March 2, 2021 – SACRAMENTO – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra joined a lawsuit against a nationwide overhauled Trump era on Monday Standards for the control and remediation of lead in drinking water. While the final rule includes certain necessary updates to the existing standard, these changes are overshadowed by the unlawful weakening of critical requirements and the rule’s failure to protect the public from lead in drinking water as required by law. In the lawsuit, the coalition argues that the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) update of the lead and copper rule is arbitrary, capricious, and inconsistent with the Safe Drinking Water Act’s ban on weakening existing drinking water standards.
“We cannot be satisfied with weak measures when the health of our communities is at stake.” said Attorney General Becerra. “Clean water is an essential right. Yet millions of Americans are exposed to dangerous levels of lead in their drinking water every year. It’s unacceptable. We owe it to our children to use strict standards to keep this toxic metal out of our faucets. “
The Lead and Copper Rule is designed to protect public health and safety by reducing harmful exposure to lead and copper in drinking water. Lead exposure disproportionately affects low-income and colored communities. Lead, a highly toxic heavy metal, can damage almost every organ and body system. It’s especially dangerous for children as their developing brain and nervous system are more sensitive to its harmful effects. Lead exposure can cause a number of health problems, including premature birth, learning difficulties, retarded physical development in children, and cardiovascular and kidney problems in adults.
Most lead enters drinking water from corroded pipes, faucets, and fittings that contain lead or brass, and is fortified when the water is high in acidity or low in mineral content. The American Water Works Association estimates that there are 6.1 million lead service lines in the United States, including approximately 65,000 lead service lines in California. Dangerous levels of lead are disproportionately high in environmental justice communities that have older houses and do not have the financial means to remove old lead pipes and fittings.
According to the Safe Drinking Water Act, any “revision of a national drinking water regulation”. . . must maintain the health protection of people or ensure better protection. “In addition, all requirements issued for drinking water treatment must“ prevent known or anticipated adverse effects on human health as much as possible ”. However, with the revision of the lead and copper rule, the EPA is weakening the rate at which water systems must replace existing lead supply lines from 7 to 3 percent per year. The EPA also concludes that the revisions will not disproportionately affect the environmental justice communities, although all that is required is full pipeline replacement in communities where owners have the resources to cover the expense of replacing the private part of the municipalities to cover Lead Service Line.
Attorney General Becerra joins attorneys general of New York, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and the District of Columbia in filing today’s lawsuit.
A copy of the lawsuit can be found here.
Source: CA. DOJ