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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

2007 Final Revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule


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Rule-Making History

In 2006 EPA published proposed revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule.

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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