This editorial letter originally appeared in WQP Jan/Feb 2021 issue as "30 Years in the Making"
Welcome to the new year, readers. As I wrote in my last editorial letter, 2021 certainly does not represent a silver bullet to remedy the problems of the past year, though perhaps it does bring with it an air of optimism and change.
With a new U.S. presidential administration and more widespread COVID-19 vaccine distribution on the horizon, there may be the potential for increased travel later in the year as well as renewed interest in Washington D.C. on water issues.
One major change already arrived at the conclusion of 2020—a change that has been 30 years in the making. I am referring to the decades-old Lead and Cooper Rule, which received a long-anticipated update only days before the new year began.
The update stresses communication between water leaders and their communities and has sweeping impacts for the youngest members of our communities. Under the update, water utilities must alert customers of high lead concentrations within 24 hours of detection, rather than 30 days. And, for the first time ever, utilities will be required to test for lead in the water of schools and childcare centers. Furthermore, in areas with high lead levels, utilities will be required to replace a minimum of 3% of lead pipes, down from 7%, according to The Wall Street Journal.
While the rule update represents major change, some medical professionals and environmentalists have argued that it is not enough. One Flint, Michigan, pediatrician, Mona Hanna-Attisha, said the changes do not “reflect the science of lead exposure, which tells us there is no safe level.”
Regardless, the rule update also highlights increasing consumer and regulatory interest in water issues, notably as questions surrounding PFAS regulations continue to rise. From our readership on the ground floor helping to combat these contaminants in our drinking water, I am interested in hearing your thoughts on the rule updates as well as your predictions for 2021 legislative updates. How will these changes impact you and your business? The long-term growth of our industry? Email me your thoughts at [email protected].