Drinking Water

EPA Provides Almost $1 Billion for Drinking Water


States, territories and tribes will share more than $940 million from three EPA grant programs to support the quality and security of the nation's drinking water. The water supplies for more than 270 million people will benefit from the funding. More than $837 million will support Drinking Water State Revolving Funds programs, which help states, territories and tribes finance infrastructure improvements to public water systems. Federal capitalization grants fund low-interest loans to public water systems. Eligible projects include upgrades to treatment facilities, certain storage facilities and distribution systems.

Another $98 million in grants will fund the Public Water Supervision System. This system operates under the Safe Drinking Water Act and provides resources to implement and enforce drinking water regulations and programs. At the same time the agency is announcing tentative allotments of $99,099,000 in the proposed FY 2007 budget.

Finally, EPA will provide $5 million in FY 2006 counter-terrorism grants to states and territories. The grants will help provide drinking water utilities with technical assistance and training to improve the readiness of first responders at drinking water systems, including practicing emergency response and recovery plans. .

States, territories, and tribes may apply for funding through their EPA regional offices.

For more information, contact Veronica Blette, (202) 564-4094 /blette.veronica@epa.gov or visit the following websites:

Public Water Supervision System:http://www.epa.gov/safewater/pws/grants/

Drinking Water State Revolving Funds:http://www.epa.gov/safewater/dwsrf/allotments/

Counter-terrorism funding:http://cfpub.epa.gov/safewater/watersecurity/financeassist.cfm

EPA to Strengthen Protection from Lead in Drinking Water

March 2005 -- EPA is initiating the Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan to strengthen, update and clarify existing requirements for water utilities and states to test for and reduce lead in drinking water.  This action, which follows extensive analysis and assessment of current implementation of these regulations, will tighten monitoring, treatment, lead service line management and customer awareness.  The plan also addresses lead in tap water in schools and child care facilities to further protect vulnerable populations.

This plan will increase the accuracy and consistency of monitoring and reporting, and it ensures that where there is a problem, people will be notified and the problem will be dealt with quickly and properly. From 1995-2004, states have concluded 1,753 enforcement actions to ensure compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), and EPA has concluded 570.  Under the Safe Drinking Water Act, state agencies take a lead role in enforcing the LCR. Lead is a highly toxic metal that was used for many years in products found in and around homes.  Even at low levels, lead may cause a range of health effects including behavioral problems and learning disabilities.  Children six years old and under are most at risk because this is when the brain is developing.  The primary source of lead exposure for most children is lead-based paint in older homes.  Lead in drinking water adds to that exposure. Drinking water does not start out containing lead. 

Lead is picked up as water passes through pipes and household plumbing fittings and fixtures that contain lead.  Water leaches lead from these sources and becomes contaminated.  In 1991, to reduce lead in drinking water, EPA issued the LCR.  The LCR requires water utilities to reduce lead contamination by controlling the corrosiveness of water and, as needed, replace lead service lines used to carry water from the street to the home.

Under the LCR, if 10 percent of required sampling show lead levels above a 15 parts per billion (ppb) action level, the utility must 1) take a number of actions to control corrosion and 2) carry out public education to inform consumers of actions they can take to reduce their exposure to lead.  If lead levels continue to be elevated after anti-corrosion treatment is installed, the utility must replace lead service lines.

Because virtually all lead enters water after it leaves the main system to enter individual homes and buildings, the LCR is the only drinking water regulation that requires utilities to test water at the tap.  This also means that individual homes will have different levels of lead in their tap water due to the age or condition of pipes, plumbing materials and fixtures or other factors.  For this reason, customer awareness and education are important components of the LCR and state and water utilities lead reduction programs.

EPA plans to propose regulatory changes to the LCR in the following areas by early 2006:

In addition, the agency will convene a workshop in mid-2005 to discuss actions that can be taken to reduce the lead content of plumbing fittings and fixtures.  EPA will also promote research in key areas, such as alternative approaches to tap monitoring and techniques for lead service line replacement.

The Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan arose from EPAs analysis of the current adequacy of LCR and state and local implementation.  From 2004-2005, EPA collected and analyzed lead concentration data and other information required by the regulations; carried out a review of implementation in states; held four expert workshops to further discuss elements of the regulations, and worked to better understand local and state efforts to monitor for lead in school drinking water, including convening a national meeting to discuss challenges and needs.

EPA's review of state and utility implementation shows that the LCR has been effective in more than 96 percent of water systems that serve 3,300 people or more.  EPA will add elements and actions to the Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan as needed based on results of any further research, analysis, and evaluation.

Source: EPA, Contact: John Millett, 202-564-7842 / millett.john@epa.gov

More information on National Review of LCR Implementation and Drinking Water Lead Reduction Plan is available online at:


Information aboutlead in drinking water is available online at: http://www.epa.gov/safewater/lead  or by calling the Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.  Information about lead around the home is available online at:  http://www.epa.gov/lead  or from EPA's National Lead Information Center (NLIC) at 1-800-424-LEAD (5323).