The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking-water chief said the agency is preparing to issue a comprehensive action plan to address challenges to the nation’s drinking-water systems by the end of the year. Speaking at the American Water Works Association’s annual conference on June 22 in Chicago, EPA’s Peter Gravatt said the drinking-water sector is facing “a critical moment.” Although the U.S. has some of the safest drinking water in the world, there are still challenges, made evident by crises such as lead in the water in Flint, Mich., in 2015 and 2016, as well as a toxic algae bloom in Lake Erie and leakage of chemicals into groundwater in Charleston, W.Va., in 2014.

The “national action plan for drinking water” will look at improvements that can be made in the implementation of the Lead and Copper Rule, Gravatt said. The plan will also assess more study for potential regulation of emerging contaminations, finding ways to boost investment in water infrastructure and revamping the Safe Drinking Water Act, he said.

The crisis in Flint was a major focus at the AWWA meeting. Other highlights included water-quality issues in the Great Lakes region, including the presence of plastics and microcystins in the Great Lakes; the abundance of Asian carp in the Mississippi River and its tributaries; and several sessions on resiliency. Doug Owen, executive vice president of Arcadis, told ENR that, in the water sector, resiliency is increasingly important. In May, Arcadis released a global index of the cities with the most sustainable water systems. Owen says he hopes that cities can use the index to consider what they need to do to help make their systems both more durable under stress and less likely to be depleted.