Lead and Copper


In 1991, EPA published a regulation to control lead and copper in drinking water. This regulation is known as the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). Since 1991, the LCR has undergone various revisions to protect public health and reduce lead exposure for all Americans.

Source: Adobe Stock.

Lead exposure occurs through many pathways, including soil, dust, food, and drinking water. Through a series of policies – including the phase-outs of lead in gasoline and paint – the U.S. has made major progress in reducing lead exposure and childhood blood lead levels over the past several decades. Although the LCR has resulted in substantial reductions in lead in drinking water, there is a compelling need to strengthen its public health protections and clarify its implementation requirements (Excerpt from EPA’s website).

Where does lead come from?

Source: U.S. EPA.

According to the U.S. EPA, lead can enter drinking water when plumbing materials that contain lead corrode, especially where the water has high acidity or low mineral content that corrodes pipes and fixtures. The most common sources of lead in drinking water are lead pipes, faucets, and fixtures. In homes with lead pipes that connect the home to the water main, also known as lead services lines, these pipes are typically the most significant source of lead in the water.  

Lead pipes are more likely to be found in older cities and homes built before 1986. Among homes without lead service lines, the most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and plumbing with lead solder (Excerpt from EPA’s website).

How is NRWA helping small systems meet this regulation?

1. Safe Drinking Water Act Compliance Program

This program, funded by the U.S. EPA, provides on-site technical assistance that supports small water system personnel, tribal systems, and overburdened systems when working to comply with federal regulations. Training Specialists have experience working with small systems and possess expert knowledge regarding their compliance challenges.

The SDWA Compliance Assistance Program is designed to strengthen the technical capacity in small water systems, ultimately resulting in the reduction of the number of systems out of compliance with health-based standards.

2. Partnership with 120Water

In 2021, NRWA and 120Water entered a partnership to expand the technical assistance and support available to State Rural Water Associations and rural and small utilities as they prepare to meet new regulatory requirements.

The partnership equips State Rural Water Association members across the country with tools and resources to manage water quality programs related to lead and other contaminants. This will include educational resources, ongoing training, and access to 120Water solutions—consisting of cloud-based software, point-of-use sampling kits and expert consulting services—at a preferred price. The partnership will focus specifically on helping water systems as they prepare to meet new regulatory expectations due to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR).

How do I get involved as a small/rural utility system?

120Water has been in the process of entering individual partnerships with each State Rural Water Association. To get involved with your state or to find out more about your state’s partnership with 120Water, please contact your State Rural Water Association.


EPA Releases Proposed Lead and Copper Rule ImprovementsLearn More
Lead and Copper Rule: A Quick Reference Guide (EPA)View
Lead and Copper Rule Long-Term Revisions (EPA)View
Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (EPA)Learn More
NRWA/120Water’s LCRR Self-EvaluationTake Evaluation
Lead Service Line Management Decision TreeDownload
[How-To Guide] Creating Your Service Line InventoryDownload
LCRR Compliance TimelineDownload
120Water LCRR WebinarsView
120 Water Guides & eBooksView

LCRR Webinars