and utilities are already hard at work implementing that rule in their communities. The required development of lead service line inventories will help communities understand the scope of the challenge and accelerate lead service line replacement. This is a tremendous and necessary undertaking, and many utilities are already advancing this goal and serve as excellent models for others. AWWA looks forward to helping communities find collaborative ways to overcome barriers to lead service line replacement.”

Key components of the announcement include:

  1. The Jan. 15, 2021 LCRR Revisions are effective as of Dec. 16, 2021.
  2. Water systems must comply with the LCRR deadlines unless a future rulemaking changes them. The first of those deadlines is Oct. 16, 2024.
  3. EPA intends to propose and then promulgate further revisions – the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI) -- prior to Oct. 16, 2024.
  4. Because of the LCRI rulemaking, EPA anticipates proposing a delay in the compliance dates for submittal of Lead Service Line Replacement Plans and Tap Sampling Plans.

The announcement calls out the potential for recent federal infrastructure appropriations as well as legislative funding proposals currently in development as being important resources. EPA emphasizes:

  1. Timely development of initial lead service line inventories. EPA does not expect to propose changes to the requirements for information to be submitted in the initial inventory
  2. Avoiding partial lead service line replacement
  3. Prioritization of lead service line replacement for the most vulnerable populations by focusing on schools, child-care facilities, homes where children are living, other locations where children are present, and households of those who historically have been disproportionately exposed to lead from water and other media.

While it’s not yet clear what the future revisions will include, the notice outlines specific areas of focus, including:

  1. Re-evaluation of the action and trigger levels
  2. Re-evaluation of the required tap sample compliance data set; perhaps including observed lead concentrations from both 1st and 5th liter samples in those calculations when samples are drawn from homes with lead service lines, as is current practice in Michigan
  3. Provisions that would result in all lead service lines being replaced as quickly as is feasible
  4. Provisions to prioritize the removal of lead service lines in historically disadvantaged communities

“Beyond EPA’s rulemaking, AWWA is pleased that the newly announced Biden-Harris Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan seeks to address lead exposure in a whole-of-government approach,” LaFrance said in the AWWA statement. “Increased collaboration among federal agencies can help reduce lead risks from all potential sources. (Pictured left, AWWA CEO David LaFrance with EPA Office of Water Assistant Administrator Radhika Fox at the press event)

“Tremendous progress has been made in lead risk reduction since the first Lead and Copper Rule was introduced in 1991, but more work remains. ... We look forward to working closely with the Administration, states, and partners to accelerate lead service line replacement in a collaborative and efficient manner.”

AWWA will continue to update members on rule developments and requirements through AWWA Connections, advisories, Insider newsletters and other Association publications and learning opportunities.