Lead and Copper Rule for Drinking Water
The State Water Board (through the Division of Drinking Water, DDW) enforces the Lead and Copper Rule, which follows the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA’s) Lead and Copper Rule, and is used to protect the public’s drinking water from metals that can adversely affect public health. The Lead and Copper Rule requires 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.
California's Lead and Copper Rule begins with Section 64670 of Title 22, California Code of Regulations (see DDW’s Drinking Water Law Book for these regulations).
SB 1398 Lead Service Line Inventory RequirementPlease see our new webpage.
Information for Public Water Systems
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. Recently, US EPA provided recommendations to enhance oversight of the implementation of the Lead and Copper Rule, to better communicate with water system consumers, and to clarify recommended tap sampling procedures (see below).
DDW provided recommendations to California community water systems and nontransient noncommunity water systems about US EPA’s new recommendations about providing additional information to the public related to lead, particularly that which may be associated with lead pipes or lead-containing fixtures.
- Correspondence from DDW to public water systems: Recommendations for Enhanced Public Access to Lead and Copper Rule Related Information (PDF)
Guidance from US EPA
In late February 2016, US EPA, prompted by recent events in Flint, Michigan and other US cities, wrote states about the need to enhance at all levels of government the oversight of implementation and enforcement of drinking water regulations, including the Lead and Copper Rule. Included are 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.
- Guide: Implementing the Lead Public Education Provision of the Lead and Copper Rule
- Memo from US EPA on Lead and Copper Rule Sample Site Selection and Triennial Monitoring
- Letters from US EPA to States regarding steps to enhance oversight of implementation of the Lead and Copper Rule
- Memo from US EPA clarifying recommended tap sampling procedures for the Lead and Copper Rule; the Directions for Homeowners Tap Sample Collection Procedure was subsequently revised in May 2017, with minor corrections made in August 2018
- Lead and Copper Rule (US EPA)
- EPA LCR Sampling Guidance Memo in Spanish
Information about Health Risks associated with Exposures to Lead and Copper
The toxicity of lead has long been of concern with regard to workplace exposures, as well as those from environmental media and consumer products. Regulations implemented by a number of state and federal agencies limit the amount of lead that can reach people through those various pathways.
Lead was among the first chemicals listed as known to the State of California to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity for purposes of the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986 ("Proposition 65").
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.
- OEHHA's Technical Support Document for the Lead PHG
- OEHHA's Technical Support Document for the Copper PHG
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 your local Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program which may be found on the list on the following website: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/CLPPB/Pages/CLPPPIndex.aspx
If your jurisdiction does not have a local program, you may contact the California Department of Public Health, Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Branch, whose main webpage is: http://www.cdph.ca.gov/programs/CLPPB/Pages/default.aspx
Links to Other Lead- Related Information
- California Department of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC): Requirements for Low Lead Plumbing Products in California (PDF)
- DTSC: Lead in Plumbing Facts Sheets and FAQs
- California Department of Public Health (CDPH): Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Program
- CDPH: Occupational Lead Poisoning Prevention Program