EPA proposes stronger protections on lead in drinking water

The U.S. EPA has proposed strengthening protections against lead in drinking water for the first time since 1991. The move comes in response to the recent brouhaha in the Washington, D.C., area, where residents were not informed of widespread lead contamination until years after it was discovered. The changes would require utilities to run stricter water tests, report the results of the tests to homeowners, and notify state and federal regulators in advance of any changes to water treatment. “We need to free people from worrying about lead in their drinking water,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Benjamin H. Grumbles, whose name never ceases to delight us. The changes — which must be approved by the Office of Management and Budget — are already drawing fire from critics who say that they don’t address the scale of the problem, and that the EPA does not adequately enforce rules even as they’re now written.