NRWA Urges for Technical Assistance for Rural and Small Communities to Ensure Compliance with the New EPA Lead Rule

NRWA Urges for Technical Assistance for Rural and Small Communities to Ensure Compliance with the New EPA Lead Rule

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has published the “final” revisions to lead and copper rule in the Federal Register (link).  The great majority of communities regulated by the new rule will be small (under 10,000 population).  The rule will regulate 67,672 U.S. public water systems, of which 63,231 serve populations less than 10,000 persons.

Small and rural communities will have more difficulty complying with the new rule due to limited economies of scale and lack of technical expertise. The new rule should include additional on-site technical assistance resources to assist small communities with the complexity of the new rule. Most small community non-compliance with the Safe Drinking Water Act and Clean Water Act can be quickly remedied by on-site technical assistance and education. 

The country’s locally governed public drinking water systems have the primary responsibility of supplying the public with safe drinking water and sewer service every second of every day.  It is important for EPA to recognize that small local water supplies are operated and governed by people whose families drink the water, who are locally elected by their community and only exist to carry out the public’s interests.

Safe drinking water and sanitation are generally recognized as the most essential necessities to public health and welfare, concepts which only became more axiomatic during the pandemic.  Every one of the 63,231 small and rural public water systems has continued to provide the public with the most essential public welfare service, water, for the duration of the current coronavirus pandemic because it is their mission and purpose.

With additional technical resources, it would be very possible to provide such on-site assistance and assessment to every small community out of compliance with the new LCRR rule, correct the situation, or develop a workable plan to expeditiously return to compliance.

On behalf of all rural and small communities, NRWA provided substantive comments to the EPA during the rulemaking process [NRWA 2/11/2020 Comments].