EPA asks for input on changes to rules regarding lead in water supplies
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WASHINGTON — Twenty-three months after then-President Barack Obama declared a federal emergency over lead contamination in the Flint water supply, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is seeking input from states on changes to federal rules regarding how local water systems must react in similar situations.
On Thursday, an EPA director sent a letter to state environmental and other agencies that often oversee implementation of the federal Lead and Copper Rule, calling them to a meeting in Washington on Jan. 8 to discuss potential changes.
“Despite lead contaminated sites being an environmental threat to our country, EPA has not updated the Lead and Copper Rule in decades,” said EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, noting that no major revision has been made since its implementation in 1991.
In December 2015, amid the growing problem in Flint, an EPA working group issued recommendations that led the agency to begin looking at altering the rule to implement more aggressive lead water line replacement programs; improve public education campaigns to get consumers to test their water, and possibly set a “health-based benchmark” for lead that would, when exceeded in an individual’s home, require notification of the individual and local public health agencies, with the expectation that officials would “use this information to take prompt action.” Flint’s drinking water became contaminated with lead after it changed water sources to the Flint River and the state Department of Environmental Quality failed to require corrosion control treatments to keep lead from leaching out of old pipes into consumers’ taps.
Todd Spangler at or at tspangler.