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Government and People
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-2029
MAR 22, 2004
Mr. Robert C. Bobb
Dear Mr. Bobb:
This letter provides EPA Region III's initial response to the March 17, 2004 letter which provides further details on DCWASA's Interim Actions for Lead in Drinking Water. We stand ready to meet with you and others addressing this issue in the City to clarify our comments and requests for followup action. As we continue the dialogue with the City and DCWASA we may have additional questions or items for discussion.
Distribution Plan for Point of Use Devices
We wish to acknowledge and commend the continuing work of the City Administration, working through the Emergency Management Agency and DCWASA, to ensure prompt delivery of point of use treatment devices to residents served by lead service lines as a prudent public health measure.
The schedule for initial filter distribution is within the 30-day commitment we discussed; however, more details are needed with regard to WASA's commitment to resupply or replace filter cartridges based on manufacturers' guidelines. WASA's March 10, 2004 letter made reference to this aspect, but those commitments were not restated in the most recent plan. We are requesting that a schedule and methods for replacement be specified to govern the next six months as needed.
In addition, since there will be at least three types of filters used and one will be a faucet mounted fixture, consumer guidance accompanying the filters, and the flushing protocols which are generally issued, will have to be revised to accommodate appropriate flushing instructions for the sink mounted fixture. Instructions to home owners (in multiple languages) must also reinforce that these filters are to be used following the application of the flushing protocol, and should have a phone number to contact if there are questions about proper use or replacement.
The number of lead service lines has been estimated to be just over 23,000. The March 17, 2004 letter references the 10,000 devices already obtained and an additional quantity of 12,000 devices to be available by March 31, 2004. There appears to be a shortfall to fully meet the need to supply all the residences believed to be served by lead service lines. WASA must address this point as well as what provisions have been made to supply filters to multiple residences at the same address (e.g., apartments within a residence).
The proposal for sampling and testing of non-lead service line customers is detailed and positively addresses many EPA concerns. In particular, we believe that the school sampling plan is appropriate and should be implemented as submitted, based upon the extensive discussions we have had over the preceding days. Some clarifications are necessary, however.
WASA indicates that adequate sampling of single family housing has already been completed for lead and non-lead service line situations. We agree that a significant number of homes have been voluntarily sampled, but without further information about the distribution to these residences (i.e., are they representative of all four quadrants of the District, and representing a variety of housing/building construction, etc.), and the raw data on which the data tables were based, we have to reserve our determination that this is adequate.
We believe the sampling protocol for apartments and other buildings (non-residences) should be the same as for the schools. There are numerous other minor clarifications needed to insure these plans can be implemented by school and building facility maintenance staffs. We will specify these over the next several days and will be available to review them and address questions. In all the plans, there needs to be a Response Plan made clear to the owners of the buildings sampled (e.g, apartments, schools, government buildings, etc.). The EPA guidance on sampling schools and other buildings identifies steps to be taken following receipt of samples. Such steps need to be anticipated and specified preferably before sampling is initiated.
Enhanced Public Information Plan
WASA's 2004 Enhanced Public Education Plan for Lead includes both actions intended to meet regulatory requirements as well as supplemental actions. It appears that the WASA submittal predominantly addresses past actions, not future actions. As you are aware, we are presently conducting a study of previous practices and the best practices undertaken elsewhere, in order to provide recommendations for enhancement. Those recommendations will be provided to WASA and the City in April 2004. In the interim, we direct WASA to continue to implement the enhanced education and outreach actions and measures already identified, and the following additional actions:
Lead Service Line Replacement Plans
We welcome the additional proposals which are under consideration by the WASA Board and the City government to find long-term solutions to the lead service line replacement need, specifically those which support the goal of full service line replacement. EPA continues to support solutions which result in the removal of the greatest feasible portion of the service lines containing lead, both to meet the regulatory requirement and to reduce the exposure pathways for the future. We also note and support the continued research into available technologies that would remediate lead service lines in the interim.
The cutting of service lines has been recently shown to present significantly elevated levels of lead in days following the activity. We are not presently aware of any lead testing data on the suggested practice of replacing at the nearest threaded joint. Physical disruption of old lines may present similar concerns. EPA will join with DCWASA and the Department of Health (DOH), starting with the planned meeting on March 22, in an expedited review of available methods for physical replacement of lines which meets the regulatory requirement while ensuring the safety of consumers.
With respect to the requested waiver of 45-day notice requirements to residences for partial replacement of lines in connection with emergency repairs or due to other agents discovering lead lines while excavating, such waivers may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, pursuant to 40 CFR 141.84(d)(1) and the preamble discussion of this provision, We will consider the waiver request on a case-by case basis as allowed in the regulation.
With regard to the updated and revised plan submitted on March 17, EPA directs WASA to:
We greatly appreciate your continuing efforts to facilitate actions and agreements to address the lead in drinking water issue and offer to meet with you to discuss any of these or other items at your convenience.
cc: Honorable Carol Schwartz, Chair,
Committee on Public Works and the Environment
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