Lead and Copper Rule for Drinking Water
The State Water Board, through the Division of Drinking Water (DDW), enforces the California Lead and Copper Rule (CA LCR), which is aligned with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA’s) Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). The CA LCR protects the public’s drinking water from metals that can adversely affect public health by requiring water systems to monitor lead and copper levels at the consumers’ taps. If action levels for lead or copper are exceeded, installation or modifications to corrosion control treatment is required. If the action level for lead is exceeded, public notification is required.
Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR)
On January 15, 2021, US EPA issued revisions to federal LCR. US EPA’s new Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) aim to strengthen the LCR to better protect communities and children in elementary schools and childcare facilities from the impacts of lead exposure. On January 20, 2021, under federal Executive Order 13990, the LCRR was identified as an agency action requiring review. Consequently, US EPA delayed the effective and compliance dates established in the LCRR to December 16, 2021 and October 16, 2024, respectively, while engaging with local communities, states, local governments, utilities, and stakeholders for input on any changes that should be made to the LCRR.
On December 17, 2021, following US EPA engagement activities, US EPA published Docket No. EPA-HQ-OW-2021-0255 in the federal register. Within the Docket, US EPA committed to propose and revise the LCRR by October 2024 with the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI). The LCRI is expected to delay the implementation of portions of the LCRR beyond the October 16, 2024 compliance date, however, US EPA maintains the October 16, 2024 compliance date for the lead service line inventories. Water systems are to keep their current tap sampling plans until the LCRR comes into effect on October 16, 2024.
In February 2022, the Association of State Drinking Water Administrators (ASDWA) held an 8-part webinar series on various lead service line inventory topics, such as case studies, funding for inventory, inventory templates, and other tools. Presentation slide decks and recorded webinars can be accessed at the ASDWA Lead Service Line Symposium page.
ASDWA also developed a framework for those starting the development of lead service line inventories while US EPA develops its LCRR inventory guidance.
SB 1398 Lead Service Line Inventory Requirement
Other Information for Public Water Systems
Outreach and Consumer Confidence Reports
Public water systems are required to provide information to their customers and consumers about the quality of their drinking water. This is commonly provided in water systems’ annual Consumer Confidence Reports. In February 2016, US EPA provided recommendations to enhance the implementation of the Lead and Copper Rule, to better communicate with water system consumers, and to clarify recommended tap sampling procedures (see below).
On March 7, 2016, DDW provided recommendations to California community water systems and nontransient noncommunity water systems about US EPA’s new recommendations to provide additional information to the public related to lead, particularly related to lead pipes or lead-containing fixtures.
Guidance from US EPA
Lead Service Line Inventories
US EPA has committed to issuing new guidance for developing lead service line inventories, including best practices, case studies, and templates. More information to come.
Homeowner Tap Sampling Procedures
In February 2016, prompted by events in Flint, Michigan and other US cities, US EPA wrote to states about the need to enhance at all levels of government the implementation and enforcement of drinking water regulations, including the Lead and Copper Rule. Included were specific recommendations on the need to address lead action level exceedances, to fully implement and enforce the Lead and Copper Rule, to enhance public transparency and public access to data and compliance information, and to leverage additional funding sources to address aging infrastructure needs.
In an accompanying memo, US EPA also clarified tap sampling procedures for the Lead and Copper Rule, with specific recommendations for removal and cleaning of aerators, pre-stagnation flushing, and sample bottle configuration. The memo includes a revised version of Suggested Directions for Homeowner Tap Sample Collection Procedures which is included below.
Memo from US EPA clarifying recommended tap sampling procedures for the Lead and Copper Rule; and the most recent version of the "Suggested Directions for Homeowners Tap Sample Collection Procedures" was last revised in May 2019.
Public Education Provision
Information about Health Risks associated with Exposures to Lead and Copper
The toxicity of lead has long been of concern, particularly considering that it may be present in many environments, including air, soil, water. Workplaces and consumer products are other potential sources of lead exposure. Regulations implemented by a number of state and federal agencies limit the amount of lead that can reach people through those various pathways.
Related to drinking water concerns, the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment’s (OEHHA’s) technical support documents for public health goals (PHGs) include health risk evaluations for lead and copper.
Health information on lead in drinking water is also available from these federal agencies:
Questions about health concerns related to blood lead levels should be directed to the California Department of Public Health, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.