EPA Endorses Denver Water’s Lead Reduction Program

Lead service lines. Photo courtesy of Denver Water/EPA.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) (Washington, D.C., USA) has approved Denver Water’s comprehensive approach for reducing lead in drinking water through the issuance of a final variance under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The variance allows Denver Water to continue to implement a set of action, called the Lead Reduction Program Plan, which work together to reduce lead in Denver’s drinking water. 

Denver Water is also receiving $76 million in funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to accelerate the pace of the lead service line replacement actions specified in the plan. 

“Denver Water’s approach to tackling lead in drinking water has been remarkable and an example for other communities across the country,” says EPA Regional Administrator K.C. Becker. “Thanks to new funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law the utility’s customers can expect an even faster lead service line replacement schedule delivering health protections for children and adults across the Denver area.” 

As a result of EPA’s first-of-its-kind lead variance approval, Denver Water will continue to: 

  • Replace all lead service lines at no direct cost to customers
  • Control lead corrosion with pH and alkalinity treatment 
  • Determine the locations of lead service lines that connect homes and buildings to water mains
  • Provide a water pitcher filter certified to remove lead to customers with lead service lines
  • Conduct extensive community outreach and education 

In 2019, EPA issued the first lead variance in the country for Denver Water. EPA approved the initial variance to evaluate if Denver Water’s alternative approach to addressing a lead action level exceedance could be effective. After evaluating the data, EPA is approving another variance to allow Denver Water to continue with the current plan, which has shown to be more effective than orthophosphate treatment, the method of water treatment required under federal and state regulations. 

EPA is committed to incorporating environmental justice into all decisions. Denver Water’s variance does not result in disproportionate impacts to areas with health equity and environmental justice concerns, and the utility is placing a priority on underserved communities and homes with large numbers of infants and children. Specifically, Denver Water is ensuring that areas with environmental justice concerns receive the same or better rates of both lead service line replacements and filter outreach and education compared to the overall service area. 

“Denver Water’s first priority is sustaining our communities by protecting the health of our customers,” says Denver Water CEO and Manager Jim Lockhead. “We thank EPA and our community partner for working with us to ensure we successfully implement this program. The water we deliver to our customers is lead-free, but lead from customer-oriented service lines can enter the water supply to homes. Removing these lines is the most effective way to eliminate this source of lead exposure, and we are committed to this program until every lead service line has been removed.” 

Learn more about EPA’s Variance Approval and Denver Water’s Lead Reduction Program by clicking on the respective links. 

Source: EPA, www.epa.gov.