Lead and Copper Rule
The primary source of lead and copper in drinking water is copper pipes, lead solder used to join copper pipes, lead service lines and customer's residential plumbing and fixtures. Service lines are the pipes that carry water from the water main to the customer's meter (owned by the utility) and lines that carry water from the meter to the customers home (owned by the customer). The use of lead service lines and lead containing plumbing are typically found in older homes and historic residential areas. The use of lead service lines in public drinking water systems occurred well into the 1950s. Public water systems have some knowledge of where lead service lines have been used but the exact numbers of lines is not usually known. The Federal and State's lead and copper rule, under most circumstances, does not require removal of lead material. It requires adjustment of water chemistry and monitoring to insure metals leaching is not occurring.
The lead and copper rule establishes criteria for monitoring and treatment of public drinking water systems to protect public health. This rule establishes a treatment technique to address lead and copper levels. Instead of a maximum contaminant level, an action level is established which if exceeded requires a public water system to take actions to reduce corrosivity of water and reduce leaching of metals from plumbing into the water. The most common water treatments involve adjusting pH and alkalinity to reduce solubility and affect calcium deposition on pipes or the addition of phosphate products to provide a physical barrier between pipes and the water.
The lead and copper rule requires public water systems to collect customer tap samples from sites served by the system that are more likely to have plumbing materials containing lead. If more than 10 percent of tap water samples exceed the lead action level of 15 parts per billion, then water systems are required to take additional actions including:
- Taking further steps optimize their corrosion control treatment (for water systems serving 50,000 people that have not fully optimized their corrosion control).
- Educating the public about lead in drinking water and actions consumers can take to reduce their exposure to lead.
- Replacing the portions of lead service lines (lines that connect distribution mains to customers) under the water system's control.
To obtain information on lead levels found in your drinking water, contact TDEC or your local public water system provider. Follow the web links below to obtain additional information regarding lead in drinking water and steps you can take to reduce lead exposure from all sources.
Drinking Water Customers:
- Basic Information about Lead in Drinking Water
- Identifying lead service lines
- General Info on lead exposure (multi-media) and health effects
- Cleaning faucet aerators
- Actions to reduce lead in drinking water
- Lead in Drinking Water at Schools and Child Care Facilities
- Quick reference guide for schools
- TN Department of Health lead exposure and prevention
- U.S. Center for Disease Control lead information
Drinking Water Systems
- Lead and Copper Rule Fact Sheet
- EPA lead and copper sampling Instructions
- Lead and Copper Customer Sample Report and Certification Sheet
- EPA LCR Compliance help for water systems
- Lead and Copper Control Strategies
- Tools for Evaluating Impacts of Treatment Changes on Lead and Copper Rule Compliance (See Appendix D)
- Evaluating Treatment changes related to DBP control (See Section 4)
- Public Education Guidance
- Sample Site Selection Primer
- Optimal Corrosion Control Treatment Evaluation Technical Recommendations