lead pipes

Water Systems Unprepared for New Regulations: Survey

  November 18, 2021

By Dave Lubach

President Biden’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill provides $15 billion for the replacement of lead service lines (LSLs) in the country’s drinking water system. The extra funds are timely, according to a recent survey. 

120Water, a company that helps customers manage their lead programs, surveyed more than 200 water utility professionals about their readiness to meet regulatory changes scheduled to begin on December 16. The survey showed that a majority of the country’s water systems are not ready for the changes. 

The Lead and Copper Rule Revision (LCRR) demands that state agencies and water systems take steps to keep the public safe from lead in drinking water. Agencies have three years to comply with the new regulations. 

Key findings from the survey include: 

  • Most water systems have not started LSL inventories. The revision requires public and private LSL inventories in preparation for remediation. The study showed that only 16 percent of water systems have inventories of 75 percent or more of the LSLs in their systems. More than half of the water systems in the survey have no LSL data at all, and 60 percent of those surveyed say they know of 25 percent or less of LSLs in the system. 
  • More than half of water systems do not have an LSL replacement plan. The LCRR states that 3 percent of identified LSLs must be replaced each year until all lead lines are remediated. Less than half of the water systems had an LSL replacement plan, and 10 percent of those systems say that their plan would not allow them to replace 3 percent of identified LSLs each year. 
  • Water systems are not yet able to publish real-time LSL inventories. A whopping 88 percent of water systems in the survey cannot meet the LCRR requirement to make the LSL inventory publicly available in real-time. 
  • Water systems are struggling to comply with the 24-hour notification rules. Only 32 percent of water systems have email addresses on file for customers, which will be necessary to comply with 24-hour notification rules if lead is detected in water. 

Facility managers interested in checking to see if they are prepared to comply can take a Preparedness Quiz here.

Dave Lubach is managing editor, facility group.


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