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Glenn S. Gerstell, Chairman, Board of Directors, DC Water and Sewer Authority
Testimony at Committee on Public Works and the Environment hearing
February 25, 2004




Dorothy Brizill
Bonnie Cain
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Mark David Richards
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Madam Chair and members of the Council, we have been working almost around the clock since we last appeared here to communicate the facts about lead levels in the water supply to District residents through a variety of channels. In addition, we are continuing to work with EPA, the Army Corps of Engineers, the D.C. Department of Health and respected scientists and academic experts to determine the extent and significance of the increase in lead levels so we can take effective actions to attack this problem. Our priorities are to discover the cause of elevated lead levels, identify the solution, fix the problem, and make sure citizens get the information they need. and deserve. Here are some of the actions we've taken toward this end:

  • We are pleased with the results of the water tests that we conducted in cooperation with the D.C. Public Schools. Nearly 99 percent of the water samples from public schools and facilities contained either no detectable quantities of lead or levels below EPA's "action level" of 15 ppb. This confirms that the drinking water that WASA is supplying from our water mains to the schools and throughout the District has essentially no lead. But of course there is more to the story and we recognize that ultimately the issue is what comes out of each individual sink and water fountain, whether in schools or homes, whether under WASA's control or not. Where the problem is within the control of private homeowners or schools, we will work with them to address it. In that regard, we were pleased to note that the DC Public Schools, who have been very cooperative, immediately put out of service and are replacing the eight individual faucets or fountains found to have problems.
  • The Board of Directors held a special meeting yesterday, which was our second full meeting since this issue captured public attention earlier this month, and which of course was open to the public. We've also had various Board committee meetings and conference calls, as the entire Board is taking this matter very seriously. At yesterday's meeting, the District Board members approved in principle WASA's purchase of water filters if the DC Department of Health decides that such filters would be appropriate for pregnant women and children under age six who live in homes with a lead service pipe. We are actively working with the Department of Health to try to answer the public's questions. We also instructed management to continue to look into various options to replace all lead service pipes throughout the District if it is concluded that that is the best way to address this problem. And the Council and the public will certainly be a part of that decision-making process.

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