LDA Engineering offers tips to help Tennessee water system operators comply with new EPA water line rules

February 28, 2024

With looming deadlines in 2024 for U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) compliance regarding lead and copper water lines, LDA Engineering experts are offering guidance to help operators of public water systems comply while educating the public about the importance of the regulations.

“Having safe and reliable tap water is something we take for granted in the U.S., but it doesn’t happen by accident,” LDA Engineering CEO Jason Brooks said. “As our team works every day to build stronger, happier communities, we are dedicated to helping water providers by demystifying the lead and copper line regulations and creating a plan to become compliant. Safe water benefits us all.” 

Since 1991, the EPA has provided rules to limit and monitor lead and copper for the more than 60,000 public water systems across the country. In 2022, those rules were expanded in the Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR), which dictates that water providers must be in compliance by Oct. 16, 2024.

The LCRR requirements include that public water systems create and publicly share information about the lead service lines in use and develop a plan to replace them, as well as improving sampling and reliability across the board, including for schools and childcare facilities.

Additionally, the EPA has proposed Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI). According to the EPA website, LCRI “is a major advancement in protecting children and adults from the significant, and irreversible, health effects from being exposed to lead in drinking water. These advancements are based on the science and existing practices utilized by drinking water systems.”

In order to prepare for these requirements, LDA Engineering advises utilities to:

  • Start reducing unknown service lines by gathering existing records and tracking any current maintenance or construction activities that may reveal service line materials.
  • Coordinate with and brief active contractors now on the LCRI requirements. They can help confirm materials as part of their work activities.
  • Investigate funding opportunities to help with the required replacement plan.

LCRI specifics were publicly discussed in January for feedback on the improvements, which provide for lead pipes to be completely replaced within 10 years, as well as rules for locating lead pipes, sample testing and lowering the presence of lead in drinking water.

It is estimated that large water systems may have to replace 40% of lines to remove lead lines from water networks.

“We’ve heard of large-scale breakdowns in water safety, such as citizen exposure to lead poisoning in water in places like Flint, Michigan,” Brooks said. “We want to be part of the solution to help water providers lower lead levels and keep communities safe.”

It is anticipated that the LCRI replacement rules, once finalized after public input, will go into effect around the same time as the LCRR line identification deadline in October 2024. That will start the 10-year countdown to the replacement of lead water lines and other activities outlined by the EPA.

LDA Engineering will offer client services, including outreach, data collection for lead pipe identification, sampling and compliance consultation, and replacement plan consultation, as well as public reporting tools and education to assist public water service providers comply with the EPA regulations. 

Follow the firm on social media at @LDAEngineering or visit ldainc.com for more information.

About LDA Engineering

For 40 years, LDA Engineering has worked to build stronger, happier communities through sustainable, creative and economic infrastructure solutions. The employee-owned civil engineering firm supports private companies, municipalities and contractors across the Southeast, with offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga, Tri-Cities, Nashville, Memphis and Charlotte. Through its LDA Services division, the company provides cutting-edge geomatics and surveying services and B2B contract implementation. The LDA Fiber division develops high-speed fiber systems for telecommunications and infrastructure clients to meet the need of public and private investments to expand the reach of dependable, high-speed internet. For more information about LDA Engineering’s community-first culture and services, visit LDAinc.com.