On Demand Audio

Drinking Water and Lead Contamination

(694 reviews)

Produced on May 08, 2017

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Course Information

Time 1h
Difficulty Intermediate
Topics covered in this course: Environmental

Course Description

Lead in drinking water gained national attention as a result of the state of emergency declared in Flint, Michigan last year. But it is not just Flint. Lead in drinking water has emerged as a concern in city after city. A December 2016 study has identified almost 3,000 areas across the country where blood tests for lead were at levels at least double those reported in Flint, including pockets of Baltimore, Cleveland, and Philadelphia. Colorless, odorless, tasteless, and with a tendency to bioaccumulate, lead can only be detected by testing. It poses a particular health concern for children, causing developmental delays and other ill effects. At the national level, public water systems are regulated for contaminants, including lead, under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA). The EPA sets national standards for contaminants, and regulates lead under the EPA Lead and Copper Rule. Almost eighteen million people live in communities with reported violations of the rule, according to a study of 2015 data collected by EPA.

States have a direct hand in oversight of the federal programs under state drinking water programs, and can adopt standards that are more stringent than the federal standards. Legal challenges have included criminal charges, allegations of delayed reporting and slow response to lead findings by state and federal officials, and lead-poisoning lawsuits, not only in Flint but in Chicago, New Jersey, and other venues. Join Kathy Robb, a partner in the New York firm Sive, Paget & Riesel, for a discussion of legal issues and developments surrounding lead in drinking water.

Learning Objectives: 

  1. Understand how lead in drinking water arises, why it is a concern, and where the key issues have emerged in the U.S.
  2. Know the scope of U.S. regulations of lead in drinking water
  3. Identify key court cases addressing claims surrounding lead in drinking water
  4. Explore how the federal and state governments are addressing the issue, through infrastructure and existing law

Credit Information

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Kathy Robb

Blue Access LLC

Robb received her undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Austin and her law degree from the University of Virginia Law School. She then clerked for the Hon. Glen M. Williams, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia. She writes and lectures widely on environmental issues. Robb serves as president of the Environmental Law Institute‘s Leadership Council in Washington, DC, and is a former ELI Board member. She also serves as vice-president of the Waterfront Alliance in New York; on the Advisory Board of Bloomberg BNA’s Environmental Due Diligence Guide; on the Executive Committee of the New York City Bar Association; and as an Adjunct Professor at Pace Law School. She is designated as a leader in environmental law in Chambers, as a New York Super Lawyer, and as a leading lawyer in International Who’s Who, among other recognitions. In October, Robb was inducted into the American College of Environmental Lawyers (ACOEL).


Kim F.

Excellent overview.

Justin C

Excellent overview! I need a mentor like this presenter!

Robin E.

Interesting and concerning!

Roman W.

Good overview of the regulatory framework for drinking water, mostly at the national/federal level.

Andrew P.

Intersting and helpful Thank you

James K.

Very well presented and extremely timely Great introduction to an emerging issue affecting all of us

Steven K.

Reasonably good.

Amy E.

knowledgeable speaker

Gwen I.

Good background material to gain understanding of issue of lead contamination in drinking water.and regulatory environment.

William W.

Speaker knew the subject

Anne R.

Excellent, highly informative program, effectively presented.

michael g.

Speaker made the course material interesting and easy to comprehend. Good job!

Justin S.

Very interesting presentation.

Janella L.


Christina R.

I really enjoyed this seminar!

Tara L.

Very informative and interesting!

Cheryl M.

Amazing information about the state of lead pipes in the US

Gerald C.


Dave D.


Alexia K.

Good presentation, a great explanation of the background of the Flint crisis.

Ernest P.

I will never see water from a tap in the same way again.

Irina K.

Great topic!

Gerardo G.

Good interesting topic

Christopher B.

An excellent overview of one of the most critical health issues of our day.

Richard C.

Excellent course which addresses not only the law, but is an in-depth look at the health implications of leaded water, and the status of our national water supply infrastructure. Well done!

paul c.

One of the top two programs I have viewed. Very organized and will presented.

Kenneth W.


Karen P.

interesting course


Fantastic course. I absolutely appreciate the context and the content provided. I would like to see more in-depth courses about this topic, including how to deal with city officials regarding the infrastructure and testing requirements.

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