LCRR Lead and Copper Rule Revisions
DURATION 5 min read
On December 2021, the EPA released the final version of the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) with a compliance date of October 16, 2024. The LCRR introduced several major changes to the existing Lead and Copper Rule which public water systems (PWSs) are required to implement by the compliance date. In general, the major rule changes include the creation of a comprehensive lead service line inventory and replacement plan, additional testing in schools and childcare facilities, and a new trigger level for lead sampling which is intended to initiate improvements to the PWSs at lower lead levels. The driving factors behind the EPA’s revisions are identifying the most at-risk communities and protecting children from lead exposure by “getting the lead out”. There is no safe lead level for children and the Flint, Michigan event was a tragic reminder there are still locations in the United States in which lead service lines exist and have potential to impact the public health. A primary source of lead exposure is from water pipes which can present health risks to both children and adults.
How will the new requirements be implemented?
Since the LCRR release, there has been a lot of speculation and discussion on how these new requirements will be implemented and how PWSs can tackle such a large endeavor. To complicate matters, almost as soon as the EPA released the LCRR, the EPA announced changes were underway to modify the current rules to further strength the LCRR regulations. These changes, known as the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (or LCRI), will strengthen the original goals of proactively identifying and replacing lead service lines and more equitably protecting public health. At this time, the release of the LCRI is expected to be prior to the LCRR initial compliance date. The anticipated LCRI changes have created concern with most agencies that moving forward with many of the LCRR requirements may be pointless if revisions are forthcoming.
With this concern in mind, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (or TCEQ) reported the proposed LCRI changes will not impact the regulations associated with the creation of the lead service line inventory. Further, since changes are anticipated to the LCRR replacement plan requirements, TCEQ will not require the replacement plan to be part of the October 16, 2024 submission. Therefore, it is recommended all PWSs initiate and focus on the development of the comprehensive lead service line inventory. With the focus set, the TCEQ released a template which they will require all PWSs to utilize when submitting their inventories. The TCEQ inventory template is an excel spreadsheet which must be submitted electronically to the State.
A link to the template, which also includes several guidance tabs, is now available on the TCEQ Drinking Water website under the heading “Service Line Inventories.” Lead and Copper Rule Revisions – Texas Commission on Environmental Quality – www.tceq.texas.gov
What exactly does the preparation of this comprehensive service line inventory entail?
Inventories must include a detailed list of all service lines, on both the public and private side, connected to the public water distribution system and the categorization of each service line into one of the four categories listed below:
“Lead” where the service line is made of lead.
“Galvanized Requiring Replacement” where a galvanized service line is or was at any time downstream of a lead service line or is currently downstream of a “Lead Status Unknown” service line. If the water system is unable to demonstrate that the galvanized service line was never downstream of a lead service line, it must presume there was an upstream lead service line.
“Non-lead” where the service line is determined through an evidence-based record, method, or technique not to be lead or galvanized requiring replacement. The water system may classify the actual material of the service line (i.e., plastic or copper) as an alternative to classifying it as “Non-lead.”
“Lead Status Unknown” where the service line material is not known to be lead, galvanized requiring replacement, or a non-lead service line, such as where there is no documented evidence supporting material classification.
To assist in classifying service lines, the following clarification has been provided by the TCEQ:
- Service lines construction after 1988 can be categorized as Non-Lead. In Texas, the 1986 EPA Lead Ban officially went into effect in 1988. This ban date (post 1988) can be used as a cutoff date to classify a service line as non-lead as long as there is documented evidence of when the service line was installed.
- A more stringent date of after 2014 is used for classifying service lines for schools and childcare facilities (including in-home childcare). The 2011 Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act further reduced the amount of lead allowed from 8% to not more than 0.25%. This law, which went into effect in Texas in 2014, is the cutoff date allowed to classify a school or childcare facility service line as non-lead as long as there is documented evidence of when service line was installed.
- In stride with the driving factor to better protecting children, the inventory does require an additional level of review of services lines associated with schools and childcare facilities. The childcare facilities review must include both commercial child cares and in-home daycares. The Texas Health and Human Service website (link below) provides a list of all childcare facilities that are legally registered with the State. This website can help PWSs identify the childcare facilities located within their jurisdiction. https://www.dfps.state.tx.us/Child_Care/Search_Texas_Child_Care/default.asp
- The service line inventory does not require the inclusion of fittings, couplings, pigtails, etc. Only requirement is to provide classification of the service line. However, it is recommended that if this additional information is available, the PWSs should document this information as appropriate.
- Where ownership of a service line is split, meaning a portion is owned by the PWS and the customer owns a portion, a single classification per service line is required. TCEQ provided a special matrix guide for classification of the entire service line when ownership is split. This matrix guide can be found in the guidance documents provided with the template.
To learn more about the LCRR Lead and Copper revisions, like gathering items in order to begin assisting in classifying service lines, stay tuned for our follow-up articles. If you have questions or are seeking further guidance, please reach out to our Water District Service Team members, Pam Madrigal, PE at Pmadrigal@quiddity.com, Chad Walker, PE at Cwalker@quiddity.com, or Wesley Lay, PE at Wlay@quiddity.com.