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Government and People
TESTIMONY BEFORE THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA
COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
CAROL SCHWARTZ, CHAIRPERSON
MARCH 17, 2004
"Performance Oversight of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority and its Lead Service Replacement
Good afternoon, Chairperson Schwartz and other Committee members. Thank you for the opportunity to testify today. My name is Linda Fennell. I am the Environmental Justice Organizer for the Sierra Club. My office is located in Anacostia and I am also an east of the River resident. I am here today to speak to the environmental justice issues relating to this water crisis. As the Environmental Justice Organizer, I am analyzing the economics and accessibility of services as a result of the lead problem.
From the environmental justice aspect, I would like to offer several suggestions by which at-risk and underserved communities can be better served. First, the economic burden of purchasing water must be addressed. Seniors and low income families are not able to easily adjust to the additional cost of purchasing bottled water, flushing pipes and filtering water, which are the recommended corrective actions.
Therefore, I suggest that the Department of Human Services and the Council provide extra funds to the Electronic Benefits Transfer allotments to purchase bottled water. The amount of money should cover the cost for the family to purchase at least three cases of water until the problem is resolved. When this is approved, all intake personnel, WIC/Supplemental Foods personnel, and community organizations that work with at "risk families" and seniors should notify their clients as to the availability of these funds.
Secondly, locations for blood screening that are east of the River should be established so that our residents can be adequately served. The Chartered Health Facilities located east of the River should be used for blood screening. Further, with the permission of the parents, health officials could use the schools for free blood screening. Additionally, WASA has an office located in the Penn Branch area that can be utilized.
As you probably have already heard or will hear, clarity and accuracy of information is needed. Seniors and boiling water. Mothers are boiling water for formula. At risk families are not flushing and they are not filtering. They are not reading material. It is important that a single-unified message of instruction that does not contradict what EPA recommends be developed. At the present, our residents are unclear as to what EPA really recommends.
During this crisis, those who can least afford to defend themselves must be protected. The Environmental Justice Office stands ready to work with government officials and present further recommendations.
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