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New EPA rules to impact city water system

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is in the process of changing its rules on lead and copper in public drinking water systems. Within the next couple of years, according to Public Works Director Mac Erickson, this is likely to have a significant impact on the City of Sundance.

The first step in the process, according to Erickson, will be a requirement for the city to create a complete inventory of every service line within its water system by 2026. Once this is complete, he expects that the EPA will require the city to replace a percentage of the lead and copper material within the system each year.

At this stage, Erickson said, he does not have the full details of what this requirement will entail, though he expects to learn more soon.

“In my years here, I’ve seen a lot of digging and I don’t know there’s a whole lot of lead pipe. There’s a lot of copper, there’s a lot of what used to be galvanized…but I don’t know that we have any bad stuff,” commented Mayor Paul Brooks.

How much of the city water system will require replacement is as yet impossible to know.

“A lot of the red flag areas are 1950s steel lines – that’s how they did the taps,” said Erickson.

“…Anything built after 1989 is exempt, because they changed the laws then and you couldn’t use lead solder and they reduced the amount of lead in brass fittings.”

As part of the process, Erickson said that is hoping to enlist help from town citizens. His aim will be to create a program or email list through which people can submit a picture of the water line as it comes in to their home.

Through that, Erickson explained, he would be able to extrapolate data about the pipes between the home and the main line.

“If it’s poly, it about has to be poly all the way down to the main,” he gave as an example.

Council Member Randy Stevenson questioned how the city will be expected to pay for these replacements.

“What kind of dollars are out there that can be used for this?” he asked.

Brooks responded that the funding will undoubtedly need to be federal, but explained that, while the money is out there, it can be extremely difficult for small towns to access.

The trouble, he said, is that federal grants tend to require a lot of administration, so most people who need them don’t have the depth of staff to actually get them.

The full details of the rule changes are not yet known. Erickson stated that he expects to learn more about the plan over the next year.