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Water: Lead & Copper Rule

Lead and Copper Rule


Lead and copper enter drinking water primarily through plumbing materials. Exposure to lead and copper may cause health problems ranging from stomach distress to brain damage. On June 7, 1991, EPA published a regulation to control lead and copper in drinking water. This regulation is known as the Lead and Copper Rule (also referred to as the LCR or 1991 Rule).

The treatment technique for the rule requires systems to monitor drinking water at customer taps. If lead concentrations exceed an action level of 15 ppb or copper concentrations exceed an action level of 1.3 ppm in more than 10% of customer taps sampled, the system must undertake a number of additional actions to control corrosion. If the action level for lead is exceeded, the system must also inform the public about steps they should take to protect their health and may have to replace lead service lines under their control.

Current Regulation and Quick Reference Guides

Long-Term Revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule

This section is a reference for the public regarding the long-term revisions to the LCR. Here you will find links and information regarding public outreach, and opportunities for public participation in the revisions process.

The goal for the LCR Long-Term Revisions is to improve public health protection provided by the LCR by making substantive changes based on topics that were identified in the 2004 National Review, and to streamline the rule requirements. Example categories of potential changes to the rule include:

  • Sample site collection criteria and sampling procedures for lead and copper tap monitoring
  • Corrosion control treatment and water quality parameter monitoring requirements
  • Lead service line replacement requirements
  • Schools and day care facilities
  • Consecutive system requirements
  • Potentially outdated requirements, rule relevancy and simplicity for systems


Stakeholder Meetings
National Drinking Water Advisory Council Lead and Copper Rule Working Group

Reduction of Lead in Drinking Water Act of 2011
Stakeholder Meeting Concerning EPA's Long-Term Revisions to the Regulation of Lead and Copper in Drinking Water

Tribal Consultations

Notification of Upcoming Consultation with Indian Tribes

EPA is initiating consultation and coordination with Indian Tribes on the proposed revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). The LCR applies to all public water systems as defined under the Safe Drinking Water Act. Any revisions to the LCR would also impact a tribal government that has primary enforcement authority (primacy) for public water systems on tribal lands. Additional details and background information regarding this consultation can be found in the Tribal Notification Letter.

EPA will be holding a national tribal consultation teleconference. Meeting details are below.

  • Date: Thursday, December 1, 2011 from 1:00 - 2:30pm EST.
  • Tele-conference call-in number: 1-866-299-3188
  • Conference code: 2025644689

Environmental Justice

2007 Revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule

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Rule-Making History

In 2004, EPA published minor corrections to the Lead and Copper Rule to reinstate text that was inadvertently dropped from the rule during previous revisions.

In 2000, EPA published revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule to address implementation problems and issues arising from legal challenges to the 1991 rule. The revisions also streamlined and reduced monitoring and reporting burden.

In 1991, EPA published the Lead and Copper Rule to minimize lead and copper in drinking water. The rule replaced the previous standard of 50 ppb, measured at the entry point to the distribution system. The rule established a maximum contaminant level goal (MCLG) of zero for lead in drinking water and a treatment technique to reduce corrosion within the distribution system.

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