The purpose of the Lead and Copper Rule is to protect public health by minimizing lead and copper levels in drinking water.  Because lead and copper in drinking water is mainly due to the corrosion of service lines and household plumbing, tap water samples are collected at kitchen or bathroom taps of residence and other buildings.  Public health benefits include:


  • Reduction in risk of lead exposure, which can cause damage to the brain, red blood cells, and kidneys, especially for young children.
  • Reduction in risk of copper exposure, which can cause stomach and intestinal distress and liver and kidney damage.


In 1991, EPA published a regulation to control lead and copper in drinking water.  This regulation is known as the Lead and Copper Rule (also referred to as the LCR).  Since 1991, the LCR has undergone various revisions. 

The treatment technique for the rule states that 90 percent of samples analyzed for lead must be less than the action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb), and the samples analyzed for copper must be less than the action level of 1,300 ppb.  If more than 10 percent of the samples exceed the action level, a utility is required to take action which may include changes to the water treatment process, replacement of lead service lines, and public outreach.

1,000 parts per billion (ppb) = 1 part per million (ppm)

Lead action level = 15 ppb or 0.015 ppm

Copper action level = 1,300 ppb or 1.3 ppm

EPA Lead and Copper Rule:  A Quick Reference Guide


Who must sample for lead and copper, and how?

All community and non-transient non-community water systems are subject to LCR monitoring requirements. 

The Birmingham Water Works Board Lead and Copper Sampling Plan

EPA: Control of Lead and Copper


Does the Birmingham Water Works Board have elevated levels of lead or copper in its drinking water?

No.  Testing in accordance with the EPA has demonstrated that there are no elevated levels of lead or copper in the drinking water provided by The Birmingham Water Works Board (BWWB).  Since testing began in the early 1990s, BWWB’s levels have tested well within the EPA’s compliance standards.  The following links are historical data for lead and copper testing by the BWWB.

BWWB Historical Data for Lead 2016-2020 in units of ppm

BWWB Historical Data for Copper 2016-2020 in units of ppm


Does my home have a lead service line?

The BWWB has established a lead service line database. Use our lookup tool to verify if your service line is known to contain lead. 

      BWWB Lead Service Line Lookup


What can I do in my home to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water?

  • Any time the water has been sitting unused for six hours or longer in the plumbing, flush your cold water pipes by running the water until it becomes a constant temperature.  Saving the water for other purposes, such as plant watering, is a good conservation measure.
  • Use only water from the cold water tap for drinking, cooking and especially for making baby formula.  Hot water may contain higher levels of lead.
  • Install a water filter.  If you choose to do so, follow these three important suggestions:

1.      Choose on designed for the specific filtration desired, such as lead.

2.      Make sure the filter is approved by the National Sanitation Foundation (www.nsf.org).

3.      Maintain the filter as directed by the manufacturer.

  • For additional information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), click HERE.



Have more questions about lead and copper service lines?  Click to Send us a Message.