ASDWA Submits Comments on EPA’s Proposed Lead and Copper Rule Improvements

Today, February 5, 2024, ASDWA submitted comments on the proposed Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI). ASDWA’s members developed extensive, in-depth comments based on over 20 hours of input from 165 state regulators across 41 states. States were encouraged by many of the changes proposed by EPA in the new rule, especially the requirement for water systems to proactively replace lead service lines.

The state and territorial primacy agencies are co-regulators with EPA in the development and implementation of drinking water regulations. The primacy agencies’ collective workforce of about 3,600 regulators works tirelessly every day to ensure that the nation’s 150,000 water systems provide safe drinking water every time consumers turn on the tap. States have over 30 years of direct implementation experience with the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), originally published in 1991, including the minor revisions in 2000 and 2004 and the short-term revisions in 2007. ASDWA’s Members are also currently working to implement the service line inventory components of the 2021 Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) ahead of the LCRI. ASDWA’s members have a breadth and depth of knowledge on the details of LCR implementation that EPA should incorporate into the final LCRI. In these comments, states have provided expertise and guidance on rule components that could be more streamlined and have identified new and innovative solutions that could address problems that have arisen during the last 30 years of rule implementation.

ASDWA’s members’ most pressing concern with the proposed LCRI is the increased state workload, compounded by the upcoming PFAS regulation and ongoing Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act implementation. These important new tasks under LCRI will be in addition to states’ current everyday activities, such as providing hands-on technical assistance to water systems, ensuring compliance with over 90 existing standards, system inspections, engineering reviews, operator certification, and much more. The proposed rule requires 38 new reviews by states, 8 new templates to be developed, and 5 new state-to-system consultations across various components of the LCRI. ASDWA’s updated Cost of States’ Transactions Study (CoSTS) estimates that the LCRI will place a significant cost and time burden on states annually, estimating that a total of 5,141,769 state staff hours will be needed each year, or 71% of estimated available state staff time based on the estimated 3,600 state staff across all primacy agencies. This time burden translates to over $300 million a year for state implementation—more than three times the amount of Public Water Supply Supervision (PWSS) funding allocated for state implementation for the entire Safe Drinking Water Act. Additionally, CoSTS estimates that the rule will necessitate approximately 799,115 upfront state hours, equating to about $48 million for initial implementation and transition to the new rule.