1 year before ‘lead and copper’ water rule changes – EPA

© Nguyen Huy Kham
The Office of Water at the US Environmental Protection Agency will update its rule on lead and copper contamination at some point in 2017, the office’s acting chief told Congress on Wednesday.

Joel Beauvais assured the House Energy and Commerce Committee that EPA regulators “certainly have a sense of urgency” and “want to get them right” in his testimony regarding rules designed to keep drinking water safe from lead and copper poisoning, Associated Press reported.

Only six months have passed since Flint, Michigan’s lead-contaminated water crisis became a nationwide story, and not all members of the committee were comforted by EPA water office chief Beauvais’ testimony.

Chairman of the committee Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan) said a whole year was “a long way off.”

The city of Flint, straining from budgetary woes, switched its drinking water source away from the Detroit system two years ago this month. Drawing from the Flint River instead, no chemical treatment was used and the new water source began wreaking havoc on old pipes, resulting in lead contaminating the drinking water. Some 100,000 residents were affected, while hundreds, mostly children, were left with elevated levels of lead in their blood, which is known to cause disabilities.

Beauvais, who told lawmakers on Wednesday the EPA has been “actively working on revisions” for over two years, said proposals to change to the “lead and copper rule,” part of the federal Safe Water Drinking Act, would come next year, while a finalized rule would still take months after those proposals are considered.

At a hearing last month, EPA chief Gina McCarthy said the rules “definitely need clarification, they need to be strengthened, and we’re taking a look at that.”