The public comment period for Michigan’s proposed changes to the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) closed this week. NRDC’s comments sought to ensure the rule actually does what it seeks to do: reduce the amount of lead in our drinking water. So far, it falls short of that mark.
When the rulemaking process started, Governor Snyder was pushing for a basic idea: Michigan would remove all of the lead pipes, which provide water to roughly 500,000 homes in Michigan. If done in a way that protects public health, we agree this would make Michigan the model state for protecting the public from lead in drinking water. However, as currently written, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality could greenlight a rule that exposes even more people to the dangers of lead in drinking water. How would they do this? By including loopholes that would require water systems to implement costly and dangerous partial lead pipe replacements programs. This would be bad news for Michigan residents who rely on their water utilities to ensure their tap water is safe.
Disappointingly, there were many voices from local governments and water utilities that argued against closing these loopholes and in favor of weaker lead protections. Moving forward, we hope that we can stand with Michigan’s water utilities and local governments to educate the public about the threats to their drinking water from lead and other contaminants and how we’re unable to fully address those threats due to funding shortfalls. More and better funding is the solution—not weakening protections to drinking water quality. But that’s the topic for another blog post.