White House Releases New Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan as EPA Announces Next Steps for LCRR

Today (12/16), the White House released its Lead Pipe and Paint Action Plan. The Plan cuts across 10 Federal agencies with more than 15 actions focusing primarily on lead service line replacement and prioritizing communities disproportionately impacted by lead.

At a White House event on December 16 announcing the new plan, Vice President Kamala Harris stated that “there is no good reason for anyone in this country to drink water from a lead pipe” and noted the administration’s commitment to “accelerate the removal of lead pipes and paint over the next ten years.” At the same event, EPA Administrator Michael Regan stressed that “spending one dollar for lead removal gets three dollars back to the community.” Regan then announced the EPA’s pledge to allocate $2.9 billion in Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding to states, Tribes, and territories to remove lead service lines.

Alongside the White House announcement, the EPA released the pre-publication notice outlining the Agency’s decision regarding the next steps for the LCRR after completing its review of the rule in accordance with Executive Order 13990. EPA has determined that there are areas within the LCRR that can be improved with a focus on removing lead service lines and more equitably protecting public health. Therefore, while the EPA is allowing the rule to go into effect to support near-term actions, the Agency will immediately begin developing a new proposed rulemaking to strengthen the elements identified within the notice.

This new proposal, named the Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI), will focus on four areas identified by the Agency:

  • Replacing 100% of all lead service lines as quickly as possible;
  • Strengthening compliance tap sampling;
  • Exploring options to reduce the complexity and confusion associated with the action and trigger levels, as well as evaluating whether the trigger level is still necessary; and
  • Prioritizing historically underserved communities, particularly regarding the prioritization of lead service line replacement.

Once proposed, the public will have an opportunity to provide additional feedback. EPA plans to finalize the LCRI before October 16, 2024, the initial compliance date in the LCRR. Since the rule goes into effect once the notice released today is published, other compliance dates remain intact. Initial lead service line inventories still need to be completed by the October 16, 2024 deadline.

In a corresponding fact sheet released by the Agency, EPA emphasizes its commitment to providing guidance for local water systems, state primacy agencies, and other partners to provide examples of best practices, case studies, and templates for lead service line inventories. The document also notes that the Agency will be updating the Safe Drinking Water Information System to support state and Tribal data management needs for inventories.

In addition to EPA’s commitment to allocate $2.9 billion in BIL funding to remove lead service lines, the fact sheet highlighted additional actions the Agency intends to undertake that fall outside of the LCRR’s scope, including:

  • Federal agency collaboration to address lead in drinking water in schools and child care;
  • Improving risk communication tools for communicating the risk of lead; and
  • Discouraging partial lead service line replacement.