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EPA Proposes Lead and Copper Rule Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed an its National Primary Drinking Water Regulation regarding lead and copper, which would require local governments to remove all lead and copper pipes in the U.S. within a 10-year period.

Of note, the proposed rule calls for 10 percent of the nation’s lead water lines to be replaced each year to remain on track. The proposed rule would also change tap sampling protocols, would lower the threshold from 15 to 10 micrograms of lead per liter to alert the public/act, and would require local agencies with multiple lead violations to make available certified lead-reducing water filters to customers.

EPA estimates this rule would cost $45 billion to replace an estimated 9 million lead pipes. $15 billion in EPA funding is available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act for lead removal and technical assistance.

EPA will begin accepting comment upon printing in the Federal Register for 60 days. Click here to download the pre-printed proposed rule and click here for EPA documents supporting its rule.


Do you have thoughts on the EPA Lead and Copper Rule? Please let us know using this form.


Water utilities, including special districts, are required to report their waterline inventories by October 16, 2024. This is not part of the rule, but rather a Trump Era rule apart of EPA’s broader long-term strategy to reduce contaminants in public drinking water. Click here for a July 2022 NSDC Policy Memo covering the 2021 lead and copper rule requiring pipe inventories.

NSDC is not opposed to enhancing standards for clean drinking water, as it is critical element of special districts’ ability to enhance quality of life, public health, and public safety of their communities. However, NSDC is concerned when major rules are proposed or implemented with inefficient tools and resources for special districts to manageably comply.

For this reason, NSDC supports H.R. 1407 (Kidlee) and S. 726 (Bennet), the Financing Lead out of Water (FLOW) Act. The bill would break down barriers for special districts and other local agencies to leverage bonds to replace lead service lines. Under current policy, public utilities must seek Internal Revenue Service certification that the bond is not disproportionately used on private activities – that is, removing lead service pipes belonging to homes and businesses that impact water quality to the end user. 

Contact Cole Arreola-Karr, NSDC Federal Advocacy Director, at for more information.