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2018 Retrospective on EPA & National Drinking Water Regulations

For EPA and national drinking water regulations, 2018 has been relatively quiet compared to other environmental programs at EPA such as air (CPP and MATS) and water quality (WOTUS). For drinking water, 2018 started off with a Federalism Consultation on the Long-Term Revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule (LT-LCR). ASDWA developed extensive comments that were developed by the ASDWA Board based on the questions posed by EPA at its initial meeting on January 8th, but also recommended that the Agency consider using a “bins” regulatory approach with progressively more stringent “bins” with required actions by water systems based on increasing levels of the 90th percentile of lead samples from 1-liter first draw samples. ASDWA’s comments included a Costs of States’ Transactions Study (CoSTS) that concluded that the impacts on state workloads would be significant. CoSTS estimated more than 730,000 hours annually for implementation of the Long-Term Revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule (LT-LCR), which translates to $73-$97 million annually for states, depending on the regulatory option selected.

Another related 2018 activity on lead was the start of a new WIIN grant program for lead testing in schools and child care facilities. Funding for this program was included in the Fiscal Year 2018 appropriations so this funding is not affected by the ongoing appropriations battle. The deadline for notices of intent to participate in this program was recently extended to February 11, 2019.

On the non-regulatory front, EPA held a PFAS Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C. on May 22-23 that should result in an EPA PFAS Management Plan being released in early 2019 – EPA also held a series of listening sessions across the country in 2018 to inform the development of this Management Plan. It should be noted that predicting any Agency actions in early 2019 is questionable to the ongoing partial shutdown of the federal government. Some regulatory actions (and some non-regulatory actions) will likely see some delays due to the ongoing shutdown and the turnover in EPA leadership in 2018 (Scott Pruitt and Peter Grevatt). 2019 should also see the publication of the proposed LT-LCR, along with some action on the perchlorate regulation.