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EPA announces changes to curb lead in drinking water

By
Daniel Uria
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced changes to the Lead and Copper Rule aimed at curbing lead in drinking water.  Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI
EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced changes to the Lead and Copper Rule aimed at curbing lead in drinking water.  Photo by Alex Edelman/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 10 (UPI) -- The Environmental Protection Agency on Thursday announced changes to a federal rule aimed at improving transparency and curbing lead levels in drinking water.

EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler unveiled the new rules that would require water systems to create and maintain a public inventory of lead service lines and repair sources of lead when a sample reaches a certain threshold and to sample drinking water at any school or childcare facility they serve.

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"President Trump is committed to ensuring that all Americans, regardless of their ZIP code, have access to clean drinking water and today's action goes a long way toward fulfilling that commitment," Wheeler said.

The Lead and Copper Rule changes would require officials to notify customers within 24 hours if a sample from their home exceeds the EPA's "action level" of 15 parts per billion.

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The Environmental Working Group's vice president for science investigations, Olga Naidenko, criticized the decision to keep the action level at 15 ppb.

"Instead of proposing a plan to protect children from the often lifelong damage caused by lead exposure, the Trump EPA is leaving communities to deal with the lead crisis on their own," Naidenko said. "In the most powerful country in the world, it should not be too much to ask that our children can grow up in a lead-free environment."

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Wheeler made the announcement in Green Bay, Wis., saying the administration hopes to "replicate what Green Bay has done" in terms of combating lead in drinking water.

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Green Bay Water Utility states it is nearing its goal of replacing all of the city's lead pipes by the end of 2020, decreasing the number of utility-owned lead services from 1,782 in 2016 to 312.

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