Today, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler released a long-awaited update to the “Lead and Copper Rule” – the federal water quality regulation for lead in drinking water — that he described as a solution to the country’s lead-contaminated water epidemic. In response, Food & Water Watch released an issue-brief analyzing the inadequacies of current lead regulations, critical background about lead-in-water violations, and the enormous health impacts lead exposure has caused.
Mary Grant, Public Water For All Campaign Director, from Food & Water Watch said:
“Wheeler’s new lead-in-water regulation is a sick joke. After years of playing bait and switch with America’s water, his EPA is double-crossing public health yet again. Communities across the country continue to face disastrous health crises from lead in the water, but instead of taking a strong stance against lead, the EPA is actually going backward.
“Lead service lines are the single biggest source of lead contamination in our water. But Wheeler’s new minimum requirement for replacing lead-contaminated service lines is now a full 4 percentage points lower than the previous standard. According to media reports, under the new rule, systems that violate the lead rule will have to replace 3 percent of their lead service lines each year – a dramatic slowing down from the current 7 percent a year. The science is clear: there is no safe level of lead. To protect human health, we need to eliminate all lead service lines and require full lead service line replacement.
“Reprising already failing and outdated standards will not solve years of irreversible lead-caused damage and a growing water crisis. The solution is simple: eliminate all lead service lines and provide federal funding to do it. Since the EPA is refusing to do its job, Congress must step up and pass the Water Affordability, Transparency, Equity and Reliability (WATER) Act, a bill that would provide billions of dollars in funding to address lead contamination of our drinking water. Our communities deserve lead-free water at school and at home.”