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Lead & Copper Rule

The Lead and Copper Rule and its revisions apply to all community and nontransient noncommunity waterworks. These regulations establish requirements for monitoring, treatment, consumer awareness, lead service line replacement, and public education, whenever the action levels for lead and copper are exceeded.
Lead and copper enter drinking water primarily through plumbing materials.

  • In 1991, EPA published the Lead and Copper Rule to minimize lead and copper in drinking water.
  • In 2000, EPA published revisions to the Lead and Copper rule to address implementation problems and issues arising from the 1991 Rule.
  • In 2004, EPA published minor corrections to the Lead and Copper Rule to reinstate text that was inadvertently dropped from the rule during the 2000 revisions.
  • In 2007, EPA published Short-term regulatory revisions and clarifications to strength the rule in the following areas: monitoring, treatment processes, public education, customer awareness, and lead service line replacement.

The rule requires systems to monitor drinking water at customer taps. If lead concentrations exceed an action level of 15 ppb or copper concentrations exceed an action level of 1.3 ppm in more than 10% of customer taps sampled, the system must undertake a number of additional actions to control corrosion. If the action level for lead is exceeded, the system must also inform the public about steps they should take to protect their health and may have to replace lead service lines under their control.

Revisions Being Considered by EPA:
EPA is considering Long-Term Revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule to improve public health protection by making substantive changes and to streamline the rule requirements. EPA’s primary goals in considering these revisions are to:

  • Improve the effectiveness of the corrosion control treatment in reducing exposure to lead and copper, and
  • Trigger additional actions that equitably reduce the public’s exposure to lead and copper when corrosion control treatment alone is not effective.

Last Updated: 04-18-2016

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