Statement: EPA’s new lead rule fails to ensure safe drinking water

Media Contacts

Groups urge stronger action to get the lead out


CHICAGO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) finalized on Tuesday its update to the Lead and Copper Rule — the federal regulation that is supposed to keep lead out of our drinking water. The final rule fails to order full removal of all lead service lines within 10 years — despite concerns raised by EPA’s own science advisors and comments submitted by 63 organizations and more than 18,000 individuals from across the country. The new rule also offers little more than limited testing to address widespread lead contamination of schools’ drinking water.

In response, experts from U.S. PIRG and Environment America issued the following statements:

“We currently face a national epidemic of lead-contaminated drinking water,” said Danielle Melgar, Zero Out Toxics advocate for U.S. PIRG. “But instead of taking decisive action to solve this crisis, the EPA’s update to the Lead and Copper Rule fails to ‘get the lead out’ of our nation’s drinking water. The proposed update also neglects to set an enforceable, health-based limit on lead in our water, even though we know that lead, even at low levels, harms children. In short, today’s rule is an unacceptable failure. We will redouble our efforts to work with Congress and the incoming Biden-Harris administration to ensure safe drinking water for all Americans.”

“Chief among the rule’s shortcomings is its failure to require the full replacement of all lead service lines, which should happen as soon as possible,” said John Rumpler, senior director of Environment America’s clean water program. “These toxic pipes remain the single greatest source of lead in drinking water in millions of homes, child care centers and other locations. Yet the new rule falls far short of ordering their full replacement within 10 years, as is warranted for public health. Moreover, despite widespread contamination of schools’ drinking water, the rule only requires (limited) testing at schools, instead of actually protecting children’s health by replacing lead-tainted fountains and installing filters.