The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has put another delay on a Trump-era update to a rule governing lead and copper in drinking water, according to a new federal register notice.
The notice says that the rule, which was previously expected to take effect on Thursday, will now take effect on December 16. It also pushed back the date at which it requires compliance by one month until October 16, 2024.
The Trump changes to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) are expected to quicken the speed at which cities need to notify people who may have been exposed to lead but give utilities a longer timeline to replace lead-tainted service lines.
The rule was originally expected to go into effect in March, but it was first delayed until this week before the latest move to push it until December.
The EPA’s website says that the further delay is part of its effort to “take the time necessary to review the LCR Revisions and ensure that it protects families and communities.”
The Biden White House has identified the Trump rule as one of dozens it would seek to review.
The Trump administration’s rule would require monitoring for lead at primary schools and child care centers. It would also require cities to notify residents of potential lead exposure within 24 hours.
However, the rule extends the amount of time utilities have to replace the lead service lines that connect homes to the water supply. Critics argue that the extension could allow lead-tainted pipes to remain underground for another 30 years.
The rule also does not enact a stricter limit on lead levels in water, which advocates say is necessary to protect health. The rule creates a 10 parts per billion (ppb) “trigger” level at which cities would need to reevaluate their water treatment processes and possibly add corrosion-control chemicals to city water.
But it keeps the previously set 15 ppb level that requires cities to begin replacing the nation's lead service lines that connect homes to city water supplies — the underlying source of lead contamination.
Exposure to lead can harm children’s health and cause brain and nervous system damage, slowed growth and development and issues with learning, behavior, hearing and speech.