Reducing lead from distribution systems

What we track

Blue Accounting is sharing progress and the level of consistency among governments as they implement policies to reduce population exposure to lead in drinking water.

Water distribution systems and lead

After treatment, drinking water must be distributed to water customers through piping owned by the drinking water supplier to the privately-owned plumbing lines of homes and businesses. Lead may be released from lead pipes, faucets, and fixtures with these materials most likely found in housing stock built before 1986. In the United States, drinking water systems are regulated by the Safe Drinking Water Act. The regulations governing how systems are to address lead and copper within distribution piping were revised in 2021, although the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (U.S. EPA) has acknowledged that more should be done.

Why it matters

There is no safe level of lead in a child’s blood. As such, in the United States, the non-enforceable health goal, known as the “maximum contaminant level goal” is zero. Lead accumulates in our bodies over time with children particularly at risk for potential disabilities. The U.S. EPA estimates that drinking water may account for 20% or more of a person’s total exposure to lead. Additional sources of lead include paint, dust, soil, air, and even food.

U.S. EPA website accessed on May 20, 2022

Lead Inventory Status by Jurisdiction

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This policy comparison includes policy indicators derived from the U.S. Lead and Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR) under the Safe Drinking Water Act and the EPA’s intended Lead and Copper Rule Improvements (LCRI). Additional policy indicators were collaboratively developed by the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Legislative Caucus (GLLC) from 2018-2020.

Policy indicators are marked with an asterisk (*) if the GLLC model policy goes beyond what is required by the LCRR, and marked with a caret (^) to denote LCRI-derived indicators.


Jurisdiction adopts this policy indicator

Jurisdiction does not adopt this policy indicator

Jurisdiction partially adopts this policy indicator

 Policy IndicatorIL

Action level exceedances must be reported to consumers
Testing results must be reported to local public health agencies

TestingSchools and childcare facilities are required to test for lead*
Action level is at or below 12 ppb*^
Action level is at or below 5 ppb for schools and childcare facilities*^

InfrastructureService line material inventory is required

Partial lead service line replacement is prohibited*