Lead & Copper Rule (LCR)

Lead and copper levels in drinking water are regulated under the treatment technique requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). All community water systems and non-transient non-community water systems are subject to the LCR requirements.

Joseph Von Wahlde

Rule Manager

P: 701-328-5207
E: joseph.vonwahlde@nd.gov

Fact Sheet


  • Why is the LCR considered a treatment technique rule?
    • Instead of setting a maximum contaminant level (MCL) for lead or copper, the rule requires public water systems (PWSs) to take certain actions to minimize lead and copper in drinking water. These actions reduce water corrosivity and prevent the leaching of these metals from the premise plumbing and drinking water distribution system components. If those actions are not sufficient, the rule prescribes water quality parameter monitoring, corrosion control treatment, source water monitoring and treatment, removal of lead service lines and public education.
  • How is it determined what is required of a PWS?
    • Requirements are determined based upon the population served by the PWS along with the monitoring results from drinking water samples collected at customer taps. If lead concentrations exceed an action level of 15 ppb or copper concentrations exceed an action level of 1.3 ppm in more than 10% of customer taps sampled, the system must undertake a number of additional actions to control corrosion.
  • How many tap samples does each PWS have to collect?
    • Each PWS must collect the minimum number of tap samples as indicated in the list below. Initial sampling requires the number of tap samples indicated be collected once every six-months. Systems will be on six-month monitoring if they are a new PWS, have had a failure to monitor violation, have an action level exceedance, or any recent change in source or treatment. Reduced monitoring allows a reduced number of tap samples to be collected either once a year or once every three years.
    • Number of Sampling Sites by System Population Size
      • 100,001 +
        • 100 (initial sampling)
        • 50 (reduced monitoring)
      • 10,001 - 100,000
        • 60 (initial sampling)
        • 30 (reduced monitoring)
      • 3,301 - 10,000
        • 40 (initial sampling)
        • 20 (reduced monitoring)
      • 501 - 3,300
        • 20 (initial sampling)
        • 10 (reduced monitoring)
      • 101 - 500
        • 10 (initial sampling)
        • 50 (reduced monitoring)
      • ≤ 100
        • 5 (initial sampling)
        • 5 (reduced monitoring)
  • Where do I collect the tap samples?
    • Tap samples for lead and copper must be collected at designated and pre-approved lead and copper sample sites. These sites are usually NOT the same as the bacteria sites. Each PWS is required to submit for approval a Lead and Copper Sample Site Plan. The sample sites must be selected based upon risk for lead and copper. A materials inventory to identify lead and copper materials in the distribution system must be completed prior to plan development. The Sample Site Plan Guide (Community Systems, Non-Transient Non-Community Systems) provides additional information.
  • How do I make changes to my sample site plan if a site is no longer available?
    • All PWSs must maintain a minimum number of sample sites. The minimum number of sites is determined by the population size and the initial sampling requirements (indicated in the list above). Even when systems are on a reduced monitoring schedule the initial sampling number must be maintained on the sample site plan. Therefore, when a site is no longer available (e.g. the house is abandoned, demolished, plumbing/ lead service line replacement, or homeowner request) it must be replaced with a site of equal risk. A Request for Lead and Copper Sample Site Plan Change form (Community Systems, Non-Transient Non-Community Systems) must be completed and submitted for approval.
  • What can cause corrosion?
    • Corrosion is a dissolving or wearing away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and your plumbing. A number of factors are involved in the extent to which lead enters the water, including:
      • the chemistry of the water (acidity and alkalinity) and the types and amounts of minerals in the water,
      • the amount of lead it comes into contact with,
      • the temperature of the water,
      • the amount of wear in the pipes,
      • how long the water stays in pipes, and
      • the presence of protective scales or coatings inside the plumbing materials.
  • What are the potential health effects from lead?
    • The health risks for lead are different for children and adults.
      • Children
        • Children are especially susceptible to lead and copper exposure because their bodies absorb these metals at higher rates than the average adult. Children younger than six are most at risk due to their rapid rate of growth. Exposure to high levels of lead can cause damage to the brain, red blood cells, and kidneys. Exposure to even low levels of lead can cause low IQ, hearing impairment, reduced attention span, and poor classroom performance.
      • Adults
        • High lead levels in adults have been linked to increased blood pressure. Pregnant women and their fetuses are especially vulnerable to lead exposure since lead can significantly harm the fetus, causing lower birth weight and slowing down normal mental and physical development.
  • What are the potential health effects from copper?
    • Exposure to high levels of copper can cause stomach and intestinal distress, liver or kidney damage, and complications of Wilson’s disease in genetically predisposed people.
  • How does lead and copper enter drinking water?
    • When lead and copper are found in tap water it is typically due to leaching from internal plumbing materials or lead service lines. If the water is too corrosive, it can cause lead or copper to leach out of the plumbing materials and enter the drinking water. The most common problem is with brass or chrome-plated brass faucets and fixtures with lead solder, from which significant amounts of lead can enter into the water, especially hot water. Homes built before 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. In 2011, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) reduced the maximum allowable lead content. Effective on January 4, 2014; content that is considered "lead-free" must not be more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent calculated across the wetted surfaces of pipes, pipe fittings, plumbing fittings, and fixtures and 0.2 percent for solder and flux.