EPA Announces Revisions to Lead and Copper Rule

The Environmental Protection Agency has announced updates to its Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), implementing new guidelines to reduce lead exposure in drinking water.

OWASA has been monitoring developments with this update. Staff are currently reviewing the technical document for any new initiatives impacting our service area.

Lead is not typically found in raw water sources, like OWASA’s main drinking water supplies Cane Creek Reservoir and University Lake. There is no detectable level of lead in the drinking water that we provide to your home. However, it can enter drinking water from corrosion of plumbing materials that contain lead.

OWASA treats our water to prevent lead and other plumbing materials from entering drinking water through corrosion. OWASA’s water mains are not made of lead. Lead can sometimes be found in the service lines that connect homes and businesses to water mains, but OWASA has no known lead service lines. Small sections of pipe called goosenecks were used to connect some lines to the main; OWASA removed all known lead goosenecks in the 1990s.

Some plumbing components within homes and businesses can contain lead such as brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and lead solder, which was used to connect sections of copper pipe. Lead solder is more likely to be found in homes built before its use was banned in 1986.

For over 20 years, samples of water leaving OWASA’s Water Treatment Plant have tested below the detectable level for lead of 3 parts per billion (ppb). One update in the new LCR is a lower detection limit, which means samples must be analyzed using a method that can measure lower levels of lead than before. In anticipation of this change, OWASA tested our latest round of regulatory sampling carried out from June to September 2020 at the new threshold; all samples came back below this updated level of 1 ppb.

As we review this new update to the LCR, we will be in touch with customers as further updates are necessary. In the meantime, please reach out to our Water Treatment Plant staff (Katie Harwell, Water Treatment Laboratory Supervisor) with any questions or concerns. If you have any concerns, OWASA offers free lead and copper testing of our water to customers in our service area.

Protecting our community from lead is a responsibility we share with you. Our Water and Health Page has additional information for reducing your risk to exposure to lead through drinking water. OWASA will be in contact with customers for future updates regarding the LCR.

Thank you for your patience and cooperation as we review the updated LCR and work to continue providing you with high-quality drinking water.