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ANTHONY A. WILLIAMS MAYOR
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
CHAIR, COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
March 23, 2004
The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Bush:
As you are aware, the Government of the District of
Columbia and the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA)
have expended considerable effort and resources to deal with the
presence of elevated levels of lead in the drinking water of some
residences in the District. The lead appears to be entering the water
through corrosion of lead service lines that connect water mains to
residences. Although the lead service lines have been in place in most
cases for more than fifty years, the elevation of lead levels in the
water is a very recent phenomenon.
The apparent cause for this recent rise in lead levels is
a change in the treatment chemistry initiated by the United States Army
Corps of Engineers' Washington Aqueduct, the provider of the District's
water, and approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), the regulator of the District's water. EPA regulates the
District's water because, unlike 49 of the states, the District does not
have primacy for regulation in this area, despite multiple requests for
such in the past 25 years. Thus, the responsibility and funding for
regulation of the District's drinking water is delegated by EPA to its
regional office in Philadelphia, rather than to the District.
As it now stands, the significant expenditures associated
with addressing the lead problem will have to be borne by the District's
taxpayers and WASA's ratepayers, which is inherently unfair. Thus far,
these expenditures have come from five primary areas, as shown in the
Table A below. Table A also shows an estimate of the total costs the
District and WASA will incur in fiscal year 2004.
Table A. Total Costs to WASA and District of
THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA GOVERNMENT AND WATER &
PROJECTED FY 2004 COST FOR LEAD WATER CONTAMINATION
By this letter, we are requesting full reimbursement to
both the District and to WASA for these costs. The regulatory decisions
of EPA appear to have generated these costs, and the resources to
address them reside within EPA. It would be wholly inappropriate and
unjust for the people, of the District to bear these costs. Even had the
actions of EPA not been the cause of this problem, the structural
imbalance the District faces due to its unique situation relative to the
federal government leaves it with insufficient resources to support its
basic needs, let alone extraordinary demands such as have been created
by the lead in water problem.
Lead pipe replacement
On behalf of the people of the District of Columbia, we
respectfully request a prompt and favorable reply.
Anthony A. Williams Mayor
Chair, Committee on Public Works and the Environment