Public Notice: Alternative Treatment Technique for National Primary Drinking Water Lead and Copper Regulations for Denver Water — @EPA

Denver Water’s new Administration Building, seen from West 12th Avenue looking south. Photo credit: Denver Water.

Here’s the release from the EPA:


U.S. EPA Region 8 approved a variance under the Safe Drinking Water Act for Denver Water. This variance will allow Denver Water to implement a Lead Reduction Program Plan (LRPP) as an alternative to treating for the corrosion of lead and copper with orthophosphate. EPA believes that Denver’s LRPP will provide health benefits and will be as protective in lowering the lead levels as the requirements under the Lead and Copper Rule. Under the LRPP, Denver will implement a holistic lead management strategy that requires an accelerated lead service line replacement schedule, provides filters to customers, and controls corrosion through pH/alkalinity adjustments. Additionally, Denver Water will develop a comprehensive lead service line inventory and conduct an extensive community outreach campaign. This variance is effective for an initial period of three years and may be extended if Denver Water demonstrates that that LRPP can be effectively implemented and results in reductions to lead in drinking water.

Concurrent with this action, EPA is asking for comments on the potential criteria for how the Agency will determine whether to extend this variance for up to an additional twelve years. EPA is accepting public comments on these criteria and on EPA’s interpretation of the statutory standard for future variance requests. See the Federal Register notice in the docket for specific questions on which EPA is seeking feedback.

Related Documents

Denver Water Variance Letter Final (PDF)(2 pp, 125 K, 12/16/2019)
Denver Water Variance Order Final (PDF)(20 pp, 2 MB, 12/16/2019)
Denver Water Variance Federal Register Notice – Pre-Publication (PDF)(7 pp, 301 K, 12/16/2019)
Denver Water Variance Appendix Final (PDF)(14 pp, 1 MB, 12/16/2019)

From Colorado Public Radio (Taylor Allen):

Denver Water will expedite the removal of lead pipes from homes across the metro area after the Environmental Protection Agency granted approval Monday.

The public agency will launch the program in 2020 and expects it to take 15 years and cost $500 million to complete. Officials estimate there are between 64,000 and 84,000 lead service lines in the system.

High lead exposure can lead to kidney and brain damage as well as developmental issues for children. Homes built prior to 1951 are more likely to have lead service lines, according to Denver Water…

Denver Water proposed the program to the EPA in July. Without the approved plan, it would take 50 years to remove the lead pipes, Lochhead said.

Denver Water has committed to remove at least 4,500 lines annually under an agreement with the EPA and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.

The idea for the program came soon after the state ordered Denver Water to do orthophosphate treatment in its water supply in March of 2018. The treatments are used to reduce lead and copper in water that’s delivered to peoples’ taps.

“That did not cure the overall cause of the problem, which is the lead service lines,” Lochhead said. “Orthophosphate treatment, being a nutrient, creates water quality and environmental issues in the water supply as well as costing more than simply going in and removing them.”

Denver Water worked with federal and state agencies to develop this alternative approach. It will be funded through water rates, bonds, new service fees and hydropower generation. The company said it will also look for funding through loans, grants and partnerships.

Graphic via Denver Water

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