Get lead out of our drinking water

What's At Stake

It’s 2023 — but millions of people across the country still drink water that passes through lead pipes, putting countless communities at risk of harmful lead contamination. Tell the Environmental Protection Agency to keep lead out of our drinking water.

Lead is especially dangerous for children, infants, and fetuses. Even in small amounts, it can cause permanent and irreversible harm to the central nervous system, resulting in learning difficulties, hearing and speech impediments, developmental delays, and other lifelong impairments. In adults, exposure can lead to cardiovascular disease, decreased kidney function, and miscarriage. There is no safe level of lead exposure. And yet, even though Congress banned the installation of lead pipes in 1986, water to tens of millions of people is still delivered through them.

Lead service lines naturally corrode when water flows through them. This corrosion causes toxic lead to leach into our faucet water.

There are laws on the books designed to protect us from lead and other harmful contaminants in our drinking water. In the case of lead, the most important regulation is the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), which the EPA administers nationwide. The explicit goal of the LCR is to significantly minimize levels of lead at the tap, but 30 years later, millions are still exposed to lead from their faucets.

The original LCR from 1993 was not updated for decades and failed to protect communities from lead contaminated water. The Trump administration revised it, but their revisions were not enough – it remained completely ineffective, which is why Earthjustice sued EPA over this rule. Now, EPA has filed a court motion saying it will no longer defend the rule and revisions, and instead will reassess their approach as they develop a new rule. The EPA plans to consider several changes, most importantly mandating lead service line replacement for all such lines across the country. EPA also plans to consider prioritizing overburdened communities and requiring action from water utilities at lower lead levels than currently required. This new rule is proposed to come in September 2023. We need to work together to ensure EPA delivers a protective rule for communities dealing with lead in their drinking water.

The water infrastructure in many communities is decades old and in desperate need of safe, lead-free pipes and fixtures. Many of these towns disproportionately affected by contaminated water are communities of color, further underscoring environmental injustices Black and Brown communities face daily.

It’s time the country gets serious about lead in drinking water once and for all. We won’t settle for anything less than strong rules to protect our nation’s water. Urge the EPA to be bold and put out a rule that expedites and requires the removal of all lead service lines across the country at no cost to consumers and takes other meaningful steps to prevent lead poisoning from drinking water.

"Dropping" by Ceyhun (Jay) Isik/
Children in Flint, Michigan, have been poisoned by lead in the city's tap water. (Ceyhun (Jay) Isik/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Delivery to EPA Administrator Michael Regan

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Your Actions Matter

Your messages make a difference, even if we have leaders who don't want to listen. Here's why.

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We need you to join us — your specific experiences, knowledge, and voice are crucial to add to the Administrative Record through the comment periods.

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Many of us may have never heard of the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), but laws like these require our government to ask the public to weigh in before agencies adopt or change regulations.

Regulations essentially describe how federal agencies will carry out laws — including decisions that could undermine science, or weaken safeguards on public health.

Public comments are collected at various points throughout the federal government’s rulemaking process, including when a regulation is proposed and finalized. (Learn about the rulemaking process.) These comments become part of the official, legal public record — the “Administrative Record.”

When the public responds with a huge outpouring of support for environmental protections, these individual messages collectively undercut politicians' attempts to claim otherwise.

What this means is each of us can take a role in shaping the rules our government creates — and ensuring those rules are fair and effective.