United States Environmental Protection Agency
Region 3 Press Releases
|For Immediate Release: March 10, 2004
||Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567
WASA agrees to implement interim plan for lead;
Multi-agency corrosion team presents EPA with strategy
PHILADELPHIA – The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA)
will begin immediately to implement an interim action plan to ensure safe
drinking water to residents while corrosion control efforts proceed, EPA
Regional Administrator Donald S. Welsh announced today.
The plan, confirmed in a Tuesday evening meeting with officials from
EPA, the city and WASA, will be finalized in a letter from WASA today. It
includes a series of steps to protect consumers while a multi-agency
technical team – the Technical Expert Working Group – works to
eliminate the source of lead.
WASA and the District of Columbia have agreed to the following actions:
- Within 30 days, deliver an alternate interim water supply (bottled
water or filters) to occupants in all the estimated 23,000 homes and
businesses with lead service lines.
- Within 30 days, begin sampling tap water from a representative group
of homes and other buildings – including schools and daycare centers
– that are not served by lead service lines. Copper pipes, valves,
fixtures or lead solder can also leach lead into drinking water. The
sampling plan and testing methods will be based upon a consensus of
EPA, D.C. government and health agencies.
- Within seven days, submit for EPA approval a revised annual plan
that provides for an accelerated schedule for physically replacing
lead service lines.
- Implement a public education plan that conveys a necessary sense of
urgency to the public about the lead in their drinking water.
Also today, a multi-agency team of water corrosion control experts
presented EPA with a strategy to reduce corrosion in the D.C. water supply
in order to alleviate high levels of lead in drinking water. The strategy
sets April 15 as a target date to present EPA with a new trial treatment
program to correct the corrosion.
"This team of experts from the public and private sectors are
expediting a high-tech investigation to identify the cause of elevated
lead levels and present a solution that restores confidence in drinking
water as quickly as possible," said Regional Administrator Welsh.
To review the technical team's findings, EPA also has formed an
independent peer review group made up of government and private experts
who are not involved in the planning.
Welsh stressed that while the team works to fix the lead problem,
consumers should continue to follow flushing recommendations and the D.C.
Department of Health's advisory for children and pregnant women who live
in homes with lead service lines.
The technical team consists of representatives from EPA, the Centers
for Disease Control and Prevention, D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA),
the Washington Aqueduct, D.C. Department of Health, Virginia Department of
Health and a variety of independent experts and contractors.
The technical team has begun a desktop analysis of water chemistry to
identify potential treatment options and make a recommendation for a
revised corrosion control treatment. The analysis involves setting up
piping loops containing actual lead service pipes that have been dug up
from in front of D.C. homes. Treatment processes are simulated by pumping
water through the pipe loops with various chemicals and dosages. The
models range in size from being small enough to fit on a six-foot table to
a piping system as big as a classroom.
The Washington Aqueduct and WASA are responsible for developing a
revised optimal corrosion control treatment, and EPA is responsible for
reviewing the treatment based on input by experts from all parties.
Although the corrosion team does not expect any treatment to immediately
reduce lead levels, the team believes that improvements for a new
treatment process, once implemented, will progress to full effectiveness
over a period of several months.