The Massachusetts Drinking Water Regulations, 310 CMR 22.00
These regulations protect public water supply sources in Massachusetts. They make sure that our drinking water is safe, fit, and pure.
The Lead and Copper Rule
The Lead and Copper Rule is a federal regulation implemented by the US EPA and state environmental agencies. MassDEP administers the Rule in Massachusetts.
- aims to minimize the ingestion of lead and copper through drinking water, by reducing the corrosiveness of finished water.
- applies to all Community and Non-Transient Non-Community Water Systems statewide (approximately 800 systems in Massachusetts).
There is no maximum contaminant level for lead. However, the Rule does establish an Action Level and a corrosion-control Treatment Technique for both lead and copper.
- The Action Level for lead is 0.015 milligrams per liter (mg/L), a.k.a. 15 parts per billion (ppb).
- The Action Level is compared to the 90th percentile value of all sampling results collected during each monitoring period. This means that the Action level is triggered if more than 10 out of 100 samples taken exceed 15 ppb.
- Exceeding the Action Level is not a violation.
- If the 90th percentile value exceeds the lead action level, additional actions are required (further described below):
- Collect additional water quality data, including a sample of the source water
- Conduct public education
- Evaluate corrosion control treatment and install it if needed. If corrosion control treatment was in place at time of exceedance, begin lead line replacements.
Public water suppliers work with MassDEP to develop a sampling plan. This sampling plan is based on an evaluation of materials used in the distribution system and service lines. The sampling plan identifies service locations (single and multi-family residences) that are most likely to have high levels of lead due to the presence of lead service lines, lead interior plumbing, or copper pipes with lead solder.
- The number of samples that need to be collected depends on the population served. For example, a public water system that serves less than 100 people must collect 5 samples, whereas a system that serves over 100,000 people must collect 100 samples.
- The water supplier asks homeowners/occupants to volunteer to collect water samples from taps at the identified service locations (taps must be in regular use, such as kitchen taps); these samples must be analyzed by a state-certified laboratory.
- Water suppliers must provide the test results to all owners and/or occupants of homes and buildings sampled for lead (whether they are above or below the action level).
- Initially, water suppliers must collect one set of samples during two consecutive 6-month periods. If the water supply does not exceed the Action Levels during those two six-month periods, the system is eligible for annual monitoring, rather than semi-annual. Water suppliers on annual monitoring can apply for a waiver to go to a 3-year monitoring schedule if they have 3 annual monitoring periods without exceeding the Action Levels.
If the system exceeds the Action Level:
- The system must go back to semi-annual monitoring until the 90th percentile results are below the Action Level for two consecutive six-month periods.
- The water supplier must take all applicable follow-up actions:
- Collect additional water quality parameters (pH, alkalinity, calcium, conductivity, orthophosphate, silica, and temperature) during the monitoring period in which the lead action level was exceeded - if the water supplier is not already collecting this information. These parameters can help to determine if corrosion control treatment is operating properly or to develop an optimal corrosion control treatment if one isn’t currently in place.
- Submit an optimal corrosion control treatment recommendation to the state if the water suppler has not already done so. Systems serving more than 50,000 customers have all submitted these recommendations.
- Collect a source water lead sample to determine if the source water is contributing to the elevated lead levels.
- Conduct public education to inform all consumers about steps that the water supplier has taken, steps that the consumer should take to protect their health, and to let the consumer know that they may have to replace lead service lines under their control.
- If the system has corrosion control in place and has still exceeded the lead action level, the water supplier must update its material evaluation to identify all lead service lines and goosenecks and replace 7 percent of these service lines within 12 months of the exceedance, and continue this practice until monitoring results no longer exceed the lead action level.
A public water system that has exceeded the Action Level is in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule when the system fulfills all required follow-up actions listed above within the timelines laid out in the Rule. If the system fails to take any of the required follow-up actions, the system has violated the Rule and MassDEP begins enforcement actions.
MassDEP works very closely with US EPA Region 1 on implementation of the Safe Drinking Water Act, including implementation of the Lead and Copper Rule. This includes routine reporting of the Rule data to EPA. EPA Region 1 is also working closely with all the New England states to gather additional information and provide assistance and guidance.
The Lead Contamination Control Act
As noted above under the discussion of lead in schools, the Lead Contamination Control Act aims to reduce lead in the drinking water of schools and childcare facilities.
All Community Water Systems are required by Massachusetts Drinking Water Regulations to collect lead and copper samples from at least two schools or early education and care facilities that they serve in each sampling period, when they collect their Lead and Copper Rule samples.
Early education and care facilities with routine plumbing changes are encouraged to collect and analyze additional samples to complete an evaluation of all taps within their facility at least once every three years.
MassDEP also works closely with the Massachusetts Department of Public Health Bureau of Environmental Health, which oversees a program that requires blood-lead-level screening for all children between the ages of 9 and 12 months and again between 2 and 3 years. In high-risk communities, children are tested again at age 4. The Bureau of Environmental Health provides a summary of these results.