The $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act that passed the House last week provides $15 billion for the replacement of lead service lines in the country’s drinking water system. This funding is coming just in time, as a new survey shows that the majority of water systems are not ready for the sweeping new regulatory changes governing safe drinking water that are expected to begin December 16, 2021, according to 120Water, the solutions provider for managing lead programs.
120Water surveyed more than 200 water utility professionals about their readiness to meet the new Lead and Copper Rule Revision (LCRR), the first regulatory changes in nearly 30 years. The LCR revisions create challenges for state agencies and water systems that must take new steps in order to keep the public safe from lead in drinking water, and gives these entities just three years to comply.
“New regulatory programs require an incredible amount of resources, including funding, staff and technology,” said Megan Glover, CEO of 120Water. “The funding available through the infrastructure bill should help alleviate some of the burden imposed by new regulatory requirements on utilities and enable them to move forward to meet the requirements of the LCRR.”
Key findings of the study include:
- Most water systems have not started lead service line inventories. The LCRR requires water systems to conduct public and private lead service line (LSL) inventories in preparation for remediation. The 120Water study shows that only 16% of water systems have inventories of 75% or more of the lead service lines in their systems. More than half of water systems surveyed said they have no data on LSLs at all; 60% say they know of 25% or less of LSLs in the system.
- More than half of water systems do not have an LSL replacement plan. As part of the LCRR, 3% of identified LSLs must be replaced each year until all lead lines are remediated. Less than half of the systems surveyed had an LSL replacement plan, and 10% of those systems say that their plan would not allow them to replace 3% of identified LSLs each year, as required.
- Water systems are not yet able to publish realtime LSL inventories. 88% of water systems say they cannot meet the LCRR requirement to make the lead service line inventory publicly available in real-time.
- Water systems are struggling to comply with 24-hour notification rules. Only 32% 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 drinking water.
“Water systems are in the business of providing safe drinking water to their customers. With the additional funding available through the infrastructure bill, they will be able to invest in the programs, people and technology necessary to build resilient communities now and into the future,” said Glover.
To see how prepared you are to comply with the proposed revisions, take the Preparedness Quiz here.