In the wake of the Flint crisis, Michigan is adopting new lead water rules — the strictest in the U.S., according to Reuters. Lead service lines will have to be replaced, and the lead concentrations allowed in drinking water will be lower than the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s standard. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) Michigan Senior Policy Advocate Cyndi Roper said in a statement, “There is no safe level of lead in drinking water, so despite some troubling loopholes, these rules set an example other states and the Environmental Protection Agency could follow to address an issue plaguing water systems across the country.”
More than 18 million Americans received water through systems with lead violations in 2015, the NRDC said. Lead contamination of drinking water still troubles people across the U.S., and Michigan is taking some action. Their new Lead and Copper Rule, as laid out in a statement from Governor Rick Snyder, lowers the level of allowable lead to 12 parts per billion (ppb) in 2025. The EPA’s Lead Action Level is 15 ppb.
All public water systems will be required to replace lead service lines at a rate averaging 5 percent a year starting in 2021 during a 20-year period. The rules also require a second sample collection at locations that obtain water from lead service lines and the creation of a statewide water system advisory council. All public water systems will have to conduct asset inventory under the new rules as well.
“The new Michigan Lead and Copper Rule is the most stringent in the world when applied to cities with lead pipes, yet it strikes a reasonable balance between cost and benefit,” Virginia Tech University engineering professor Marc Edwards said in the governor’s statement. “It provides the EPA with a good exemplar to follow, if they ever begin to wage their long-promised war on lead in water.”