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 Requirement

Please 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.

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.

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.

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

Division of Drinking Water

Information about DDW Programs

Other Information for Public Water Systems

Other Information for Public Water Systems

California's Drinking Water-Related Laws

Drinking Water Law Book

Federal Drinking Water Laws

US EPA Regulations

  (Page last updated 10/17/18)