Thursday, April 24, 2008

WASA Hearings

WASA will be holding public hearings on the replacement of lead service lines. Earlier this year, the DC Council held hearings to address the findings of a VA Tech scientist who found that lead levels in our water spiked in areas where service lines had recently been replaced. I believe that the spikes are due to particles of lead breaking off from solder and old pipes during the replacement process. WASA now thinks that the switch from chlorine to chloramine to purify DC's water has been sufficient to hold down levels of the toxic metal delivered to most households in DC.

Since the 2004 discovery of lead levels in DC water that exceed EPA standards, WASA reports that the level of contamination has dropped. Though the amount of soluble lead in our water has been reduced, the Acting Executive Director of Alliance for healthy homes wrote in to the Washington Post recently to express her concerns about WASA's testing methods. She claims that though levels of soluble lead have decreased, levels of led particles in our drinking water have increased. She also believes that WASA's methods of testing do not reveal accurate lead levels because they do not take into account tap water that has been running for several minutes. (However, when my building was tested, the samples included both flushed and unflushed tap water.) From what limited information I've read, it's unclear whether we have a lead problem or a WASA public trust problem. Jim Graham may have a good idea in calling for independent testing of our water; results from independent researchers are more trustworthy. Another issue secondary to today's contamination is that neither our elected representatives nor WASA have addressed the issue of whether long term lead levels would be best addressed by leaving things as they are or by replacement of the service lines. Years from now will the solder and pipes degrade even more?

Still, the WASA website reports plans to replace service lines throughout 2009. This year's replacements in ANC 2F are:

1100-1299 blocks of O Street, NW
1500 block of Vermont Ave., NW

Several other replacements in our area were completed in 2007.For a complete list of currently-scheduled replacement locations, go to

If you have a particular concern about the service line replacement program, consider attending or testifying at the hearing on Thursday, May 1. Contact lmanley{at}dcwasa{dot}com or call (202) 787-2330 before 5 p.m. next Tuesday to arrange to testify.

1 comment:

Jessica said...