i_wrrc_2016a_2016-09-20t10:00:14z3 Hearing Summary
Lead in Drinking Water Systems
WATER RESOURCES REVIEW COMMITTEE
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01:32 PM -- Lead in Drinking Water Systems
The committee came back to order.
Ron Falco, Drinking Water Program Manager, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE), introduced himself to the committee and distributed two handouts providing information about lead in drinking water (Attachments F and G). Mr. Falco discussed what entities fall under the Lead Rule in the Safe Drinking Water Act and provided common sources of lead in the state. He stated that drinking water is the most common source of lead, but that also lead-based paint, certain home remedies, duster oils, mining, and plumbing can also result in lead exposure. Excess lead exposure is related to developmental problems in young children but can also result in more long term heath problems for adults. Lead most often enters drinking water from drinking water infrastructure and residential plumbing; however, there is little information regarding the water quality in those components. The amount of lead in the drinking water depends on various factors, such as how long the water has been in the pipes. Mr. Falco explained the Lead-Copper Rule of the 1991 Safe Drinking Water Act and explained that the rule does not apply to water systems for schools. Mr. Falco described how lead in drinking water is regulated throughout the state. In response to a question from the committee, Mr. Falco explained how local entities control lead in drinking water and how each municipality takes steps to prevent health impacts from high lead levels in the drinking water.
Attachment F.pdf Attachment G.pdf
Jennifer Robbinett, Drinking Water Compliance Assurance Section Manager, CDPHE, explained that schools and daycares are not subject to the lead rule and are not required to test their drinking water for lead. Ms. Robbinett stated that there are schools that have started their own lead sampling, without coordination with CDPHE and explained that other school districts that are not currently testing for lead in the water are encouraged to contact their local water suppliers. Ms. Robbinett stated that schools and daycares are required to notify CDPHE and parents and the school community if there is lead in the drinking water; however, there currently are no schools with lead levels in the drinking water.
Mr. Falco discussed the challenges for water providers to sample and test the drinking water for lead in compliance with the lead rule. Mr. Falco stated that CDPHE has been working closely with the EPA and water systems to ensure that there is not dangerous levels of lead in the water. CDPHE also recently participated in a national conversation about how the lead rule can be improved. Mr. Falco discussed how CDPHE can help raise awareness about harmful contaminants in the drinking water in the future.
Mr. Falco responded to questions from the committee regarding complications of the lead rule and how CDPHE and schools interact in testing for lead in the drinking water. Mr. Falco also explained why schools and daycares were excluded from the lead rule. He stated that the rule only applies to public drinking water systems, so private buildings such as schools are not subject to the rule. Mr. Falco explained options for schools and homes that have discovered lead in the drinking water in response to questions from the committee. Mr. Falco explained how the lead levels in the drinking water from Flint, Michigan, were lowered, which included a change in the source of the drinking water and erosion treatment of the water service infrastructure.
Sarah Bahrman, Acting Director, Water Program, U.S. Envrionmental Protection Agency, discussed actions that the EPA is taking regarding lead levels in areas that have tested positive for lead. Ms. Bahrman responded to questions from the committee regarding what water systems are required to do if there are high lead levels in that system and what role the EPA plays in resolving that issue. She explained that there is federal funding available to restore drinking water quality through the state's revolving fund. Ms. Bahrman explained various educational outreach methods taken by the EPA to address lead levels in drinking water. Committee discussion ensued.
Ms. Bahrman explained that EPA is in the process of revising the lead-copper rule of the Safe Drinking Water Act, and explained that states are required to adopt any revision. The state's rule may be more stringent than the EPA rule, but the must be at least as stringent as the federal rule. The regulation must be adopted within three years. Ms. Bahrman explained that EPA has a guidance document for schools in order to educate schools on how to test for lead in the drinking water and what actions to take if high levels are found.