Lead and Copper

Topical Collection on Lead and Copper

The water industry has learned much about managing lead and copper in drinking water, yet research on lead and copper in potable water systems and their effects on human health continues to reveal new discoveries. As our understanding of the health effects of lead and copper exposure evolves, best practices and regulations related to these raw materials also evolve. In the United States, recent revisions to the Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule are meant to eliminate high levels of lead and copper in water systems. These regulatory actions and utility experiences impelled AWWA to compile articles from its publications to provide sound approaches and novel research that address lead and copper in drinking water. By curating this collection, AWWA provides timely information and relevant, important research to help water professionals protect public health and provide safe water.

AWWA has aimed to make the collection available early enough to give utilities time to digest the information and put any new approaches in place ahead of regulatory deadlines. To this end, this topical collection focuses on the following areas:

Contributions in this collection are from AWWA’s publications: 

  • Journal AWWA: Guidance from thought and practice leaders in the water industry
  • Opflow: How-to articles and case studies on water treatment and distribution, primarily for water system operators
  • AWWA Water Science: Original, peer-reviewed research on the science, engineering, and social aspects of water
  • AWWA’s manuals and standards: Consensus documents focused on providing strategies and steps for water system optimization, from treatment to distribution

This topical collection relied on skilled experts serving as guest editors, and it also received extensive feedback from several AWWA volunteer groups—in particular, AWWA’s Lead in Water Subcommittee and the Copper in Water Subcommittee. As new articles are published throughout 2022 and 2023, relevant resources will be added to the collection. AWWA wishes to thank those who contributed to this effort and especially to the authors of the works in the collection.

Water professionals are committed to protecting their communities today as we work for a future in which lead is no longer in contact with drinking water and copper contamination is no longer a concern. 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 water professionals and their partners find collaborative ways to overcome barriers to the lead and copper management challenges facing communities around the world.

For more AWWA resources, please visit www.awwa.org/lead.