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August 6, 1996

H to O

Dear Neighbors:

Let's start our review of D.C. drinking water with the opinion of one of our readers.

"My view of water, D.C. or otherwise, coincides with that of W.C. Fields--'never touch the stuff, Madam, fish [expletive] in it.'"

I received about 30 responses to the water survey and only 12 of you suggested that the District's Eau de Toilet may be causing, what one person called, "Marion Barry's Revenge." So I can retain my standing with the Academy of Social Sciences, this was not an epidemiological study and the results mean nada. Now if 800 folks wrote back with tales of woe, we might have a story.

Some folks drank from the tap with no problems at all. To wit: "I feel fine -- or at least no worse than usual." Another person wrote, "I drink DC tap water--no problems. Never buy bottled water. Live and work in NW DC." Funny that ever since that note, her email messages get kicked back to me, addressee unknown.

Lots of folks with no problems are taking precautions. The main method seems to be a boiling and Brita combo, "just like you would do in a third world country." A couple of folks mentioned they use PUR water filters that filter out most bacteria (but not viruses), which are available at Hecht's. Hechinger sells an under-sink filter system (OMNI) and a supply of the ultra high-tech ceramic filters capable of eliminating bacteria (but perhaps not small enough to trap cryptosporidium). Another is buying water from a place called "Drink More Water" in Bethesda. They process and distill the water themselves. "So far so good," says the poster.

And one subscriber living in Van Ness area actually believes we will get an EPA alert any month now saying "install home filters," or "boil all water." Something to look forward to.

Carole Schiffman from FDA informs us that FDA is now regulating bottled water. "As for contaminants, I believe, levels may not be not worse than those set by EPA for public water supply."

But bottled water may not be a panacea. "Bottled water is no magic fluid. It water. 2 H's and an O. Bad things CAN even happen with bottled water. For example, bacteria can grow at the bottom of the jug. In fact I kept changing the water in my own tupperware water jug for a while without cleaning it in between each, and BOY did that bacteria grow grow grow! And of course, once we're dealing with a bottler, we're dealing with a factory and equipment to keep clean, too, from rodents, roaches and pathogens."

For more information, Cindy Roberts, Carole's colleague at FDA, suggests contacting the following:

There is the International Bottled Water Association, 703-683-5213. They can tell you how a particular brand of bottled water is made, if it is good or not. They can probably also tell you what the current rules are regarding the labeling of bottled water.

The FDA Consumer from June 1993 had an article on bottled water and the new proposed rules. It's available from your local library and probably the FDA web site. The article lists definitions for artesian, distilled, purified, spring, mineral water. The FDA regulates bottled water, or at least the labeling aspect of it.

EPA regulates non-bottled water. They have/had a Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 800-426-4791. They probably have the latest info on the 1995 Safe Drinking Water Act.

The National Consumer League has a publication, A Consumer's Guide to Safe Drinking Water, that you can order, 202-639-8140. In it they give you suggestions on what to ask your local water supplier.

And finally, Carl Bergman points out DC water trivia.

"What would DC be if there were not some nutty exception to every rule? In some of Shephard Park our water comes from WSSC, not DC. We have DC meters and pay DC for our water. This came up during the last boil water alert a couple of years ago, and was confirmed by the city and also was shown in a map the Post published. I have never seen any budget document covering DC's payment to MD for the water. That's ok, DC is supposed to pay for the upkeep of McArthur Blvd. in Md, formerly called Conduit Road.

That's it on water. I'm flushed.


Bookmark, please! The following website provides lots of interesting D.C. web links. < >


Also free! Short movie reviews and movie discussion. To subscribe, send an email message to and note the name of the newsletter in the subject line or body of the text.


Jeffrey Itell



In the August 3rd postings, Sam Smith writes of Delegate Norton's modified flat tax proposal: "The ultimate effect would be a resettlement program for the nation's blackest city....the tiny island of Guernsey went to a 20% flat tax some years back and now has 75 major banks and a special immigration quota for multi-millionaires." This does not seem to include any resettlements of Guernsey's non-bankers, but never mind. For those of you confused by this argument, allow me to explain what Sam is trying to say:

Dear DC residents: Sorry, but you cannot have a tax cut. The laws of mathematics conclusively prove that, if the income tax is based upon percentage of net earnings, a reduction in taxes will inherently mean wealthy taxpayers recover more money than the less affluent. Under the Marxist laws of class warfare, this means that tax cuts are, at all times, immoral and never, ever to be tolerated. Besides, as Leon Panetta has so ably pointed out, making an exception for DC, albeit it lacks votes in Congress, sets a bad example for the rest of the country. If tax cuts stimulate the DC economy, other cities will want tax cuts too. Then the era of big government really will be over; we know you believe Bill Clinton was kidding in his State of the Union Address, but if this tax cutting nonsense catches on, liberalism is really finished. So welcome back to the plantation, "Chocolate City" [Sam's phrase, not mine]. On behalf of Progressives in opposition to progress and prosperity I am, yours truly, etc.

By the way, Sam also asserts that DC residents entitled to the Earned Income Tax Credit "lose this money" under a federal tax exemption. But Norton is calling for a tax reduction, not tax elimination, as in Puerto Rico.

Tom Matthes


Nice try, but you can quote the Progressive til the millennium, and what seems to be a growing majority of us tax-paying, non-represented D.C. residents (non-avaricious or otherwise) will still be supportive of Ms. Norton's tax proposal.

Pat Hahn



Andrea Carlson writes: "Criminals win/DC loses: the Loitering Law has been put on hold, according my source at the DC police dept. They're not enforcing it, thanks to the ACLU. While Art Spitzer celebrates with the criminals, the rest of us can despair."

What a drag! Does this mean the police can now only investigate when there's reason to believe that criminal activity is taking place? I certainly can't feel safe knowing that the police are going to have to go after criminals, rather than citizens who happen to be standing on public streets.

John Whiteside



Rex made an interesting statement at the end of his response to Mike about the car break-in: "BTW, sorry to hear about your friend's car. When you called the cell phone, who answered?"

In October, the Jeep owned by my Company (A DC tax-paying corporation) and used by the company president (A DC tax-paying, homeowner) was stolen. It had a cell phone in it. The thief used the cell phone at 3 am. On our phone bill, we had the phone number the thief called. We gave the phone number to the police. The police said they'd put it in their database (yeah, right) to see if that number comes up later in another reported theft. Hello.....why couldn't they find out who was called and go ask them a couple of questions. I don't believe in violating anyones rights, but it seems like the police would be within legal parameters to ask a couple of questions.

I agree with the respondents to Mike about using some preventive measures to avoid crime (although we should never blame the victim...), but there are some simple things the DC Police could do with the little bit of gas they have left in their cars.


It was perhaps naive of my friend to leave his car phone in view but the other objects were in fact hidden. I personally do not have a car phone and would have thought twice if I had. On the other hand, why in the world are people speaking out on behalf of blatant criminal activity. If you, as residents, find it acceptable then you are certainly going to get a lot of it.

Does the friend who we were visiting have a right to have guests from the suburbs? Do the guests (us) have a right to park near his apartment (the only place possible being along a dark, tree-lined Porter street.)

Moreover, it is presumptive to believe we were drunk and party-hardy. If you think crime is ok and that Marylanders are foreigners - you will help place DC in a more pitiful state then it is already in - more crime/less tax revenue.

Michael F. Mann


Schools and Sports

Dmitri Sautin is the Russian enigma in Olympic diving this year. The NBC sportscasters tried to explain his dour manner and unsmiling reaction to his own fantastic performance. It seems that Sautin spent years of practice, working on his form in the direst surroundings: cracked tiles, peeling paint, knife-toting "students," long waits at night for the bus, etc. Still, he was able to overcome a lethal attack and recover from horrible injuries to stand where he stood in Atlanta.

The D.C. School Board should extend a warm invitation to Dmitri Sautin to visit the students of Washington, and share with them his advice and experience on overcoming the odds under terrible conditions. The young people of this city would be eager to hear his message.

Gordon Glaza


I am sure all of you well-read individuals have seen the front page article about Juwan Howard (I probably didn't spell that right-I don't follow basketball). Isn't it wonderful. I wonder if you noticed the smaller article right next to it about the court-ordered school closings. I have no problem with sports as entertainment, but I do have a problem when schools are closed due to lack of funds to repair them and kids use history textbooks with USSR and E.-W. Germany still in them, and brand new (and totally unneeded) stadiums are built and athletes are paid such exorbitant amounts. I may not have all the facts, but the salaries garnered in professional sports have never made any sense to me.

Jeff Lins


Illegal Immigrants

As an active-duty member of the US Military stationed here, I've realized the abundant use of Texas/Florida plates by my fellows is two-fold. First, there is a disproportionate number of people (at least in the Air Force) stationed in these two states. San Antonio has 4 AF bases AND a Marine post. Fort Hood is one of the largest Army posts anywhere and...well, you get the point. Florida is also home of some of the largest Air Force wings anywhere.

Regarding the taxes, though, if a member moves to one of these states and changes residences, and then retires immediately to their original home state, courts have held them liable for back taxes going all the way back to the time they changed residences, in some cases. In these cases, the state was able to show that the member always intended to return to their original home, and only changed residences for the specific purpose of avoiding taxes, and usually maintained bank accounts, etc., in their original state. This happened to one particular retired Lt Col in Virginia, who had to pay back something along the lines of $20k in back taxes and interest. However, I do not see the courts ruling this way on a wholesale basis.

David Meyer



Does anyone know where the taxi companies go to get those perpetually lit "engine trouble" dashboard indicators installed? I assume they use these to turn down folks who want to go where the drivers don't.

Greg Jones


A new exercise facility is due to open Fall'96 at U & 16th Sts. Intro offers like..$45/mo. + $0 initiation fee. Fact or fiction?


Children's Island

I know the status of a man-made island in the Anacostia may seem inconsequential to many of us, but the Anacostia has been staging a quiet comeback. Its definitely worth going to the Aquatic Gardens on Kennilworth to see how well- preserved parts of the river have been for wildlife. But what is truly irritating about Children's Island park is how much the city got for the lease, $1 for 25 years!!


I have a 3BR house in Barnaby Woods, a few blocks east of Western Ave. I'm going to New England for several months, so it would be just right for anyone who might be displaced by a house renovation.

Alan Grossberg


Home PC Computer Assistance. I'll help you chose and buy the best model for the lowest price, get your computer up and running, teach you the ins and outs of Windows 95 and applications, show you how to maintain your system, build special applications for you, and get you up and running on the internet. $60/hour. 202.244.4163.

Jeffrey Itell


Alateen Meeting - Two Alateen Groups are forming in NW, DC. Both are at Saint Albans Church located at Massachusetts and Wisconsin Avenue. One meeting is on Wednesday at 7:15 and one on Fridays at 8:30. The meetings last one hour. Alateen is help for teenagers whose parent, relative or friend is a problem drinker. For more information, please contact David (w) 202 225 2188 or (h) 202 364 4723.

Meg Murray


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