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Government and People
February 13, 2004
The Honorable Tom Davis
Dear Congressman Davis:
We write today concerning the problem with unacceptable levels of lead in some District residents' drinking water. And, we truly appreciate your deference to District leaders on this issue. On Wednesday, we established the Interagency Task Force on Lead in Drinking Water. It will look into ways the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) can reduce lead in water, ensure that high-risk populations receive priority lead pipe replacement, identify funding sources to help pay for replacements and make certain WASA and the DC Department of Health communicate critical information to citizens promptly and clearly.
Because there are two essential components to this matter, we feel it is important that each component be investigated by the appropriate entity. On the local side, WASA is a quasi-independent District government agency with direct oversight by the city. On the federal side, there is the Washington Aqueduct, which is responsible for collecting, purifying and pumping the potable water utilized by WASA and is a division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Although the Council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment has had the Washington Aqueduct present and testifying at its hearings, and it is a member of our Task Force, we think it is important to have an additional forum where officials from federal entities, such as the Washington Aqueduct and EPA, could be questioned by a body with appropriate legislative oversight authority. We feel that this would complement and expedite the work of the Council's Committee, and the Task Force we co-chair. Therefore, we are respectfully requesting that you, as Chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, hold hearings on this topic.
We look forward to your response to our request.
Government of the District of Columbia
Office of Communications
Mayor Williams and Councilwoman Schwartz Call for Hearings: Joint letter to Rep. Tom Davis asks for probe into WASA lead contamination problems
(Washington, DC) Earlier today, Councilwoman Carol Schwartz, Chairman of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, and Mayor Anthony A. Williams sent a letter to Rep. Tom Davis, Chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, calling for House committee hearings into the ongoing problems with lead contamination in the water of certain customers of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA).
In their letter, Williams and Schwartz said, "[W]e think it is important to have an additional forum where officials from federal entities, such as the Washington Aqueduct and EPA, could be questioned by a body with appropriate legislative oversight authority."
Earlier this week, Williams and Schwartz announced the formation of an inter-agency task force consisting primarily of District agencies and officials. The focus of this task force is to manage the problem and find solutions for homeowners who are facing higher than acceptable levels of lead in their water. "Our task force will not focus on investigating how this problem began or in determining the proper role of federal agencies in their response to the problem. With federal agencies such as the Army Corps of Engineers and the Environmental Protection Agency playing such a critical role in our public water supply and distribution system, it is appropriate that Members of Congress with oversight responsibility over those agencies begin to examine their role in this matter," said Schwartz.
"We look forward to working with Chairman Davis and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton to bring additional scrutiny and attention to this serious problem. We need to bring reasonable and affordable solutions to the tens of thousands of homes that are affected by this situation. Councilwoman Schwartz and I will work closely with our federal partners to solve this problem," added Williams.
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