The City of Asheville’s Water Resources Department has been proactively preparing for changes to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lead and Copper Rule since early 2019. Now that the changes have been finalized, the City of Asheville has a strategy in place to meet three key mandates of the revised rule: the creation of a Service Line Inventory, lead testing in elementary schools and daycares, and Lead and Copper Rule sampling.
The City of Asheville’s water has consistently been verified as safe and clean, and these new regulations should not be cause for concern among our community. Customers may be impacted by construction, water quality sampling, and/or remediation practices, throughout the implementation of the revision. The City of Asheville is dedicated to providing proactive communication and transparency.
Lead can cause damage to the brain and kidneys in adults. In children under 7, it can slow development, potentially causing learning problems. For this reason, use of lead-containing solder, service lines, and plumbing components were banned in the U.S. in 1986; however, they remain in portions of the country’s drinking water infrastructure, which largely pre-dates the ban. These metals are typically found in older water systems installed in northern cities.
The City of Asheville has monitored its system for lead and copper by random sampling since 1997 and never found a significant issue. As a best practice, Asheville Water Resources treats its drinking water to reduce corrosion in water lines and household plumbing. The City of Asheville’s water has consistently exceeded EPA water quality standards. Asheville Water Quality Report.
In 1991, the EPA published a regulation to control lead and copper in drinking water. This regulation is known as the Lead and Copper Rule (also referred to as LCR). Although LCR has resulted in reductions in lead in drinking water, the EPA recently approved comprehensive revisions to the rule to strengthen its public health protections and clarify its implementation requirements. Since early 2019, the City of Asheville has been anticipating these changes and developing a strategy to implement new regulations.
March 16, 2021 -The EPA’s final rule became effective and extends a 3-year period in which utilities like the City of Asheville’s Water Resources Department are required to take any needed measures to meet the updated compliance standards. The new changes in the rule will be implemented by January 2024.
Lead and Copper Rule Sampling
June 2021 – September of 2021 – Routine compliance sampling of customer homes will take place. Kits were mailed out to customers in late May 2021. These are the same homes that have been in the City’s sampling pool since 1992 that meet the plumbing material requirements per the initial LCR.
January 2024 – December 2024 – Water customers whose homes meet the new LCRR Tier level requirements will be contacted to participate in the compliance lead and copper sampling.
Elementary School and Daycare Lead Sampling
April 2021 – Began contacting City of Asheville and Buncombe County Elementary Schools and Licensed Daycare Facilities to establish sampling plans and provide staff training for proper sample collection.
January 2024 – December 2028 Each elementary school and daycare will be sampled during this time period. Sample results will be posted on the City of Asheville Website. Sampling for lead is not required at middle schools or high schools, but any school that requests that their water be tested, the City will collect samples and post results.
Results will be provided to customers, schools and daycare providers within 72 hours of the receipt of the results from our contract laboratory.
Service Line Inventory Preparation
October 2020 – Present – Work crews are documenting the service line materials on both the customer and utility sides of the meter during routine repairs and neighborhood enhancement projects to prepare for the new Service Line Inventory required for the Lead & Copper Rule Revisions (LCRR).
Fall 2021 – Using 120Water Lead Probability Finder, water customers who meet the criteria will be sent a postcard kit with educational material about water lines in their household plumbing. The kit will have instructions on how to check your plumbing material. The card will have a URL code to scan with any smartphone camera allowing customers to enter their household and service line data.
Spring 2022 – Contract crews will be potholing at 100 customer homes to determine service line materials. Homes will be picked based on results from the probability finder database from 120Water. This database criteria is age of home, results of known service line material, and other factors.
Winter 2023 – An interactive dashboard will be available where customers can look up their address to check the service line material on the private or utility side of the meter. If the status is unknown, we ask that customers call 828-259-5962 to learn how they can update the map. All sampling results from schools and daycares will be available on the dashboard.
Service Line Inventory
The City of Asheville is conducting a survey of homes that potentially have older service lines, which could include lead or galvanized materials. If you are interested in learning more about your service line plumbing material, you can sign up for our free testing program.
We are only able to test 100 homes, so sign up to reserve your spot quickly. You will automatically be entered in a drawing to win a gift card.
Click this link to learn more and sign up.
Brenna Cook – Compliance Manager