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Robert C. Bobb, City Administrator
testimony before the City Council Committee on Public Works and the Environment on the DC Water and Sewer Authority and Its Lead Service Replacement Program
March 17, 2004




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Executive Office of the Mayor
The John A. Wilson Building • 1350 Pennsylvania Ave NW • Suite 310 . Washington DC 20004 . (202) 727-6053

Robert C. Bobb
Deputy Mayor and City Administrator

Testimony of Robert C. Bobb
Deputy Mayor/City Administrator

District of Columbia Committee on Public Works & the Environment
A Continuation of Performance Oversight of the District of Columbia Water and
Sewer Authority and its Lead Service Replacement Program
March 17, 2004

Good afternoon Honorable Chairman Schwartz and members of the Committee. My name is Robert C. Bobb, City Administrator for the District of Columbia. I am grateful for this opportunity to describe our formation of and progress on the Interagency Task Force on Lead in Water.

A short week following the revelation that some of the District's residences had been measured with elevated levels of lead in their water, Mayor Williams and Councilmember Schwartz, Chair of this Committee, formed the Interagency Task Force on Lead in Water. The purposes of the task force are to be a working group to achieve three primary functions. The functions are:

  1. to find answers to questions of concern to the public and government;
  2. to ensure that all outlets are coordinated in communicating with the public; and
  3. to provide an ongoing forum for relevant government entities to share information and develop responses.

The Task Force Co-Chairs, Mayor Williams and Councilmember Schwartz, brought together representatives from the Council Chair's Office, the Council Committees on Public Works and the Environment, and Health and Human Services, the City Administrator's Office, the Department of Health, the Emergency Management Agency, the Department of Transportation, the Water and Sewer Authority, and the Washington Aqueduct.

These folks and their agencies have been working diligently ever since, meeting as a complete group weekly, and in smaller groups much more frequently, to address the many and complex facets of this issue. Though the specific tasks of the Task Force are too numerous to mention here, I'll give you some highlights of what we've accomplished.

  • Activated the Emergency Management Agency to serve as a logistics clearinghouse for all related activity in the District
  • Hosted press briefings three times each week to keep the public fully informed on a real-time basis
  • Produced and reviewed numerous letters and other information items to ensure the delivery of clear, consistent public information
  • Researched past responses, best practices from other jurisdictions, and technical analysis by experts
  • Served as primary liaison to regulators and experts and, via community forums, the public
  • And most importantly, provided a constructive forum in which problems and challenges can be identified and resolved.

The Task Force's original intent was to meet for two months and then produce a final report. At this stage, due to the dynamic nature of this issue, it's safe to say that if the Task Force continues to add value to the process, we will continue it.

I have nothing more to add at this point. I thank you, Councilmember Schwartz, both for the opportunity to describe for the public and for the record the work of the Task Force, and for your leadership with the Mayor on this issue. For my part, I look forward to continuing our work together. This concludes my testimony - I am available to answer any questions the Committee may have.

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