2020 was a year of significant, unprecedented change and upheaval in nearly every aspect of our lives. With everything going on, it is easy to miss what changed in the world of environmental regulations. We will review three of those regulatory alterations that took place in 2020.
Lead and Copper Rule Updates
The Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) was adopted nearly 30 years ago to protect the public against lead contamination in public drinking water systems. The tragic situation in Flint, MI helped place lead contamination back in focus, and the EPA updated the LCR to address some of the shortcomings of the rule. Lead exposure has negative long-term health effects on children, and the new LCR requires that all Public Water Systems (PWS) test for lead in the water supply of schools and childcares that they serve. In addition to testing at certain facilities, PWS must collect samples at homes and buildings known to have lead-based service lines. All samples must now be collected on the fifth liter, meaning that four liters must be drawn before the actual sample is collected to ensure that the water is coming from the lead-based service line and not the internal plumbing of the building.
The EPA lowered the action level for lead contamination to 15ppb, which is used to measure the effectiveness of a PWS corrosion control program. Exceeding 15ppb will not result in an exceedance violation, but additional action may be required that could result in a violation being issued. In addition, the allowable timeframe for addressing exceedances has been lowered significantly. If a PWS without a corrosion control program reports a result of 10ppb or greater, they will be required to quickly implement approved corrosion control treatment.
More information can be found via the EPA here: https://www.epa.gov/ground-water-and-drinking-water/basic-information-about-lead-drinking-water
Perchlorate in Drinking Water
The EPA issued final action regarding perchlorate in drinking water, stating that the constituent no longer meets the criteria for being a regulated drinking water contaminant under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Reported perchlorate concentrations in drinking water have significantly decreased since becoming a regulated contaminant, due to many factors including mitigation strategies in highly contaminated areas, improved storage of hypochlorite solutions, and some state level drinking water regulations.
Although the EPA will no longer be regulating perchlorate concentrations, it is important to note that state and local authorities still may. Smaller jurisdiction regulations are often more stringent than federal rules, so it is imperative that you talk to your regulator prior to making any changes in sampling.
Methods Update Rule 2019
In 2019, the EPA proposed an update to the Clean Water Act Methods Rule for the analysis of effluent. Although this rule was supposed to be adopted in 2020, it is still in proposed status as of early 2021. When adopted, this rule will allow for changes to some test procedures when analyzing wastewater and environmental samples for some contaminants. This rule will also allow for some technological advances, which have previously not been approved, to be used. When this update is adopted, we will share further changes and clarifications.