Water@Wayne Seminar: "Evaluating Uncertainty in Drinking Water Lead and Copper Rule Compliance Assessments"

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Date: February 6, 2020
Time: 2:30 p.m. - 3:30 p.m.
Location: Engineering, College of #1507 | Map
5050 Anthony Wayne
Detroit, MI 48202
Category: Seminar

RSVP is closed.

The Office of the Vice President for Research is pleased to host the next Water@Wayne seminar on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the Engineering Building, room 1507 (Engineering Development Center). This seminar is free and open to the public; registration is requested.

The Water@Wayne Seminar Series presents "Evaluating Uncertainty in Drinking Water Lead and Copper Rule Compliance Assessments" with Dr. Sara Schwetschenau, post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Wayne State University.

Dr. Schwetschenau received her PhD from Carnegie Mellon University in 2019 from the Departments of Engineering & Public Policy and Civil & Environmental Engineering. Her research is focused on long-term planning, decision and policy assessment models for drinking water treatment and distribution infrastructure systems. Prior to her PhD she was a practicing wastewater engineer evaluating and designing advanced nutrient removal plants discharging to the Chesapeake Bay.


Lead is a neurotoxin harmful to human health. Historical use of lead in drinking water service lines and premise plumbing dates back to the early 20th century. At locations where historical lead pipe is still in use, corrosive water conditions may cause dissolution of lead into drinking water conveyed by lead pipes. Water utilities typically manage historical lead materials and mitigate dissolution of lead through the use of corrosion control systems to chemically mitigate lead leaching and lead service line removal programs. The Lead and Copper Rule (LCR), promulgated in 1991, is the primary regulation regulating drinking water lead levels and requires that the 90th percentile of regulatory samples collected have a lead level less than the action level (AL) of 15 ppb. Assessment of LCR compliance is based on a limited number of in-home samples and a single statistic (the 90th percentile). These are limited tools for utilities to understand the variability or uncertainty of lead levels across a large distribution system.

There is a need to evaluate how existing compliance data can be used in conjunction with new analytic methods to assess system wide lead release and improve corrosion control deployment. The present work seeks to evaluate LCR compliance data collected for Southwestern Pennsylvania (a region with existing lead concerns). First, imputation methods are used to estimate values for samples recorded as below the reporting limit. Statistical model fitting and bootstrapping simulation methods are used to quantify the uncertainty associated with median and regulatory 90th percentile estimate. Results will be used to recommend new approaches for utilities to use to improve understanding of current and historical lead release.