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Government and People
Significant Milestone Reached In Reducing Lead in District Drinking Water
After completing the first of two consecutive six-month testing cycles required to comply with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) Lead and Copper Rule, the DC Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) announces a significant milestone in efforts to reduce lead levels in District drinking water. At the end of this current US EPA-mandated reporting period, the first half of 2005, test results of tap water are below the “90th percentile lead action level.”
The federal lead action level uses the 90th percentile of 100 compliance samples to measure compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule. If the compliance samples taken in the second half of 2005 show similar results, the District’s drinking water will meet federal requirements under the Lead and Copper Rule.
WASA is implementing an agreement with EPA to take additional steps beyond those required by the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) to address the elevated lead levels found in some homes in the District. Under the Rule, if a measure of lead in 100 drinking water samples exceeds the 15 parts per billion (ppb) action level, the US EPA requires the water system to undertake new treatment techniques, replace lead service lines and implement a public education program.
“We have sampled water at residences throughout the District at various times over the last six months, and test results have consistently indicated a downward trend in lead levels,” WASA General Manager Jerry N. Johnson explained. “In the latest results of 102 samples, the average lead level was 7 ppb. These positive test results validate the effectiveness of efforts to address the lead issue.”
WASA purchases water wholesale from the Washington Aqueduct for distribution to District customers. The decline in lead levels has been attributed largely to the addition of chemicals by the Army Corps of Engineers Washington Aqueduct to inhibit the corrosive action of water on pipes and plumbing fixtures that contain lead.
“In conjunction with WASA and our Virginia customers we have taken the appropriate steps to improve corrosion control by introducing orthophosphate into our treatment process,” said Washington Aqueduct General Manager Tom Jacobus. “The US EPA, WASA and the Washington Aqueduct identified a treatment program, and we are pleased that it is working.”
WASA, meanwhile, has undertaken a $300 million project to replace all lead service lines on public property by 2010. “The WASA Board of Directors is committed to removing lead service lines from public space as quickly as possible,” said Johnson. “To date, since 2003, we have already replaced approximately 3,600 lead service lines.”
It is important to remember that until WASA comes into complete compliance with test results from two consecutive six-month periods , District of Columbia residents should continue to follow precautions, such as the flushing advice and the use of certified filtration systems as appropriate, noted Johnson.
For more information on flushing and other precautions, visit our website at www.dcwasa.com or call the Lead Hotline at (202) 787-2732.
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