Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) Sampling

Where to collect samples and sampling tiers explained



Where to Collect Samples for Lead and Copper and Sampling Tiers (310 CMR 22.06 B)


The lead and copper regulations require you to sample at locations that may be particularly susceptible to high lead or copper concentrations. The LCR establishes a tiering system for prioritizing sampling sites. A materials evaluation is required to help classify sampling sites into tiers. You must perform a materials evaluation before you begin lead and copper tap monitoring. The table below defines the tiering system for prioritizing sampling sites.

Tiering Classifications

If you are a community public water system (CWS):

  • Tier 1
    • 1A: Single family residences (SFR) with lead service lines (LSL)
    • 1A2: Multi-family residences (MFRs) with LSL if >20% of connections served by PWS are MFRs
    • 1A3: Lead goosenecks/pigtails
    • 1B: SFRs with lead/tin solder; built in 1983, 1984, or 1985
    • 1B2: SFRs with verified lead/tin solder; built in 1986 or later
  • Tier 2
    • 2C: MFRs with LSL
    • 2D: MFRs with lead/tin solder; built 1983, 1984, or 1985
    • 2E: Private building with LSL
    • 2F: Private building with lead pipe or copper pipe installed in 1983, 1984, or 1985
  • Tier 3
    • 3G: SFRs built prior to 1983
    • 3H: Other/exceptional cases

If you are a non-transient non-community public water system (NTNC):

  • Tier 1 sampling sites consist of buildings:
    • with copper pipes with lead solder installed after 1982 but before 1986; and/or
    • with copper pipes with verified lead solder installed after 1985 (but before June 19, 1988 - the effective date of Massachusetts’ lead ban).; and/or
    • that are served by a lead service line.
  • Tier 2 sampling sites consist of buildings with copper pipes with lead solder installed before 1983.
  • Tier 3 sampling consist of representative sites throughout the distribution system.  A representative site is a site in which the plumbing materials used at that site would be commonly found at other sites served by the water system.

Note: Because buildings constructed from January 1, 1986 - June 19, 1988 may have used lead solder, the solder must be tested with a test kit and verified to contain lead before the site can be used in the sampling plan.  

Once monitoring begins, you must use the same sites, unless a site is no longer accessible to you or no longer fits the requirements of a priority site (e.g., the lead service lines that served the site have been removed).

The 2002 Lead and Copper Rule Minor Revisions (LCRMR) specify that sites that are chosen for reduced monitoring (i.e., monitoring that is conducted at a 1-year, 3-year, or 9-year frequency) must be representative of those sites that were used during standard monitoring. The LCR did not contain language regarding which sites should be used for reduced monitoring. The revised rule also gives states the choice to determine which sample locations you must use. It is MassDEP’s policy to place all results from the latest sampling round in ascending order starting with the lowest lead level and then select every odd numbered site for inclusion in the reduced monitoring plan. However, all Tier 1 sites must be included before a Tier 2 site can be included.