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Government and People
COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND THE ENVIRONMENT
REPORT ON THE INVESTIGATION INTO THE CONDUCT AND OPERATIONS OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY RELATING TO LEAD IN DRINKING WATER AND ITS LEAD SERVICE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM
Councilmember Carol Schwartz
December 21, 2004
TABLE OF CONTENTS
In 1974, Congress passed the Safe Drinking Water Act, 42 U.S.C. § 300(f) (SDWA), in an attempt to protect the quality of drinking water in the United States. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the law focuses on all waters actually or potentially designed for drinking use, whether from above-ground or underground sources.
The SDWA authorized EPA to establish safe standards of purity and required all owners or operators of public water systems to comply with primary (health-related) standards.1 State governments, which assume this power from EPA, also encourage attainment of secondary standards (nuisance-related).2 In response, the EPA established the Public Water System Supervision (PWSS) Program under the authority of the SDWA. The EPA Region III Office, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, has primacy over the District of Columbia and administers the PWSS program in the District.
EPA also regulates how often public water systems (PWSs) monitor their water for contaminants and report the monitoring results to the states or EPA. Generally, the larger the population served by a water system, the more frequent the monitoring and reporting requirements.
The Lead and Copper Rule, which became effective on December 7, 1992, requires treatment of drinking water when lead and/or copper in the water exceeds certain levels.3 The actual action level has been determined to be 15 parts per billion (ppb). Lead enters drinking water mainly from the corrosion of lead pipes. The Lead and Copper Rule does not require the public water supply system to immediately replace pipes in homes or businesses. When the concentration of lead or copper reaches the action level in ten percent or more of the required samples, the public water supplier is required to carry out the water treatment requirements. These consist of optimization of the water treatment process, replacement of the lead service lines over a multi-year period and the undertaking of a public education program.
In 1985, D.C. Inventory identified 28,161 lead service lines in the District. In 1986, the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) lead service line replacement effort began. During 1990, the lead service replacement program was terminated due to District budget limitations after the replacement of approximately 2,800 service lines. During the testing periods in 1993 and 1994, the District exceeded the EPA action level. From 1994 through 1996, efforts which were made to optimize corrosion control in late 1994 brought results below the action level. From 1996 to 2001, the District's drinking water remained below the action level.
On November 1, 2000, EPA approved the use of chloramines by the Washington Aqueduct as a disinfectant to maintain protection against microbial contamination in the District's water distribution system. Combining chlorine and ammonia produces chloramines. At extremely high levels, chloramines can be toxic, however at the levels used for drinking water disinfection they pose no health concerns to humans. EPA originally approved this change of the water chemistry to reduce the concentration of disinfectant byproducts called trihalomethanes (THMs). According to health officials as well as EPA, trihalomethanes have proven to be carcinogenic.
In 2002, WASA, in compliance with the SDWA, collected 53 samples of tap water from residents in District communities. Of those samples, 26 exceeded the lead action level. Since WASA triggered the action level under 40 CFR § 141.85, a public service announcement was required to be submitted to five or more radio and television stations every six months. The regulations also required that public education materials be included in water bills, and that notice be given on the water bills themselves. Furthermore, after triggering the action level, WASA was required to undertake a lead service line replacement program. WASA was also required to replace at least seven percent of the lead service lines that existed in public space and offer the homeowners the chance to replace the portion that existed on their private property, at cost.
On January 31, 2004, the public and District officials were made aware that two-thirds of the 6,118 residences that WASA tested during the summer of 2003, or 4,075 homes in the District, had tap water that exceeded the lead action level set by EPA. District government officials were outraged by the lack of notice as to the lead contamination. Chair Schwartz of the Council of the District of Columbia, Linda Cropp, stated in a February 1, 2004 article in the Washington Post "the only way you can solve a problem is to know that there is one."
Additionally, Councilmember Jim Graham noted that although he assisted a constituent with lead pipe replacement after it was discovered that the home tested above the EPA action level, during a long meeting he had with WASA officials it was never disclosed that there was a city-wide problem.
In immediate response to the unfolding issue of lead in water, Councilmember Carol Schwartz, Chair of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment ("Committee"), convened the first public roundtable hearing on the issue on February 4, 2004. During that roundtable, which lasted nine hours, District residents and Councilmembers expressed dismay at WASA's handling of the lead in water crisis. Chair Schwartz forcefully expressed her outrage to representatives of WASA. She noted that Glenn S. Gerstell, Chairman of the WASA Board, said that they had adequately warned residents.
"Are you coming from outer space?," Chair Schwartz asked Mr. Gerstell. "Do you call this candid and open?" She, like residents before her, told WASA that she thought they had covered up the problem and minimized it to the extent that, while the agency did note excessive lead levels in its report to the public, it was underplayed so much that no one would notice or consider it a problem. To further prove her point of inadequate notice, Chair Schwartz showed WASA's Drinking Water Quality Report of 2002, published in June 2003 (See Appendix D). The report informed District residents that "your drinking water is safe." In the seven pages of text of the report, the lead and copper monitoring program was discussed in seven sentences, the last three of which state that WASA regularly monitors samples from consumers' taps and that of 53 samples drawn, 26 showed lead levels over the action level. Yet the report prominently said that "all contaminants in the District's drinking water are considerably below the maximum limits."
Across the District, concern was widespread regarding the health effects of ingesting lead-contaminated water into the human body. To shed light on this matter, testimony was offered by Dr. Jerome Paulson, M.D., Co-Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment and Medical Advisor for the Children's Environmental Health Network. Dr. Paulson stated that "it was unlikely for children to sustain blood lead levels in the 20s and above from the water alone."4 However, he said, "it is also obvious that the children are at risk for sustaining blood lead levels from the single digits into the teens." This is a critical finding because researchers are finding that even low levels of lead intoxication can lead to adverse health effects, he said. (For a complete listing of witnesses that testified at the Committee's eleven Public Hearings and their written testimony, please see Appendices A and B.)
On February 10, 2004, Chair Schwartz held the second public hearing on the lead in water issue, which again lasted nine hours. At this hearing, maps were produced by WASA as requested by Chair Schwartz and additional experts in the health field testified about the effects of lead on children and pregnant women.
Chair Schwartz also requested the presence of Ms. Seema Bhat, a former manager of the Water Quality Division at WASA. Ms. Bhat testified under oath that she advised WASA to inform the public of the emerging problem of lead in drinking water and claimed she was fired by WASA as a result of her efforts to bring the lead issue to light. Her testimony suggests that WASA was reluctant to fully inform the public of this problem.
On February 11, 2004, Mayor Anthony Williams and Councilmember Carol Schwartz, Chair of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, formally announced the formation of the Interagency Task Force on Lead in Drinking Water for the purpose of bringing agencies together to find solutions to the lead in water issue and to improve public communication by WASA and EPA regarding this issue. The Task Force was co-chaired by Mayor Williams and Councilmember Schwartz, and included representatives from the Water and Sewer Authority, the Washington Aqueduct, the District Emergency Management Agency, the District Department of Health and the District Department of Transportation. The Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments generously provided staff assistance.
On February 13, 2004, Chair Schwartz, along with the Mayor, wrote to Congressman Tom Davis, Chairman of the House Committee on Government Reform, and requested that he hold a hearing on the lead issue. Acknowledging their request, Congressman Davis held an oversight hearing on the issue on March 5, 2004. The second meeting of the Interagency Task Force occurred on February 19.
Chair Schwartz held the third public hearing on the lead in water matter on February 25, 2004, which lasted for 4 hours. On that day, Chair Schwartz set the date for a fourth public hearing on this matter, and co-chaired the third meeting of the Task Force.
On February 27, 2004, Chair Schwartz held a press briefing at the beginning of her regularly scheduled budget oversight hearing to formally announce a special investigation into WASA's management of the lead program and her request for an independent audit of WASA's testing protocols. On that date, she also wrote Austin Andersen, Acting Inspector General of the Office of the Inspector General, requesting that an independent analysis of the levels of lead in District drinking water be performed (that analysis remains underway), and together with the Mayor, wrote to Senator James Inhofe, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, requesting that he hold an oversight hearing on the lead issue. Senator Inhofe called Councilmember Schwartz and said that the matter had been referred to the Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife and Water, chaired by Senator Mike Crapo, who subsequently held a hearing on the matter on April 7, 2004.
Also on February 27, 2004, a press briefing was held by the Task Force regarding the issuance of water filters to the vulnerable population and the opening of D.C. General Hospital for lead testing. In addition, it was announced that mobile testing units would cover different wards of the city on Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays.
During the next two public oversight hearings on February 10 and February 25, 2004, Chair Schwartz addressed WASA's initial failure to adequately notify the public of the high levels of lead contamination in some District residents' tap water, and promised to continue holding hearings into the Lead Pipe Replacement Program administered by WASA to learn more.
In March of 2004, Chair Schwartz met with representatives of the DC Appleseed Center for Law and Justice ("Appleseed") and asked that they perform a review of regulations with respect to water contamination as well as conduct a comparison of water authority structures around the country. Anticipating that DC Appleseed was working on a national comparison, the Committee began a review of regional water authorities and their structures, which is included in this report.
A press conference at D.C. General Hospital was held on March 1, 2004 in order to provide an update of the progress on the lead in water issue. In addition, on that date, the Committee approved a resolution, the "Committee on Public Works and the Environment Investigation into the Conduct and Operations of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority Resolution of 2004," to conduct an investigation of WASA regarding the lead in water matter. That investigation is the subject of this report.
On March 2, 2004, the full Council unanimously adopted the investigation resolution as a Special Project, warranting the expenditure of up to $50,000 for the hiring of additional staff to conduct the investigation. (The Committee eventually expended only $13,533.41 on this investigation, instead of the $50,000 allocated.) Also on March 2, 2004, the fourth meeting of the Task Force was held.
On March 3, 2004, the Task Force established tri-weekly press briefings on the lead in water matter, to be held on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Also on that date, Chair Schwartz requested that the Office of the Inspector General look into the management of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, as she wanted to ensure that fundamental controls were in place and that sufficient detection and correction actions would be taken in the future (See Appendix C).
At the behest of the Task Force, beginning on March 6, 2004, the District's Emergency Management Agency distributed water filters at the Reeves Center to pregnant women, nursing mothers, and parents of children under the age of six that have lead service lines. On March 8, 2004, the fifth meeting of the Task Force took place.
Chair Schwartz met with the Lead Coalition, an ad hoc group of representatives from environmental organizations and the community, on March 15, 2004. On that date, the sixth meeting of the Task Force occurred. On March 17, 2004, the fourth public hearing on the Lead Service Replacement Program was held.
The Task Force then heard input from the Lead Coalition regarding community involvement and increased outreach with respect to the lead in water issue before its regularly scheduled meeting, its seventh, on March 22, 2004. On March 31, 2004, the eighth meeting of the Task Force took place. On that date, Chair Schwartz also called on WASA to provide water filters to the approximately 20,000 residences with unknown service line compositions.
The fifth public hearing on matters concerning the issue of lead in District drinking water and the Lead Service Replacement Program was held by Chair Schwartz on April 1, 2004. In addition, on that date, Chair Schwartz called on WASA to cancel any future meetings regarding proposed rate increases.
On April 2, 2004, Chair Schwartz participated in an online chat session on the lead issue with Washington Post readers. On April 19, 2004, the sixth public hearing on the lead issue was held by Chair Schwartz.
Chair Schwartz held the seventh public hearing on the lead issue on May 5, 2004, and the eighth public hearing on this issue on May 26, 2004. On June 17, 2004, the ninth public hearing on the lead issue was held by Chair Schwartz.
On June 27, 2004, the Council unanimously passed an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2005 Budget Support Act offered by Chair Schwartz and Councilmember Harold Brazil entitled the "Lead Service Line Priority Replacement Assistance Emergency Act of 2004." The purpose of this fund is to provide grants to eligible District homeowners of up to $2,500 to assist them in the replacement of the portion of their lead service line that is located on their private property (See Appendix F). In addition, Bill 15-980, the "Multiple Dwelling Residence Water Lead Level Test Act of 2004," authored by Chair Schwartz and Councilmember Sharon Ambrose, was unanimously approved on December 7, 2004 by the Council. This legislation, already enacted by the Council on emergency and temporary bases, authorizes the Mayor to require the owner of a multiple dwelling, upon written request by a rental tenant or owner-occupant of that dwelling, to order a water lead level test kit for that tenant or owner-occupant within 15 calendar days of receiving the written request. It also allows the tenant or owner-occupant to collect a sample of their tap water and have it tested for lead, ensures that the result is provided to the tenant or owner-occupant and any other rental tenant or owner-occupant of the dwelling who requests a copy and conspicuously posted on the premises, and establishes a penalty for failure to comply (See Appendix G).
On July 8, 2004, Chair Schwartz held the tenth public hearing on the lead in water issue and announced that the next hearing would occur after the Council's recess, on September 22, 2004.
The goals of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment's Special Project, which was authorized by the Council on March 2, 2004, were to:
In accordance with the above stated objectives, the Committee is issuing this report on its Special Project investigation. This report of the Special Project investigation contains an executive summary of the overall findings of the investigation, a national perspective concerning the issue of lead in water as it relates to other jurisdictions and municipalities and detailed hearing summaries for all Council public hearings held to date on this issue. The purpose of the summaries is to give the public a better understanding of how this issue was handled and addressed by the relevant agencies of the District and federal governments. The section entitled Committee Actions gives a detailed analysis of the activities undertaken by the Committee thus far to educate the public about lead in water and to help resolve this issue. Lastly, the conclusion offers recommendations based upon the findings of the Committee during its Special Project.
The Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) was originally passed by Congress in 1974 to protect public health by regulating the nation's public drinking water supply.5 The SDWA was amended in 1986 and 1996. This Act vests the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with the responsibility for regulating the quality of drinking water served by public water systems, which are defined as systems that have at least 15 service connections or serve at least 25 people per day for 60 days each year.6 Under the SDWA, EPA is required to set maximum contaminant level (MCL) goals which are intended to limit contaminants in drinking water to levels that will have no adverse effect on human health.7 When an MCL is set, EPA imposes monitoring and reporting requirements on public water systems which vary depending on the contaminant.8 Once the MCL is established, individual states are given the opportunity to take primary enforcement responsibility for that standard.9 States are given primary enforcement authority if they can demonstrate that they will adopt standards at least as stringent as EPA's and make sure that individual water systems meet those standards.10
The SDWA includes many components intended to ensure that drinking water is safe. The Act includes source water protection, treatment, distribution system integrity and public information. Water systems treat their water and must test their water for the specified contaminants and report these results. If standards are not being met, it is the responsibility of the water supplier to notify the customer. The 1996 amendments to the SDWA require that community water systems prepare annual consumer confidence reports on the source of their drinking water and the levels of contaminants found in the drinking water. This report is to be mailed to all water system customers.
Lead is one of the major contaminants of concern in drinking water, with infants and young children being particularly susceptible to adverse health effects. To address this, EPA, under the authority of the SDWA, promulgated the Lead and Copper Rule in June 199111. The purpose of this rule is to protect public health by minimizing lead and copper levels in drinking water. The primary means to minimize these levels is through the reduction of water corrosivity. Under this rule, an action level for lead of 15 parts per billion (ppb) was established. This action level is based on the 90th percentile level of tap water samples. Therefore, when the water is sampled, 90% of the samples must be below the action level. The number of samples collected is based on the population served by the water system. Initially, samples are collected for two consecutive six-month monitoring periods after which sampling is reduced to once per year for 3 years, then ultimately to once every 3 years.12
An action level exceedance can trigger additional requirements including water quality parameter monitoring, corrosion control treatment, source water monitoring/treatment, public education and lead service line replacement. Water quality parameter monitoring is used to determine water corrosivity and to help identify the type of corrosion control treatment to be installed if needed.13 Monitoring is done for pH, alkalinity, calcium, conductivity, orthophosphate, silica and temperature.14 Corrosion control treatment is required for all systems that exceed the action level. Once it is determined what corrosion control treatment to utilize, the public water system has 24 months to install it.15 All systems that exceed the lead action level must collect source water samples to determine the contribution from source water to the total tap water lead levels.16 Public education is also required for systems where the lead action level is exceeded.17 The purpose of the public education requirement is to inform the public water system customers about lead health effects, sources and what can be done to reduce exposure. Information includes billing inserts sent directly to customers, pamphlets and brochures distributed to hospitals and other locations that provide services to children and pregnant women. and public service announcements submitted to television and radio stations.18
In the United States, there are approximately 170,000 public drinking water systems.19 Each of these systems varies widely in size, age, organization and treatment technologies utilized. However, the majority of people in the United States get their water from these public water systems.20 Under the Lead and Copper Rule, public water systems are required to conduct monitoring of lead from customer taps. For each monitoring period, a system must report the lead level at the 90th percentile of homes monitored. The Safe Drinking Water Information System/Federal Version contains the information that water systems are required to submit to their states. Since 2002, states have been required to report to EPA the 90th percentile lead concentrations recorded by water systems.21 90th percentile data for systems serving more than 3,300 people must be submitted regardless of whether the system is over the action level.22 As of April 28, 2004, EPA had received data for 714, or 85.1%, of the 838 active systems that serve more than 50,000 people.23 Since 2000, 22 systems, or 3.1%, have exceeded the action level for lead.24 Only eight of the systems exceeded the action level during 2003.25 The total population served by systems that exceeded the action level for one or more monitoring periods since 2000 is 5.2 million people.26
This data demonstrates that the District is not alone in its struggle with lead in water problems. The District and WASA confront problems related to an antiquated water system distribution infrastructure with miles of lead service lines. Changes in water treatment programs have compounded problems by causing increased corrosivity in these lead service lines which, in turn, has increased lead levels in first draw and flush sampling results. Similar to the District, other municipalities over 50,000 people have experienced exceedances in lead in water levels. As is the case here, these exceedances are often the result of an antiquated water system distribution infrastructure. Many of these cities have also experienced increased corrosivity of lead service lines because of changes in water treatment. Changes in water treatment are often undertaken to address increased public concerns about microbial contamination in water and/or the adverse health effects of chlorine disinfection by-products. The 22 public water systems serving more than 50,000 people which have exceeded the lead action level since January 2000 are distributed throughout the United States and Puerto Rico.27 These systems range from smaller cities in the southeast like Henderson, North Carolina, to the large Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, which provides service to 28 cities and towns in the Boston metropolitan area.28
Three of these public water systems with reported exceedances were selected for a more detailed case study for this report. These systems are the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority, the Portland Water District in Maine and the Saint Paul Regional Water Services in Minnesota. These systems were selected because they exhibit many of the same characteristics of the District and WASA. Specifically, these systems are operated by public, often municipal or quasi-municipal, authorities. Additionally, all of these systems serve older cities with antiquated water treatment distribution systems which include miles of lead service lines. Further, these systems serve many diverse communities which include populations that speak different languages and have varied socio-economic conditions. By focusing on how these systems addressed their lead in water exceedances, the Committee sought to determine how these systems addressed corrosion control issues and the replacement of water distribution infrastructure, how they responded to the public and cultivated relationships with other key stakeholders, and how public education efforts were coordinated and delivered.
C. Case Study One – Saint Paul Regional Water Services
Water System Overview
The Saint Paul Regional Water Services (SPRWS) supplies drinking water to the City of Saint Paul, Minnesota and eight of the city's suburbs, including Arden Hills, Falcon Heights, Lauderdale, Little Canada, Roseville, Maplewood, Mendota Heights and West St. Paul.29 The utility employs 250 people, has an operating budget of about $33 million and is governed by the Board of Water Commissioners, which consists of three members of the Saint Paul City Council, and four public members (two Saint Paul residents, one Maplewood resident one Falcon Heights resident.)30 Administration of the day-to-day operation of the utility is under the direction of a general manager, who is appointed by and responsible to the Board.31 The SPRWS is entirely self-supporting with revenue obtained through the sale of water and payment for services provided to other entities.32 State law establishes the Board and provides that the rates charged be adequate to cover all costs of operation and maintenance.33 Therefore, no taxes are used to support the utility.
Nature of Lead-in-Water Problem
The SPRWS most recently exceeded the lead action level at the end of the monitoring period on June 30, 2000.36 SDWIS/FED data for public water systems serving more than 50,000 people indicated that the SPRWS had a lead 90th percentile measure of 19 ppb during this period.37 These levels have fallen over the past four years, going from 15 ppb at the end of December 2000 to the most recent testing data of 11 ppb.38 The water system has "consistently been below the action limit for the past four years."39 The SPRWS also had 23,923 full and partial lead service lines in use throughout their water distribution system as recently as 1998.40
Lead Reduction Measures Implemented
According to a representative of the SPRWS, this water system began to implement its lead in water mitigation program in 1992.41 Overall, the SPRWS's control strategy included a three-pronged approach: adjustment of water treatment methods, carrying out an aggressive lead service line replacement program and offering incentives to property owners to replace lead plumbing on private property.42 It was the assessment of the SPRWS representative that this overall program implementation was a direct result of the enactment of the Lead and Copper Rule in 1991.43 However, measures had "long been underway" within the water distribution system to replace lead service lines as they were encountered during routine street excavation activities.44
To decrease the corrosivity of the water in its distribution system, the SPRWS made some adjustments to its treatment methods. First, the utility adjusted the pH level from an initial pH of around 8.4 to 9.2.45 This higher pH level is near the minimum lead solubility pH of 9.4, but is low enough to prevent excessive scaling in the distribution system.46 However, according to a representative of the Minnesota Department of Health, the effectiveness of this pH adjustment has not been completely consistent.47 Specifically, in her words, "pH adjustment does well in wintertime but not so well in summer. The November round of sampling typically met the lead action levels but with the warmer months of sampling, the samples failed."48 Additionally, pH adjustment "leads to too much calcification in hot water pipes which causes a smaller diameter in the pipes, with a loss of water pressure."49 This calcification also proved to impact many of the system water meters because they clogged up and could not accurately measure water flow.50
An additional corrosion control measure was taken by SPRWS by the incorporation of stannous (tin) chloride into the pipe scale, making it less prone to lead leaching.51 Basically, "tin hardens the pipe scale."52
The second prong of the SPRWS's control strategy revolved around a water service line replacement program. In 1992, it began replacing lead services in areas where the city's Public Works Department was reconstructing the streets.53 By 1996, the SPRWS began a "coordinated effort" to directly work with the Public Works Department to "prioritize replacement projects by selecting areas that had a high number of lead service lines."54 According to officials, this coordinated effort worked well in directing limited city resources to areas with streets needing reconstruction or repaving which often were over the "problem lines." By 1998, the SPRWS was required by the Minnesota Department of Health to implement the lead service replacement program outlined in the EPA's Lead and Copper Rule "because they failed to meet the action level for lead within the allotted time."55 Each year, until the water authority meets the action level for lead, it was required to replace 7% of the system's total lead service lines. According to the Minnesota Department of Health representative, the SPRWS was not in compliance with the lead action level from 1998 to 2000.56 During this time, the system replaced a total of 2,927 lead service lines.57 The replacement of lead service lines requirement was lifted when the SPRWS met the action level in late 2000. However, both the representative of the Minnesota Department of Health and the SPRWS noted that this water system still voluntarily continues the replacement program.58 Specifically, this program continues "when we see a lead service line during the course of street replacement or services, we take it out and replace it."59
The final prong of the SPRWS's control strategy involves an effort to reduce lead plumbing in private properties within its service area.60 The representative of the SPRWS assessed the problem by stating that "the largest portion of our service area consists of older properties that still have lead plumbing."61 To help reduce lead plumbing in these private properties, the water system began an incentive program for property owners to have their plumbing replaced.62 This incentive program works by allowing for homeowners to assess the cost of the lead replacement for a period of up to 20 years at a low interest rate (currently 4.75%).63 The Minnesota Department of Health had no involvement in this program as there is "no federal or state funding for this program; it is solely a water authority program".64
Community Relations/Outreach Efforts
Under the Lead and Copper Rule, public education and outreach is required to be conducted by systems when the lead action level is exceeded. The purpose is to inform the water system's customers about lead health effects, sources of contaminants and what can be done to reduce exposure. Information includes billing inserts sent directly to customers, pamphlets and brochures distributed to hospitals and other locations that provide services to pregnant women and children, and public service announcements submitted to television and radio stations.
The representative of the Minnesota Department of Health stated that the SPRWS was in full compliance with these Lead and Copper Rule public education requirements during the period up until 2000, when the system was not meeting the action level.65 Public education efforts included public radio and television spots in three different languages: Spanish, English and Mong.66 The SPRWS stated that it mailed out multiple informational flyers and brochures which were produced in different languages.67 "The SPRWS was required to certify to the Minnesota Department of Health that it conducted these public outreach/education initiatives, which it did do."68 Neither representative could provide any first-hand knowledge of whether or not any public information sessions were conducted by either the SPRWS or the Department of Health.
Other outreach efforts included a "Get the Lead Out Campaign," which was started in the mid-1990s.69 This outreach effort was coordinated and spearheaded by the Minnesota Department of Health. The SPRWS decided to participate in this program after being approached by the Department of Health.70 The actual level of the system's involvement is not well defined. However, much of the outreach materials, including a refrigerator magnet and advertisements on grocery bags, were paid by in-kind donations or by the Department of Health.71 These outreach materials generally stated "that the customer needs to get their water tested, and to let the water run before using." Contact information was also provided on these materials.72
SPRWS continues to provide information about lead in water on their public website.73 This information includes details on why testing for lead is conducted, how lead gets into household water and why lead is a public health problem. SPRWS also provides details on how to have household water tested by a private laboratory. Specifically, citizens are encouraged to contact the customer service department to obtain a list of certified labs. The website also details what the SPRWS is doing about lead. These steps include testing the source water from rivers, lakes and wells for lead contamination, treating the water in the system to reduce the amount of lead absorbed from plumbing, and replacing lead service lines in the water supply system as needed. The website also recommends that customers let the water run for three to five minutes to clear the lead from the pipes. Also, customers are instructed to not use hot water directly from the faucet for cooking or drinking because hot water dissolves lead more quickly than cold water.
SPRWS issued two press releases in 2000 in response to lead issues. These press releases are posted on the SPRWS public website.74 On January 24, 2000, the SPRWS highlighted that it had begun efforts to address lead in water exceedences. These efforts included "replacing the public portion of lead services to about 1,000 homes a year." This press release also stated that the SPRWS was "establishing a program that makes it easier financially for property owners … to replace the portion of the lead water services that is on their property." SPRWS also addressed corrosion control by changing the corrosion control strategy from pH adjustment with sodium hydroxide to the use of phosphate inhibitors, which limits the release of lead from plumbing into the drinking water. A press release from July 18, 2000 also highlights the above efforts under the headline "SPRWS continues to address lead issues."
In the assessment of the SPRWS representative, its lead in water control strategy has worked very well.75 She highlighted the proactive efforts undertaken by the water system, including the homeowner assessment program that continues today.76 Specifically, in 2003, approximately 150 property owners took advantage of this program.77 Further, she also highlighted the fact that the SPRWS had been replacing lead service lines "before they were required to do so under the Lead and Copper Rule."78 Additionally, "this program continues today voluntarily." Coordinating these replacement efforts with the city's Public Works Department has "focused and streamlined the line replacement efforts, which is a win-win for all stakeholders."79 She encouraged other cities' water utilities to work closely with their public works departments in line service replacement efforts. For 2004, the SPRWS lead service replacement program calls for replacing 400 services in paving areas.80 Another 200 are scheduled for replacement for other reasons (leaking pipes or where property owners have already replaced their portion).81
It was the assessment of the Minnesota Department of Health representative that the "SPRWS has been very proactive in all of their lead control strategies. Our department is not required to provide them with much feedback."82 She also applauded the voluntary lead replacement line program that continues today. It was her assessment that the individual homeowner program "has not been very successful, as cost is still a big issue."83 Specifically, "high out-of-pocket costs are two to three thousand dollars per household, and many of these homes are in older, low-income communities." During 1999-2000, the peak year of the assessment option, about 400 property owners took advantage of the program.84 According to the Minnesota Department of Health, this equals close to a "20% participation in this program."85 No specific suggestions were given as to how to improve this program.
D. Case Study Two -- Portland Water District, Maine
Water System Overview
The Portland Water District (PWD) serves nearly 200,000 people – 47,000 customers in 11 Greater Portland communities.86 PWD delivers water service to Falmouth, Raymond, Scarborough, South Portland and Standish and provides water and wastewater service to Cape Elizabeth, Cumberland, Gorham, Portland, Westbrook and Windham.87 PWD has 190 employees and a 140 square mile service area with a daily average of 25 million gallons of water delivered.88 There are approximately 900 miles of pipe in the service line system.
Sebago Lake, a natural lake west of the City of Portland, is the water source for the majority of the PWD customers. Sebago Lake is clean enough to be exempt from the expensive filtration processes required with most surface water sources.89 PWD is a completely unfiltered system.
The PWD is a "quasi-municipal authority."90 The authority is comprised of a Board of Trustees, with the board members individually elected by each of the PWD participating communities.91 According to the PWD representative, the Board of Trustees "has had no active role in the lead issues. They set the policy for the authority but left it up to the technical staff to address actual water quality issues."92 Individual PWD staff provides monthly reports to the Board members.93 During the lead in water exceedances, these monthly reports included updates on the status of the implemented control programs.94
Nature of Lead-in-Water Problem
The PWD most recently exceeded the lead action level of 15 parts per billion at the end of the monitoring period in December 2000.95 SDWIS/FED data for public water systems serving more than 50,000 people indicated that the SPRWS had a lead 90th percentile measure of 16 ppb during this period.96 These levels have fallen significantly over the past 10 years, going from 66 ppb in 1997 to 43 ppb in 1998 and 19 ppb in 1999.97 Results of water lead levels from 2002 and 2003 have fallen even further.98 PWD reduced monitoring sites last year with 50 homes now being tested on an annual basis.99
Lead Reduction Measures Implemented
According to a representative of the Maine Bureau of Health, Drinking Water Section, the PWD was using orthophosphate for water treatment until the early 1990s.100 When the Lead and Copper Rule was issued, the PWD made the decision to hire a consultant, Wright Pierce Associates. This consultant assisted the PWD in looking at different treatment strategies to address the elevated lead levels. A decision was made to adjust the treatment to zinc orthophosphate. However, this treatment strategy led to problems with the quality of the water treatment sludge. Therefore, throughout the mid-1990s, PWD decided to use other water treatment blends that would also work to raise pH and reduce corrosivity of the water. Polyphosphate was used but proved to be not effective for lead as there continued to be exceedances. Polyphosphate also caused problems for major industries because it was "going through the ion exchange and causing damage." PWD then decided to use a different form of zinc orthophosphate which was no longer causing problems with sludge quality. The representative of the Maine Bureau of Health added that these continual changes in the water treatment processes led to consistent problems with elevated lead levels because "every time we make a change in pH or dosage, the next round of sampling went higher than the following round."101 By the late 1990s, levels of lead in water were coming down and were close to passing the 90th percentile exposure levels. However, PWD was concerned about the health effects of the water disinfection by-products. A decision was made to add ozone and chloramines, which served to impact corrosion control. Specifically, ozone is a natural oxidizer that saturates the system with oxygen, resulting in added corrosiveness affecting water chemistry. "Any time you change water chemistry, you need to regularly test and be aware of your distribution system and make adjustments accordingly."102
PWD has also been "very proactive" in the replacement of lead service lines.103 According to the representative of the Maine Bureau of Health, PWD began replacing these lead service lines in the mid to late 1980s, basically "doing this work before they had to." As recently as seven years ago, PWD had replaced all but seven service lines. Today, PWD does not have any lead service lines. Lead is only found on privately owned lines. A representative of the PWD stated that there are five of these privately owned lead lines.104 He stated that the water authority has been proactive in contacting the owners of these lines advising them to replace them. Specifically, certified letters were sent out to the property owners with information on how these lines could be replaced. However, PWD did not offer or participate in any low-interest loan incentive programs for these homeowners. The representative of PWD stated that the number of impacted homes was too few to justify the provisions of incentive programs. Recent follow up with these affected property owners determined that all but one of the lines have been replaced.
PWD's water distribution network still does have some "lead goose necks" (a type of soldering) which are scattered throughout the system.105 PWD has replaced most of the wrought iron galvanized pipe but not all of these have lead goose necks. According to the PWD, "efforts will continue on an as needed basis, replacing these goose necks as they are no longer functional."106
Community Relations/Outreach Efforts
As previously mentioned, the Lead and Copper Rule mandates that public education programs be implemented for systems when the lead action level is exceeded. The purpose of the public education is to inform the water system's customers about lead health effects, sources of contamination and what can be done to reduce exposure. Information includes billing inserts sent directly to customers, pamphlets and brochures distributed to hospitals and other locations that provide services to pregnant women and children and public service announcements submitted to television and radio stations.
According to the representative of the Maine Bureau of Health, the PWD took an "aggressive" public relations approach to reach out to customers.107 It sent out information, including a pamphlet on lead in water, with the Customer Confidence Reports (CCR). This pamphlet says to "run water for at least one minute and do not use hot water and don't use water for making baby formula." This information was sent out annually and went to "every household versus every customer because some households do not actually pay the water bill, specifically renters." The representative of the Maine Bureau of Health also stated that the PWD might have also included an informative letter with these CCR mailings.108 All told, in his assessment, the PWD "did a more aggressive approach than what was required by the lead and copper rule, which helped to stamp out any potential fires." Neither the PWD nor Maine Bureau of Health representatives recalled if any public hearing or public information sessions were held.
The PWD representative stated that lead in water exceedances have been distributed throughout their system, so it was "necessary for us to be very proactive about the lead problem. Since day one we have been upfront with our customers. We established trust, so that they know we are doing the best we can to protect their interests."109 He recommends that other water authorities communicate "open and freely" with their customers when any problems arise.
The PWD representative also stated that it has a good community outreach program coordinated by a public relations person who "is always distributing information to our stakeholders. She deals with press directly and refers them to the technical experts accordingly." These technical experts assist in working with stakeholders to resolve any issues.
The PWD also was proactive in "getting out and replacing lead service lines in the early 1980s" doing this "before they had to."110 As a result, there are no lead service lines in their system today.
The representative of the Maine Bureau of Health also was generally positive in his assessment of the efforts of the PWD.111 He specifically commended the efforts to send out CCR reports to every household instead of every customer, which made it possible for the information to reach all of the affected consumers, including property renters.
E. Case Study Three – Massachusetts Water Resources Authority
Water System Overview
The Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) is a Massachusetts public authority established by an act of the Legislature in 1984 to provide wholesale water and sewer services to 2.5 million people and multiple large industrial users in 61 metropolitan Boston communities.112 It serves 890,000 households and supplies an average of 255 million gallons of water per day.113 The MWRA is governed by an 11-member Board of Directors who are appointed by the Governor or directly or indirectly elected officials in the MWRA customer communities.114
Nature of Lead-in-Water Problem
MWRA had been steadily bringing down lead levels. Beginning in the early 1990s, lead levels approached 50 ppb.115 However, with the exception of the year 2002, the MWRA has never been in compliance with the lead action level of 15 ppb.116 In 2002, the authority met the EPA's action level with 90th Percentile values of 11.3 ppb.117 In 2003, values increased to 16.2 ppb with the following communities exceeding the action level: Everett, Framingham, Lynnfield Water District, Medford, Melrose, Newton, Norwood, Somerville, Winthrop and Weston.118 The representative of the MWRA attributes this increase to "a couple of bad samples for tested households" but was adamant in stating that this sampling was "not reflective" of the improvements that MWRA has made.119 He added that for 2004, lead in water levels are coming back down, as the 90th percentile was 14 ppb. The MWRA is now in the process of conducting a second round of tests.
In addition to these lead in water exceedances, the MWRA has also been found by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) to not be collecting the appropriate number of drinking water samples on a historical basis.120 Specifically, in 2003, the MWRA only collected 425 of the required 440 drinking water samples.121 MWRA comprises over 23 communities, each with different sampling numbers required. To add more complexity to the situation, when DEP told EPA that MWRA was in violation of EPA's monitoring requirements and therefore could not do an accurate 90th percentile reading, EPA responded that its "current guidance is no longer accurate despite the fact that it is still posted on the EPA website."122
A Notice of Non-Compliance was issued to MWRA by DEP because of the failure to collect the appropriate number of samples.123 Pursuant to this notice, MWRA was required to do the following: (1) provide public notice to all of its customers, including notification in newspapers in the service area as well as a notification insert in the CCR (the actual insert includes "federally mandated language");124 (2) revise its sampling plan so that it obtains the appropriate number of samples, and; (3) conduct lead service line replacements.125 The actual plan of action for this replacement program has not yet been submitted by the MWRA to DEP.126 MWRA stated that it is still working on its approach, which will necessitate the participation of the individual municipalities in the service area.127
Lead Reduction Measures Implemented
The Boston metropolitan area has conditions which make it susceptible to elevated lead in water levels. Specifically, MWRA obtains its drinking water from two "high quality, beautiful reservoirs in Central Massachusetts, which happen to be low in pH, with low alkalinity which make the water naturally corrosive."128 This factor, in combination with an "old housing stock and lead service lines/piping, leads to elevated levels."129 It is estimated that a minimum of 10% of water service lines within the MWRA distribution system contain lead pipes.130
In 1992, when elevated results were first discovered from the initial testing rounds, MWRA hired a "team of national experts" to address the problem.131 The MWRA has a solid working relationship with EPA Region I, DEP and the Massachusetts Department of Health and worked closely with these agencies to receive and implement corrective actions. "When we built the corrosion control facility, we fully implemented recommendations of all of our consultants and EPA and worked closely with all of these folks."132
The team "tested different treatment technologies and strategies in 1993-1994."133 This testing led to the decision to build the Interim Corrosion Control Facility in Marlborough, which became fully operational in 1996. This facility works to raise water chemistry pH to 9.1 and alkalinity to 40 parts per million, reducing corrosivity. In the span of less than 10 years, in the MWRA representative's assessment, this facility has been "extremely successful" in reducing levels from 50 ppb into the teens.
In addition to this corrosion control facility, the MWRA has also worked to replace lead service lines. Close to 90% of the lead service lines in the City of Boston have been replaced and some of the outlying communities in the MWRA system have no remaining lead service lines.134 As part of the 2003 exceedences, under a Massachusetts DEP Consent Order, the 10 communities that are over the limit will have "some mandatory element for lead service line replacement."135 Specifically, 7% of these lines must be replaced on an annual basis until these communities come into compliance. As part of the replacement efforts, the individual towns need to establish actual plans for replacement and mail out a letter 45 days in advance to homeowners detailing the efforts. These letters also state that the homeowners may elect to use the contractors to fix and replace their own interior connections at a cost to the homeowner. MWRA has established a no-interest loan program to these impacted communities to assist in the replacement of these water lines.136 Approximately 25 million dollars has been made available per year to these communities under this program.137 The challenge remains "what to do about the connections in private homes."138 There is no low interest loan program to assist the individual homeowners with the replacement of their connections.139
Community Relations/Outreach Efforts
In response to the public education requirements of the Lead and Copper Rule, MWRA implemented a "massive public relations campaign."140 This outreach campaign included the placement of public service announcements on television and radio. With these announcements, customers were informed to "let the water run before using [it]."141 MWRA also has produced informative brochures which have been "extensively mailed to customers as part of both the water bills and CCRs,"142 and has posted this informational brochure on its public website and on the websites of all of the communities comprising their service area.143
MWRA has participated in Women and Infant Children (WIC) programs, where refrigerator magnets were distributed informing this affected population to "let the water run."144 This refrigerator magnet included an attached informational brochure. According to the representative of the MWRA, most of these public outreach campaigns have been conducted in different languages, including Spanish. There has also been outreach to social service organizations serving the communities.
MWRA also established a phone line, 242-LEAD. This phone line used to be referred to as the "Lead Line" but is now called the "Water Quality Hotline."145 The MWRA representative stated that "the same people have been staffing this hotline over time, which makes it really effective and informative." 146
Conversations with a Water Quality Hotline staffer revealed that this hotline is staffed 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., 5 days a week, and utilizes a voice mail system to intercept after- hours calls.147 Two people work the hotline full time. The hotline has been around "for at least 20 years" and typically fields approximately two to three calls per day. Most of the callers are pregnant women or people with small children. However, with the recent publicity about lead in water, specifically in the District, the hotline has seen a large increase in the number of calls received per day. "We get calls when articles about lead in water appear in local papers." The hotline staffer also stated many of the callers ask whether or not their homes have lead service lines. She tells them that the MWRA does not maintain these types of records and recommends for them to contact their local town public works departments. She also refers callers to the MWRA website in order to both obtain a list of certified drinking water testing labs and access the posted informational brochure. Conversations with the MWRA representative revealed that this list of labs is updated frequently.148 He also stated that some of the individual communities even pay for private home testing. The MWRA representative did not know which communities paid for this testing but stated that the MWRA as an entity does not pay for any testing.
Despite these many outreach efforts, there was an assessment in some segments of the service area population that these efforts were not successful. This assessment was voiced by a representative of the Clean Water Action Group. The Clean Water Action Group is a leading nationwide non-profit environmental organization which has a local Boston office. The representative voiced that the outreach efforts of MWRA have been generally poor.149 He stated that "there is no concrete information out there for the public." They "just tell people to run their water for a few seconds."
The representative of DEP differed considerably in his assessment of the MWRA's outreach efforts. It was his opinion that the "MWRA public outreach and communication programs have been extremely effective."150
III. COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC WORKS AND THE ENVIRONMENT PUBLIC OVERSIGHT HEARING SUMMARIES ON THE LEAD IN WATER MATTER
Summary of February 4, 2004 Public Roundtable
The first public roundtable hearing by the Committee on the issue of lead in water was held by Chair Schwartz on February 4, 2004. At this roundtable, Chair Schwartz publicly announced that she was working with the Mayor to create a Task Force to review the problem and begin to develop solutions to it.
The roundtable had three primary results: (1) it provided an opportunity for District residents and the Council to express their dismay and concern and to ask questions of WASA, EPA, the Washington Aqueduct and DOH; (2) information provided at the hearing described the extent of the problem and what was known and not known, and; (3) and potential solutions began to emerge.
Councilmember Adrian Fenty pressed WASA to identify the homes in his Ward that had lead service lines and to more clearly explain the sampling methods used in the lead tests. Chair Schwartz recommended that WASA provide each Councilmember with large-scale maps that identify the areas of the city with lead service lines.
Councilmember Graham closely questioned WASA officials about "where to draw the line" regarding what level of lead contamination should prompt real concern and what level is of less concern. He was told that WASA officials did not know, and, in fact, knew little about the consequences of lead contamination. They said they had not worked with DOH or other authorities to learn the health effects. "You didn't know the health consequences? That's astounding! Why didn't you find out?," asked Councilmember Graham.
Councilmember Kathy Patterson pressed WASA to pay special attention to schools and group homes in the water lead level testing. Councilmember Phil Mendelson also attended the hearing.
Summary of Public Witness Testimony
Public testimony at the roundtable was critical of WASA. Public concern centered on three points: the lack of a clear and attention-getting warning from WASA, continuing difficulty in getting information about what the public should do, and the health effects of lead poisoning.
Charles F. Eason, Jr. stated that "WASA used our children as lab rats." He was accompanied by his young grandson who Mr. Eason said often spent time at his house. Mr. Eason furthered stated, "my own involvement in this issue began when [WASA] wrote me in August of last year and asked that I participate in a water testing program. Nothing in that letter indicated previous WASA tests had detected elevated lead levels, or that WASA believed, as they apparently did, that homes such as mine with lead service lines were at an increased risk for lead contamination."
Evanna Powell requested that the Council increase its oversight of WASA for the benefit of her and other District citizens, residents, taxpayers and WASA ratepayers. Ms. Powell went on to suggest that the Council order the reinstatement of Ms. Bhat (the former WASA employee who testified at the Committee's February 10 hearing) at WASA as well as order WASA to improve the quality of drinking water in the District. At the conclusion of Ms. Powell's testimony, Chair Schwartz stated that she appreciated Ms. Powell's testimony but that the Council could not order WASA to do anything because WASA is a quasi-independent agency. Chair Schwartz discussed legislation introduced by Chairman Cropp during the present legislative session which would make WASA a public utility. Chair Schwartz recognized that this legislation would again make WASA a for-profit entity and that she had concerns about that. However, she also said that at times like this, she is taking a second look at WASA's structure.
Paul Schwartz, National Policy Coordinator for Clean Water Action, stated that "WASA's communications with the public were inadequate and must improve." He also said that WASA needed to take several other steps to safeguard the water supply and improve its treatment system. Mr. Schwartz suggested that WASA upgrade filtration plants, repair and replace the reservoirs and pipes, do more to protect the surface water source (the Potomac River), institute waterborne disease surveillance, and create a District Water Citizens' Utility Board.
In response to Mr. Schwartz's testimony, Councilmember Patterson asked if he could provide a context for the problem that the District was experiencing. "Are we worse or better than or the same as other jurisdictions and surrounding municipalities? Please help us understand," asked Councilmember Patterson. Mr. Schwartz responded that in a big city like New York, which has a tremendous budgetary problem and shares the same needs as our city, and which conducted over 20,000 free lead tests, it indicates a much more proactive fulfillment of the lead and copper rule and public education and outreach. It also helped to arm those who have a problem with information, because 15% of those residences tested in New York had high lead levels. Mr. Schwartz concluded that there needs to be a sea change at WASA, by listening to people and putting public health and the environment first.
Councilmember Fenty asked Mr. Schwartz what he would say to someone who says that the drinking water throughout the District is safe. Mr. Schwartz answered that he thinks most people, other than small children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and the frail or elderly should be able to drink the water without worrying about health impacts. He said that the revelation about high lead levels is some District drinking water rattles the confidence people have and wastes the good work that has been done by WASA over the past years in terms building good community relations. Mr. Schwartz cautioned people not to panic and use bottled water or home filtration systems that may not address the issue. He said that bottled water is less well regulated than tap water.
In response, Councilmember Fenty asked that, if given the fact that two-thirds of the houses tested had water lead levels above 15 parts per billion, is it fair for someone continue to say that the water in the District of Columbia was safe. Mr. Schwartz answered, "No, it's not fair for those people in all 23,000 households that have been identified with having lead service lines. They should be proactively contacted by WASA, they should go out and get tests for them and they should make more information about this available city-wide and not just individual to individual, in order to reassure people about what they are doing. WASA inherited this problem; they didn't lay the lead pipes down. The corrosion control program that they operate with the Washington Aqueduct and the rate in which they are prioritizing spending money for lead service replacement lines all of that is all brought into question. There are huge amounts of infrastructure needs for our drinking water, wastewater and storm water and we do not have the money on our own to get it."
Satu Haase Webb expressed her outrage and distress as a District resident and mother, after learning that the water that she and her family had been drinking was unsafe. Her drinking water contained over 20 times the allowed levels of lead set by the EPA.
Christopher Hawthorne, President of AFGE Local 872 and Commissioner of ANC 8E03, stated, "I am deeply disgusted with the manner in which [WASA] clearly downplayed the issues surrounding the excessive levels of lead in our water supply."
Mary C. Williams, Commissioner of ANC 6D03, stated that WASA officials contend that they complied with EPA standards by notifying the affected residents of the problem and that they did not call a press conference to alert the public because they did not want to be "alarmists." She said that WASA contends that they were acting "responsibly," but pointed out that WASA did not comply with EPA standards because it did not notify all of the affected residents of this hazard, and that this failure to communicate the seriousness of this problem is viewed as negligent.
Erik D. Olson, Senior Attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council, chastised WASA for its "lack of candor." He further stated that WASA needs to notify all 23,000 homes that are identified as having lead service lines and offer them free service line replacement. In addition, he said free blood tests should be offered. In order to provide better public supervision of WASA and the Aqueduct, Mr. Olson suggested two levels of oversight – first, a blue ribbon panel of citizens and experts to review WASA's performance and, second, a citizen utility board which would act as an independent review board and which would be instituted after the blue ribbon panel to provide a continuous review of WASA and the Aqueduct's work. He said that the review of WASA and the Aqueduct should go beyond the lead level and investigate microbial contamination and watershed protection. Lastly, Mr. Olson said WASA and the Aqueduct should act fast to deal with the problem of aggressive corrosion.
Jerome A. Paulson, M.D., Co-Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment and Medical Advisor for the Children's Environmental Health Network, testified about the effects of lead on human health and recommended actions that can be taken to manage the medical aspects of the problem of lead contaminated drinking water in the District. Dr. Paulson then gave recommendations for action on preventing lead exposure. These included:
Paul McKay said that he figured that many residents were scrambling to find answers to lead problems. In response to this, Mr. McKay designed and launched a website, www.purewaterdc.com, that he hoped would be helpful to District residents.
David Roodman testified that he volunteered for the original testing done by WASA as early as August of 2003, but got no response. At this point, Mr. Roodman admitted that he was worried for his children, who are still developing.
Faith Wheeler stated that "my plumbing company of many years tells me that, although I have replaced all of the lead pipes inside my home, the pipe outside my house is lead. Furthermore, the portion leading from my house to the meter in my front yard is my responsibility, not WASA's to replace if I wish. However, the portion of the outside pipe between the water meter and the main is the responsibility of WASA."
Nicole Rosen told the Council that she was six months pregnant. "Since becoming pregnant, I haven't had one alcoholic beverage, I avoid smoky environments, I don't eat mercury-infected fish or soft cheeses that can contain bacteria, I have increased my intake of fruits and vegetables and have done everything I can to ensure that my baby is developing in as healthy an environment as he or she can. That included, up until Saturday, I was drinking 60 to 80 ounces of water a day to prevent fetal dehydration, which, it now turns out, was possibly one of the worst things I could have done for my baby," she told the Council. "I'm of course, absolutely appalled that WASA kept this contamination a secret from the majority of its customers for 2 years or more," said Ms. Rosen. She went on to say, as Mr. Eason had said, that she still found it very difficult to get information from WASA.
Summary of WASA Testimony
Glen Gerstell, Chairman of the Board of Directors, WASA, testified that he had four simple points that WASA wanted to tell their customers and the Council:
Mr. Gerstell said, "That has been and will continue to be our policy. We have tried to publicize this but it is obvious from the news of the past few days that our message didn't get through. We will redouble our efforts to make sure our citizens get the information they need and deserve. [WASA] can and will do a better in communicating with the public and government officials. I and the other volunteer board members live here, too; our families drink water and we want our questions about water quality answered to our full satisfaction just as you do."
Mr. Gerstell also stated, "I am pleased that we can say that we are, and have continuously for years been, in full compliance with rules on water quality. That fact is very important and needs to come through to our citizens. I don't say that to pat ourselves on the back, but to reassure the public about the safety of our water supply system. [WASA] and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers run hundreds of tests every week on our drinking water throughout the 1,300 miles of water pipes under District streets. Those tests show we are meeting and surpassing federal standards as to biological contaminants and have no sign of contamination by lead or copper or other inappropriate elements."
Furthermore, Mr. Gerstell pointed out that after elevated lead readings were noticed in 2002, WASA distributed a brochure as an insert to the Washington Post and the Washington Times and issued an announcement encouraging testing. In March and May of 2003, WASA had community meetings and meetings with local ANC commissioners about the lead service pipe replacement program.
Chair Schwartz stated to WASA officials that she was furious at the way this entire issue was handled or, in effect, covered up. She then read from a recent Washington Post article in which Mr. Gerstell stated that WASA had mailed a letter (See Appendix H) to all thirteen District Councilmembers last February noting that initial tests had exceeded the EPA action level, and that WASA did not hold a press conference to report its results. Chair Schwartz went on to point out that the letter sent to the Council by WASA neglected to address the exceedance of the lead action level for some District homes. Furthermore, she mentioned that the letter also lacked a serious sense of urgency to educate the public, and that it simply addressed the lead service line replacement program and gave the regulatory procedures:
Holding up the 2002 Drinking Water Quality Report, Chair Schwartz noted that the contradiction between the title of the report, "Your Drinking Water is Safe" and the paragraphs in the text that mention only the dangers of lead, but nothing that would alarm anyone. She said that the text was so nondescript that no one would see it. Next, Chair Schwartz held up a bill insert from August 2003 and asked Mr. Gerstell if he would read it if it wasn't a life or death situation. "Some I would, some I would not," answered Mr. Gerstell. "Well, you are in the minority, I assure you," stated Chair Schwartz. After reading the opening paragraph of the insert, Mr. Gerstell added that this particular notice received a lot of attention because it was about a rate increase. Chair Schwartz went on to point out the lack of urgent notice within the bill insert and strongly criticized Mr. Gerstell for the lack of notice to District residents.
Councilmember Graham expressed his appreciation for Chair Schwartz's comments and her outrage on this issue, which matched that of his constituents. Councilmember Graham suggested that WASA should have called an emergency press conference to lay before the people as forthrightly as possible all the problems.
Michael Marcotte, Deputy Director and Chief Engineer of WASA, told the Committee that the introduction of chloramines in order to reduce cancer-causing byproducts of the disinfection process was coincident with the increase in the lead concentrations. He said WASA tests suggest that the major part of the lead in water comes from the lead service lines. Mr. Marcotte said that WASA plans to expand lead monitoring and will continue testing. He said that the goal is to test all 23,000 homes thought to have lead service lines, and that the testing program is being streamlined in order to provide homeowners their test reports within 30 days.
In addition, Mr. Marcotte stated that WASA will continue to
replace lead service lines. He said that experience shows that it
costs $10,000 to replace a service line in the public space and
between $2,000 and $3,000 on private property. Mr. Marcotte noted
WASA's advice that people run water for several minutes before using
it if the water has been sitting unused in the pipes for six hours
or more and said that he expected people might be skeptical and
might see the advice as a ploy to increase water use and revenue to
WASA. To avoid waste, he suggested that people shower or do laundry
before using water for drinking or cooking.
Summary of Washington Aqueduct Testimony
Thomas P. Jacobus, General Manager of the Washington Aqueduct (which supplies water to WASA for delivery to customers), testified that all water treatment decisions had been done in coordination and compliance with EPA. He said the current corrosion control plan, which is the primary approach used to minimize exposing water customers to lead and copper contaminants in water, relies on controlling the pH (acidity or alkalinity) of water. He noted that it was developed in conjunction with EPA. Mr. Jacobus said that tests have found that lead service lines, lead in solder joints and lead in plumbing fixtures are the sources of lead in some of the drinking water. He said that to reduce corrosion, the Aqueduct was looking at changes to its corrosion control plan.
Summary of DOH Testimony
Walter Faggett, M.D., Interim Chief Medical Officer at DOH and a practicing pediatrician in the city, said that there was a difference of opinion within the medical community on the risks of elevated lead in water for small children and pregnant women and fetuses. He said that lead in water is less of a hazard than peeling lead paint. Dr. Faggett noted that children with lead poisoning can be asymptomatic and that concerned parents should have children tested. He said that new information brochures have been prepared by DOH to educate District residents about the risks of lead exposure and steps to take to lower the risk of exposure.
Summary of the February 10, 2004 Public Roundtable
At the second public roundtable hearing to investigate the response to the revelation that the District's public water supply had lead levels that exceed the EPA's action levels, held on February 10, 2004, Chair Schwartz stated, "Last week we focused on the lack of adequate notification from WASA officials about the high levels of lead in our drinking water. It was only on Wednesday of last week that the public and the Council got to hear the story as told by WASA. Today, we are going to focus on how we can best address the lead issue." Chair Schwartz then asked a series of questions pertaining to addressing the problem.
Councilmember Patterson raised the question of who should take the lead in getting health and action information to the public. Jerry Johnson, General Manager of WASA, answered that WASA would pay for materials and distribution but that experts needed to provide the information. Additionally, Councilmember Patterson wanted to know what the WASA Board knew about this matter and when. She also asked what steps were taken and what direction was given. Mr. Gerstell stated, "How did we get in a situation where there is a crisis of confidence? The issue came to our attention in the fall of 2002. Fifty samples had come back and were elevated. This triggered the requirement to do more sampling. Sampling was done, and only this past December or January did the results of the sampling and the large numbers become available and known to the Board."
Councilmember Graham questioned WASA as to what level of lead in water should a homeowner be concerned about and at what level should blood tests be given. WASA answered that health officials had no consensus about the dangers of lead ingestion. Councilmember Graham then chastised Mr. Gerstell for sluggish Board action on this issue and questioned why no emergency Board meetings had been held. Mr. Gerstell responded that the committees had met and that there had been phone conferences, but no Board meeting.
Summary of Public Witness Testimony
Pierre Wielezynski testified that he and his wife purchased a house in the Takoma section of NW Washington eighteen months ago to raise their daughter Emilie, and believed that the drinking water was safe up until the day they read the story in the Washington Post. "From that day on, we have been going through very traumatic tests for both my pregnant wife and Emilie. Luckily for us, neither of them had lead in their system. However, an independent lab confirmed that our water had twice the maximum legal [lead] level, exposing our family to serious health hazard," said Mr. Wielezynski.
Lorig Charkoudian, Ph.D., is a mother of a 9 month-old child. She said that she received a "voluntary testing kit" from WASA in September 2003, the day after the tests it contained needed to be submitted. Dr. Charkoudian said that she called and asked if she should do the tests and was told she needed to wait until next year. She asked why the test kit was put on her doorstep and only then was told she had lead service lines and may have elevated lead levels in her drinking water. She got the name of a private lab, sent in her tests and learned her water had lead above the action level.
Dr. Charkoudian said that "I spent fifteen hours on the phone and internet trying to get answers regarding what I could do to make the water safe for drinking, washing food and bathing babies. I spoke with three people at WASA, over ten people in [DOH] and several supervisors. No one had answers. I also called the EPA Safe Drinking Water Hotline, the National Lead Information Center, the Agency for Toxic Substances and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Lead Poisoning Prevention Line. Finally, I was told that a filter on my tap was probably my best option, but not perfect, and no one could tell me about whether bathing presented any dangers." When she asked about the lack of notice about the potential problem, Dr. Charkoudian said that she was told by WASA that residents had been informed of the problem two years ago in a bill insert. However, she is new to the District and asked what is done to inform such individuals. She says she was told that there was no plan in place to inform them. "I am amazed and appalled at the amount of time I have spent to get answers which still seem incomplete," said Dr. Charkoudian.
Muriel Wolf, M.D., Senior Pediatrician, Child Health Center at Children's National Hospital Center, stated, "I see many of the children with lead poisoning. In the 1970's, we hospitalized over 100 children a year with markedly elevated levels of lead. Currently, we hospitalize less than five children per year. Because of the awareness of the consequences of lead poisoning, we screen our children at one year of age and again at two years of age so that we can intervene in preventing markedly elevated levels of lead. In the lead clinic now, we see some twenty children per year whose levels of blood lead are over 20 micrograms per deciliter (mg/dl)."
Dr. Wolf continued by saying that "Lead poisoning has serious consequences for our children. Even a level of 10 to 20 mg/dl can cause lowering of the I.Q. There have been studies suggesting that levels between 10 and 20 can lower the intelligence quotient of the general population from 3 to 5 intelligence units. Lead above 20 [mg/dl] can affect the learning ability of children. These children can become easily distracted in their reading. There is an association of elevated lead levels with hyperactivity and attention deficient disorder. Lead poisoning can cause hearing deficits and interfere with growth." Dr. Wolf concluded her testimony by stating, "There is evidence from one recent article not yet confirmed by other investigations that blood leads between the level of 5 and 9 [mg/dl] may lower the I.Q."
In response to the alarming statistics given by Dr. Wolf, Chair Schwartz, along with her colleagues, questioned Dr. Wolf about the severity of the situation:
Joyce Saucier, President of the King's Court Condominium Association, stated that she has been having difficulty with WASA concerning the matter of the composition of service lines and that she too wanted to weigh in on the issue of lead in water. Ms. Saucier stated that it is not a very healthy situation to have lead in water, or to cover it up.
Dr. Millicent Collins, Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Howard University College of Medicine, stated that lead is a heavy metal that occurs naturally in the earth's crust and that it has no known role in the functioning of the human body. She said that if one is exposed to lead, many factors determine whether that person will be harmed. These factors include the dose (how much), the duration (how long) and how one comes in contact with it. One must also consider the other chemicals they are exposed to and one's age, sex, diet, family traits, lifestyle and state of health. Dr. Collins said that when lead enters the body, it travels in the blood to "soft tissue" such as the liver, kidneys, lungs, brain, spleen, muscles, and heart. After several weeks, most of the lead moves into the bones and teeth. In adults, about 94% of the total amount of lead in the body is contained in the bones and teeth. About 73% of lead in children's bodies is stored in their bones.
Dr. Collins testified that some of the lead can stay in bones for decades, however some lead can leave your bones and reenter your blood and organs under certain circumstances such as during pregnancy and periods of breastfeeding, after a bone is broken and during advancing age. She also informed the Committee that if a patient reaches a blood lead level of 45 mg/dl, then an environmental assessment would need to be performed as well as treatment with medication. "I would advise people with lead levels above 15 parts per billion to have a blood lead level test," said Dr. Collins.
Jerome Paulson, M.D., Co-Director of the Mid-Atlantic Center for Children's Health and the Environment and Medical Advisor for the Children's Environmental Health Network, who had testified on the lead issue at the hearing on February 4, 2004, stressed the fact that there are thousands of homes in the District of Columbia that contain lead-based paint. He said that as a result, there are hundreds of children every year in the District who sustain brain damage as a result of exposure to paint. Dr. Paulson then concluded his testimony by stating that, "the District of Columbia needs to work to identify and repair, or have repaired, dwellings that are unsafe for children before the children are harmed."
Summary of WASA Testimony
Glen Gerstell, Chairman of WASA's Board of Directors, reported that WASA had taken the following actions to improve communications:
Mr. Gerstell further stated that WASA will:
The hearing revealed that the projected cost of replacing all lead service lines is $300 million. There are an estimated 23,000 lead service lines. This is an average cost of slightly more than $13,000 per line. WASA recommended that citizens who want to replace their section of a lead service line coordinate with WASA when it replaces the public section of the line. WASA said that it will do this work at cost. If the homeowner chooses to hire its own contractor, however, WASA suggested that he or she seek a contractor who is fully licensed and insured should expect to pay $1,000 to $2,000 for the work.
Chair Schwartz asked Michael Marcotte, WASA Chief Engineer and Deputy General Manager, about the cost of replacing the lead services and what other jurisdictions had done to combat this problem:
Summary of DOH Testimony
Walter Faggett, M.D., Interim Chief Medical Officer at DOH, and Lynette Stokes, Ph.D., Chief of the Bureau of Hazardous and Toxic Substances at DOH, stated that there is a difference of opinion within the medical community on the risks of elevated lead in water for small children and developing fetuses. Dr. Faggett said the general consensus is that extremely large amounts of water would have to be consumed in order for lead in water to have a clinical impact on health. "Lead in water is less of hazard than lead dust and peeling lead paint which small children eat," he said. Dr. Faggett said that EPA estimates that drinking water can make up 20 percent of a person's total exposure to lead. He said that children with lead poisoning may not display symptoms and concerned parents should have their children tested.
Dr. Stokes said that DOH had visited all of the homes that tested at the highest level of lead concentration (values of 500 ppb or greater) to offer blood lead testing to children under the age of six and to pregnant women. She said that homes will be prioritized based on the levels of lead in their water until all homes that have lead concentrations above 300 ppb, or approximately 206 homes, have been visited. Dr. Stokes noted the need for better reporting of lead tests by private physicians to the District's registry.
Summary of February 25, 2004 Public Oversight Hearing
The third public hearing on the lead in water matter was held by Chair Schwartz on February 25, 2004. In her opening statement, Chair Schwartz noted that the first hearing had dealt with lack of consumer notification, lack of adequate notification of the Committee and WASA's explanation and plans for addressing the problem. She said that in the second hearing, the public was given information about how to reduce lead in their water. Chair Schwartz stated that since that hearing, water consumers have received a letter from WASA that contradicted the information given in the second hearing and that in a recent edition of the Washington Post, consumers were being given yet another piece of contradictory advice. "I am trying to plow through all of this information about lead and become as educated about the topic as I can be, so that I can pass on accurate information and feel confident in doing so. But it's hard for me to give the management of WASA the benefit of the doubt under the circumstances," she said.
Summary of EPA Testimony
Donald S. Welsh, Administrator for EPA Region III, began his testimony by stating that "the mid-Atlantic region is responsible for the oversight of the environmental programs in the Commonwealths of Pennsylvania and Virginia, and the states of Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia. While [WASA] took a variety of actions to address the public education requirements in our lead and copper regulations, it is obvious that many who needed to know about potential lead threats did not know. This is clearly unacceptable. The citizens of the District demand and deserve much better. And we will work hard in our oversight capacity with WASA to see that it happens."
Additionally, Mr. Welsh informed the Committee of the steps that the EPA had taken to address the issue of lead in water. "I have assigned additional staff to assist my Water Protection Division with communications and technical support for this effort. I have created a multi-divisional team in the region to work on strategies that will help WASA move forward in a positive way. We are also conducting an in-depth review of WASA's compliance in this matter. On the issue of outreach to residents, EPA Region III is more closely monitoring the activities of WASA and taking its own actions to provide information to the public. We share the view that WASA could have done more to effectively communicate the problem to its customers. When there is an exceedance of the EPA-established action level for lead in water, one of the goals of the federal requirements for public water systems, and the obligation to the public, is that everyone who is potentially exposed to elevated levels of lead is fully aware of that fact and fully understands the steps they need to take to minimize their exposure," said Mr. Welsh.
On the issue of financial assistance from EPA to cover some of the costs of rectifying the problem, Mr. Welsh testified that "first the lead service lines themselves, which are the major sources of high lead levels, need to be replaced. We are providing financial assistance to WASA, in the form of $8 million in FY 2004 grant funds and $3.7 million in prior year funds, to accelerate the replacement of these lines. Secondly, technical issues regarding the corrosivity of the water, which can increase the levels of lead, need to be resolved. Although extensive studies were performed in the last decade to determine optimal corrosion control technology for the District's water system, it is clearly imperative to take a fresh look at the matter in light of the observed changes in lead levels." Mr. Welsh concluded his statement by adding that EPA would not be satisfied until all aspects of the problem are resolved.
Chair Schwartz refuted Mr. Welsh's testimony that the District was getting this money related to the lead-in-water problem, when in fact these were the funds regularly received by the District under the Safe Drinking Water Act. After further questioning by Chair Schwartz, Mr. Welsh concurred that the District had not received any additional funds in this matter.
Chair Schwartz asked Mr. Welsh when he first knew of the problem of lead in District drinking water. Mr. Welsh replied it was in early 2003, approximately a year ago. In response, Chair Schwartz strongly emphasized EPA's lack of aggressive oversight until a January 31, 2004 Washington Post article first revealed the problem to the public and to District government officials. Mr. Welsh said, "EPA missed an opportunity to be much more aggressive with WASA to inform the public. We could have helped by being more aggressive in seeking more assertive ways to communicate. EPA needed to learn which messages are most effective and which messages get through to the public. We could have done a better job in making sure that information was getting through effectively."
Mr. Welsh said that WASA had met the technical requirements and, in fact, went beyond them in its communications. He acknowledged, however, that the communications failed to inform the public. "This is an opportunity for EPA. We need to make the broader judgment -- is this message being delivered in a way that people are getting and understanding? We need to get additional help for our technical staff -- communication staff -- to make sure it is understood."
Councilmember Graham pursued this line of questioning. He noted that none of the materials distributed in 2003 expressed any sense of urgency or concern and did not make clear that the elevated lead levels were a health threat. Mr. Welsh said he had believed that information was being made available by WASA. "It is clear now that the information did not get through. In retrospect we see that it was not effective in getting the message out." Councilmember Graham described EPA's oversight as "casual." "Casual is what I see in this. No sense of alarm," said Councilmember Graham.
Councilmember Fenty asked Mr. Welsh what kinds of sanctions WASA might face. "Does EPA have teeth for all these violations about which the community feels outrage?," he asked, adding that if EPA did not penalize WASA, WASA would "do it again." Mr. Welsh said EPA did have penalties, but added no more.
Chair Schwartz told Mr. Welsh that she and the Mayor had written a letter to Congressman Tom Davis, Chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, asking him to hold hearings on this issue "because we don't have oversight of the EPA." Councilmember Patterson noted that EPA has direct oversight of public water systems only in the District and the state of Wyoming and asked why. Mr. Welsh said that in the other 49 states, the states have the responsibility to do oversight -- to monitor and receive reports and to make sure utilities are following the required steps. He said that because the District has no state government, the oversight role fell to EPA. Mr. Welsh said that EPA receives a budget of $350,000 to carry out that role and that the District could have primacy if "legal issues are sorted out."
Summary of WASA Testimony
Councilmember Fenty questioned whether the testing in schools done by WASA would provide useful information about the water that students drank. Glenn Gerstell, Chairman of the WASA Board of Directors, said that the testing had been designed to see if there was a problem with the water "in the system" from the schools' service line or main piping. He recognized that the primary tests conducted were not designed to sample the water that sat in the water coolers or faucets -- the first flush. He noted that 22 first flush samples had been drawn.
Councilmember Fenty said that he thought the testing done in schools by WASA was faulty because it did not follow EPA guidelines for school testing. Mr. Welsh said that the tests had not been done to meet a regulatory requirement and therefore did not need to follow EPA guidelines. Councilmember Fenty remained concerned about the tests, noting they proved nothing about the quality of water from the faucets which students are most likely to drink, and he asked that all schools be tested using EPA sampling methods. He said that he was disturbed about WASA's management and that "heads should roll."
Regarding possible changes in WASA management, Chair Schwartz said, "I don't thing that having heads roll in the middle of a crisis is responsible." She said it might be an appealing idea, but thought it was important to have the experienced WASA leadership that has been handling the problem continue to solve it.
WASA officials said that people who are uncertain about what kind of service line they have should call the lead hotline. If they have a lead line or if there is uncertainty about what kind of service line they have, they should get their water tested. WASA said that people who live in apartment buildings of 4 or more units or new houses could be confident they do not have lead lines. However, to reduce lead from fixtures, they recommended flushing water from the tap for 30 to 60 seconds.
In response to questions from Councilmember Graham, Jerry Johnson, General Manager of WASA, said that there was no plan to do block-by-block testing. Instead, he said the agency planned to test all known lead lines and ones of uncertain material.
Chair Schwartz asked WASA to work in concert with DOH to go back into the schools to test the facilities where they found higher lead levels and to test all the fountains in those buildings. Along those same lines, WASA's Board of Directors has talked about replacing all the approximately 23,000 known lead service lines in the city. WASA has estimated it could complete the work in five years. Working with its rate consultants and management, the Board determined that changing all the pipes could cost each ratepayer from $6 to $8 per water bill and cost a total of roughly $3 million Councilmember Sharon Ambrose asserted that WASA has a Rate Stabilization Fund, a reserve fund that could be used to help pay for replacement of lead service lines. Mr. Gerstell said that the question of whether the fund should be used was a policy issue that would need to be considered.
Summary of DOH Testimony
Daniel R. Lucey, M.D., M.P.H., Interim Chief Medical Officer at DOH, and Lynette Stokes, Ph.D., testified on behalf of DOH. Dr. Lucey said that out of an abundance of caution, with the concurrence of the Interagency Task Force, DOH recommended in a letter sent to the 23,000 addresses where officials think there is a lead service line that pregnant women and children under six should not drink the tap water or use it to prepare formula or concentrated juice until the water either tested safe or was filtered. He said that DOH was continuing to test people in homes with water lead levels greater than 300 ppb.
Dr. Lucey further testified that his agency had taken several steps to inform the public and test people from high-lead homes, and that DOH increased its capacity to test blood for lead. He said that DOH had been meeting with an expert from the Centers for Disease Control, Dr. Mary Jean Brown. Drs. Lucey and Stokes noted that while seeing high levels of lead in water, they have not seen elevated lead levels in blood tests or in reports from private doctors or clinics. Dr. Stokes said that when she compared the addresses of children known to have blood lead levels above 10 mg/dl between 1998 and 2003 with the approximately 23,000 addresses of homes with known lead service lines, only five residences were identified.
Drs. Lucey and Stokes said that they would continue to compare the lead levels in blood tests with the lead levels in water and, based on that information, may be able to modify the recommendations on water use. They also noted that lead in paint is a particular concern. They said that if any District resident has elevated blood lead levels, an environmental assessment needs to be done to see if lead paint is part of the problem.
Summary of Washington Aqueduct Testimony
Thomas P. Jacobus, General Manager of the Washington Aqueduct, said that an expert team from DOH, EPA and WASA who are international experts in corrosion control had formed to provide assistance in solving the problem of lead in some of the District's drinking water. Corrosiveness of the water is the issue, he said, adding, "We will change the chemistry [of the water] to address the corrosiveness." He said tests would begin in May and that the change would be implemented by late summer 2004.
Summary of March 17, 2004 Public Oversight Hearing
The fourth roundtable on the issue of lead in water began with Chair Schwartz discussing various accomplishments of the Committee. Chair Schwartz commented that within a week of the first hearing, she along with the Mayor announced the establishment of the Interagency Task Force on Lead in Drinking Water. The Task Force, co-chaired by the Mayor and Chair Schwartz, consisted of representatives from relevant local agencies, WASA and the Washington Aqueduct and had begun to meet on a weekly basis. The Task Force also held three-times-a-week press briefings in an effort to keep the public informed on the latest developments.
On March 2, 2004, the Council unanimously passed a resolution granting the Committee on Public Works and the Environment additional resources to secure outside expertise to conduct an expanded investigation. "These resources will aid us in gaining the best possible results as we work to help solve this lead issue and they will also give us the assistance as we focus on WASA's management structure and its public notification processes. The Committee wants to see this problem solved promptly and completely, and we want safeguards put into place so that we never have a repeat of the events that got us to this point," stated Chair Schwartz.
In addition to the Committee's investigation, Chair Schwartz requested that the Office of the Inspector General conduct an audit into WASA's water testing protocols performed in the schools and day care centers and to do independent testing to ensure accuracy. Additionally, she asked the Inspector General to investigate notification issues as well. There had been a huge amount of criticism regarding the testing protocols WASA used to test the public schools. It was Chair Schwartz's opinion that an independent examination would give the Committee and the public much-needed answers. She went on to suggest two protocols to be used at schools and also suggested that maps of the affected areas be put in libraries and community centers.
During a weekly Interagency Task Force meeting, Chair Schwartz suggested the creation of a no-interest or low-interest Revolving Loan Fund to help District residents who decide to replace their lead pipes. She also asked that WASA test the lead level content in pipes found in public housing and area hospitals, as well as the D.C. Jail.
Chair Schwartz informed the public that she and the Mayor sent a letter to President Bush and to Congress requesting reimbursement for costs associated with addressing this problem. In that letter, the Mayor and Chair Schwartz stated that "the apparent cause for the recent rise in lead levels is a change in the treatment chemistry initiated by the United States Army Corps of Engineers' Washington Aqueduct, the provider of the District's water, and approved by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the regulator of the District's water. EPA regulates the District's water because, unlike 49 of the states, the District does not have primacy for regulation in this area, despite multiple requests for such in the past 25 years. Thus, the responsibility and funding for regulation of the District's drinking water is delegated by EPA to its regional office in Philadelphia, rather than to the District." A request for full reimbursement to both the District and to WASA for costs concluded the letter.
Chair Schwartz mentioned a meeting that she had with a community-based coalition group in an effort to bring all voices to the table. From that meeting, an issue emerged regarding increased and consistent testing in areas east of the Anacostia River. Chair Schwartz stated that this had been an issue of concern to both Councilmembers Sandy Allen and Kevin Chavous, as well. As a result of the meeting, Chair Schwartz brought this concern to the table at a recent Task Force meeting, as well as the need for additional blood testing for residents.
Councilmember Allen, who joined the hearing, stated that her constituents informed her that they did not have a clear understanding of what was going on. Councilmember Allen noted in response that Ward 8 has the highest number of children in the city and a high rate of expecting mothers and that, considering these statistics, it is imperative that valuable lead information is transmitted in a timely fashion. "I will say that the first meeting that the Water and Sewer Authority held was in Ward 8 and hopefully this will continue," commented Councilmember Allen. She also remarked that she arranged for DOH to conduct blood lead level screening at Anacostia Clinic as well as for dates to be announced at other clinics. Councilmember Allen concluded her statement by adding that this issue was actually a health hazard and that it is important that we be vigilant.
"The Task Force has also been instrumental in making sure WASA distributes free water filters to residents who need them," said Chair Schwartz. "Although I am not satisfied at this time that all of the people in the city who need water filters have received them, the Mayor and the Task Force have asked WASA to mail filters to those who have not come or are unable to come to the prearranged sites to receive them."
Although WASA had recommended that District residents with lead service lines flush their taps for at least ten minutes before using their water in order to remove any remaining lead -- which appeared to be somewhat effective for the time being -- Chair Schwartz believed that the flushing regime imposed an unfair financial burden on those who were forced to pour large amounts of water down their drains. Therefore, she proposed that residents with lead service lines receive a 20% discount on their monthly water bills in order to offset the increased costs with which they are likely to face by running their water for ten minutes at a time.
Chair Schwartz concluded her statement by pledging that the Committee and the Interagency Task Force would continue to press the concerned agencies until a satisfactory solution to the problem regarding District drinking water was found. In a joint letter from the Mayor and Chair Schwartz, a request was made that Congressman Tom Davis hold a hearing on the lead issue. "I am pleased to say that Congressman Davis also saw the urgency of the situation and held a hearing on March 5, 2004, and will possibly hold more hearings. So, while we are holding the responsible agencies accountable, we are doing all we can right now to find solutions to the problem. As I said earlier, progress has been made, but we still have much work ahead," stated Chair Schwartz.
Councilmember Adrian Fenty thanked Chair Schwartz for her leadership on the lead issue. The Councilmember recalled that earlier in the week he called for an investigation into potential criminal activity by WASA regarding the lead issue. "I have never in all of my three years on the Council received so many e-mails by people who are so frustrated," Councilmember Fenty said. "People in a community meeting last night with 4H Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Jim Jones conveyed to me that it doesn't matter what WASA says, the people are just not listening anymore due to the repeated failures to the residents of the District of Columbia by WASA."
Councilmember Fenty continued, "Since the last hearing we have learned two very important things. First, that ten years ago, WASA, the Washington Aqueduct and the EPA and others knew that there was a solution to this problem, that by introducing phosphates into the water would significantly reduce people's exposure to lead. Why didn't this happen? Who were the people that made this decision? These are some of the questions that I will ask for this hearing today.
Councilmember Ambrose declared that she was interested in making sure that there was some clarity for citizens. She applauded the fact that water pitchers are being mailed to the 23,000 District residents with lead service lines. Also, Councilmember Ambrose praised the investigatory work of Washington Post reporters on the issue. She summarized by stating that during this hearing she wanted to learn three major things: what direction do we go in now, how much will it cost and who will pay for it?
Councilmember Graham said that he had two major concerns for this hearing: a thoughtful explanation of what goes into remedying the District's lead pipe problems, and whether or not there is any value to tearing up the city for the replacement of lead lines.
Overview of Public Witness Testimony
Marc Edwards, Professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, presented a slide-show exhibit about the corrosive effects of District water. Mr. Edwards thanked Chair Schwartz for her "efforts to force a rational solution to the problem of excessive lead in drinking water of WASA consumers." He expressed his ongoing frustration with the poor response that he had received from WASA and EPA when he shared with them the results of his years of study on the subject of lead in water. He briefed the Committee on his work as a professor at the Virginia Tech Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and shared a number of his slides to the Committee to support the results of his studies.
Mr. Edwards indicated that he had been warning EPA and the water industry that changes in drinking water treatment practice can have serious consequences on home plumbing systems. He indicated that pinhole leaks and chloramines attack on leaded brass can occur when chemical changes are made to the water treatment process. He said that simple answers that chemical treatment changes have on water pipes are difficult to determine since his plea for research funding to study these problems have not been supported by EPA. He closed by stating that the engineers and scientists at WASA and EPA must be allowed to use every source of information when making their decisions and asked that they be given permission to speak directly to the Civil and Environmental Engineering team at Virginia Tech.
Bill Stapp, President, A.S. Inc., along with Jerry Weslynn, testified that stopping corrosivity in the water is extremely complex, stating that not only must the inhibitor stop the lead but it must be conducive to the human body as well. Mr. Stapp has a patent on stannous chloride and has treated the city of St. Paul, Minnesota for three years successfully. St. Paul was also out of compliance at that time and had to replace the lead service lines, however the stannous chloride reduced corrosivity within two months.
Clifford T. "Kip" Howlett, Executive Director, Chlorine Chemistry Council and Vice President, American Chemistry Council, testified that "chlorine was essential to delivering safe water. Drinking water chlorination has helped to virtually eliminate many diseases in the United States. Meeting the goal of clean, safe drinking water requires a multi-step approach. Disinfection, unquestionably the most important step in water treatment, is carried out in two stages, primary and secondary disinfections. Primary disinfection removes harmful microorganisms at the treatment plant. Although a number of alternatives are available, chlorination is by far the most common method."
Andrew Fellows, Clean Water Action, noted on behalf of the Lead Coalition that this is a national and District issue. "It is going to be extremely costly to fix the problem that the federal government created. The federal government made the decision in the 1890's to lay lead pipe to distribute water, the federal government made the decision to treat the water with chloramines, delivering a corrosive agent that likely caused leaching of lead into District residents drinking water. The federal government bears much of the responsibility for today's emergency crisis. Congress must pass a supplemental appropriation of $300 million as a down payment for full lead service line replacement and modernization of water treatment," said Mr. Fellows.
Linda Fennell, Environmental Justice, Sierra Club, offered several suggestions by which at-risk and underserved communities could 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 were the recommended corrective actions. As a remedy, Ms. Fennell suggested that the Department of Human Services and the Council provide extra funds to the Electronic Benefits Transfer allotments to purchase bottled water. Secondly, locations for blood screenings that are east of the River should be established so that our residents may be adequately served. Information also must be immediately, and correctly disseminated within the community.
Felicia Eaves, Alliance for Healthy Homes/ National Black Environmental Justice Network, testified that the Alliance seeks to protect children from lead and other environmental hazards around their homes by advocating for policy solutions and building capacity for primacy prevention in communities throughout the United States. Ms. Eaves insisted that the meetings of the Interagency Task Force should be open to the public.
Christopher Hawthorne, President, AFGE Local 872, and Commissioner, ANC 8E03, testified that he was disgusted at the answers given to the public by the Mayor and WASA officials. Mr. Hawthorne went on to point out several inconsistencies with respect to the idea that copper lines were safe from corrosivity, while some lead tests results concluded otherwise.
Testimony of Washington Aqueduct
Thomas P. Jacobus, General Manager of the Aqueduct, testified that Dr. Vernon L. Snoeyink, Professor of Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois and Director of the Water CAMPSW, a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center involving the University of Illinois, Stanford University, and Clark Atlanta University, had been retained as a consultant on the lead issue, and requested that Dr. Snoeyink speak on behalf of the Water and Sewer Authority. Dr. Snoeyink testified that the Production Treatment Team led by the Aqueduct, will carry out the desktop studies that will lead to a recommended treatment approach as well as pipe loop studies to verify that approach and implement a partial and then a full treatment process to reduce the corrosivity of the water. A review of engineering reports and recent water quality changes in customers' distribution systems would also be conducted, he said.
Testimony of EPA
Rick Rogers, Chief, Drinking Water Branch, EPA Region III, testified as to the steps that are being taken to reduce the lead in the homes of residents in the District of Columbia. Mr. Rogers informed the Committee that the Technical Expert Working Group was taking many steps to reach a long-term solution to the corrosion of lead from water pipes and fixtures in the District. The Working Group was making every attempt to determine the cause or causes of the elevated tap water lead levels, he said. The Working Group was formed to facilitate and expedite on-going research conducted by both WASA and the Washington Aqueduct. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III (EPA), WASA, the Aqueduct, and the D.C. Department of Health (DOH) recognized that an overarching planning and coordination effort was needed to help ensure that all the necessary research was conducted, to ensure no redundant efforts took place and to move the work along as quickly as possible.
Mr. Rogers said that the research strategy is designed to reach a treatment decision that will reduce the corrosivity of the water through a three-part plan. The three parts are: (1) conducting a desktop analysis of all potential treatment options and make a recommendation for a revised corrosion control treatment process to the Technical Expert Working Group and begin partial and full system deployment of the revised treatment; (2) conducting bench scale and pipe loops studies that verify chemical dosage for the treatment options available and for the option selected during the desktop analysis and use the data from some of this work to help determine the cause of the current corrosiveness of the water; and (3) communicating the strategy, the progress, the expected interim water quality effects and final outcomes to the public, the press, and government and community leaders.
Chair Schwartz asked if it was possible to do all of this before the end of the calendar year. She said, "I mean I could give birth in this time -- could you not give birth to some good water?" Mr. Rogers replied that EPA was trying to implement the partial treatment in June and the full implementation in September and said, "We might not see results until December. But I believe this effort is being compressed as much as possible, and we will come up with valid results as soon as possible."
Chair Schwartz asked Dr. Snoeyink under sworn testimony if it was not possible to move the timeframe up so that the citizens of the District of Columbia could be assured of adequate drinking water sooner rather than later, to which he replied, "I have been involved in a number of studies, such as in Chicago and Winnipeg, and this is moving faster than any of those have moved." He also said that they do not have a good understanding of the chemical mechanisms that lead to this particular effect and that they would have to look at the 1994 report and its data to see if there was any information hidden in there. Chair Schwartz then asked Dr. Snoeyink, "If you had lived in the city and you had your child, or grandchild in a home that had lead service pipes, could you not move this along a little quicker?" He responded, "The issue is that it takes time to go over these reports. If I had a grandchild taking water from the system, I would use a filter. But it terms of time, I don't see it happening it any faster."
Jerry Johnson, WASA General Manager, testified that WASA continues to meet regularly with the Interagency Task Force chaired by Mayor Williams and Chair Schwartz. Mr. Johnson testified that the District of Columbia Inspector General, the Comptroller General of the United States, the U.S. House of Representatives Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environmental and Hazardous Materials, and the WASA Board of Directors are all undertaking separate reviews of this situation. "The Task Force is making great progress, in part because it involves the District's leadership that is most knowledgeable about [WASA's] work and the current challenge and it brings together all of the District resources necessary to weigh in on it in a meaningful way," stated Mr. Johnson.
Also, Mr. Johnson discussed the negative bond rating that WASA received from one financial bond rating service as a result of the lead crisis in the District. Mr. Johnson assured the Council that despite this single negative bond rating, other institutions had not lowered their rating, and said he believed that it was not an issue of grave concern.
Testimony of DOH
Theodore J. Gordon, Senior Deputy Director for Environmental Health, Science and Regulation, DOH, offered testimony regarding a report that he personally was made aware concerning high instances of lead in water via e-mail by EPA representative Chris Ball before January 2004. Mr. Gordon denied receiving the e-mail in his office and requested that the District's Chief Technology Officer search the Department of Health server for the specific e-mail.
Mr. Gordon further testified that Jerry Johnson called him in 2002 and asked that WASA and DOH work in collaboration to create lead-risk brochures to educate District residents about the adverse health effects of lead. The brochure was released in October 2002. It was then explained that DOH knew of the 23,000 lead pipes and that there was a small chance of an exceedance of the national limit. "An e-mail from EPA is out of context, because I deal with EPA everyday. I have 4,700 EPA grants that I oversee, and during the anthrax issue and other concerns I was in daily communication with officials from EPA, and lead was never mentioned," stated Mr. Gordon. It was also explained that Vicki Binetti, Associate Director of the Water Protection Division, EPA Region III, sent a letter to Mr. Gordon on June 11, 2003, which he received on July 9, 2003. In the letter, Ms. Binetti declared that there were no drinking water violations for calendar year 2003 and that there had been no violations since August 1996. Mr. Gordon concluded his testimony by adding that if he had known earlier of the problems with the lead in water he would have dealt with it accordingly, that he has worked for the District government for 31 years and that he would never jeopardize the health and safety of the citizens.
Chair Schwartz then questioned Mr. Gordon:
The Interim Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Daniel Lucey, M.D., offered testimony regarding health-related activities in connection with the lead issue in the District of Columbia. Dr. Lucey summarized those activities as follows:
Among various questions, Chair Schwartz also asked what steps had
been taken to reach those persons who were not media conscious, and
who have lead pipes and children under six. In response, Dr. Lucey
stated, "Currently DOH offers two things at the clinical sites
that are closer to those who have lead service lines, as I mentioned
earlier, and we have developed a system to telephone homes of those
with the highest lead in water, to offer to come to their homes for
free blood lead level testing. We have been given consent to test 83
of those homes and of those 83, five of which have children, but of
that number none with elevated blood lead levels."
Summary of April 1, 2004 Public Oversight Hearing
Chair Schwartz began the fifth hearing on the lead in the water issue by stating that she thought it was outrageous that WASA would be attempting a 5% rate increase at this time. "This city is now dealing with the problem of lead in some of the residents' drinking water precisely because of WASA's inaction, its insensitivity and its lack of urgency in responding," said Chair Schwartz. "Now they have the audacity to consider increasing rates on District customers, many of whom have been forced to obtain water filters, run their faucets for ten minutes at a time and play a cat-and-mouse game with WASA regarding determining whether or not a particular residence has a lead service line! Unbelievable! Both I and Robert Bobb, the City Administrator, had specifically told WASA weeks ago not to do this. Instead, WASA, which raised rates by 2.5 percent only six months ago, has arrogantly gone ahead and proceeded to consider a rate increase. Based on what? WASA's stellar performance?"
Chair Schwartz went on to say that she believed that WASA officials were exercising extraordinarily poor judgment and called upon WASA to cancel any future meetings regarding proposed rate increases on the residents of the District at this time. "In WASA's August 2003 newsletter What's On Tap, they state that 'WASA is pleased to report that … a proposed 5.0 percent [rate] increase for October 2004 was dropped altogether. At its monthly meeting on July 3, the Board [of Directors'] Retail Rates Committee, which is made up solely of District residents, recommended that the Board lower the proposed rate increase for this October and not approve an increase for October 2004.' So I would strongly suggest that you live up to your written word," stated Chair Schwartz.
Chair Schwartz continued her statement by adding that the Committee had heard more than 30 hours of public testimony from Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) officials, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Washington Aqueduct and the Department of Health. Further, public health experts such as Dr. Jerome Paulson were brought in to shed light on the effects of ingesting lead into the human body. Chair Schwartz said that Committee members and the public listened as District parents and expectant parents expressed outrage at WASA's lackadaisical approach to informing residents about the lead levels in some of our residents' drinking water. It was concerns about WASA's neglectfulness, she said, that led her to establish the Interagency Task Force on Lead in Water, which was formed within a week of the Committee's first emergency hearing in February. The Task Force, co-chaired by Chair Schwartz and the Mayor, worked to ensure that prompt action was taken by the relevant agencies in District government.
The Task Force had been meeting once a week to share information, and to discuss lessons learned and to work cooperatively to solve the problem. One action taken after one of their first meetings was the issuing of a public health advisory cautioning pregnant women, nursing mothers and parents with children under the age of six to not drink unfiltered water from suspected lead service lines. "Thankfully," said Chair Schwartz, "preliminary results of testing thus far has not linked lead in the water to significant or widespread health problems, but we must still be vigilant in getting folks tested and getting the lead out of the water."
In conclusion, Chair Schwartz said, "We are continuing to keep the public abreast of the latest developments on this issue, while keeping the responsible agencies' feet to the fire, in an effort to bring about a swift and lasting resolution. The Committee remains dedicated to the goal of uncovering every key detail in this matter. There are articles being written and accusations being lodged against city officials that illustrate the need for continued hearings on who knew what and when regarding the lead issue, so that everybody can hear on the record from others who are involved in the issue, and so that everyone has an opportunity to speak if they so desire."
Jerry Johnson, WASA General Manager, testified that the WASA Board of Directors had held a hearing today to consider two proposals: (1) expanding its Customer Assistance Program for low-income qualifying homeowners, and (2) considering an overall 5 percent increase in water and sewer rates in the District. Mr. Johnson further testified that as of the March 17, 2004 hearing, WASA had undertaken the following activities:
In addition, the FY 2004 WASA budget reviewed by the Committee and approved by Congress included $10 million for the lead services program. Mr. Johnson said that, excluding associated miscellaneous costs related to investigations and litigation (projected at about $1.35 million), WASA was incurring additional unanticipated costs of approximately $420 million, including: $1.5 million in expenses for the DOH blood level testing program and associated activities to improve their data processing systems; $1.7 million for WASA, DOH and other joint outreach/communications initiatives; $80 million for the expanded physical public space replacement program; $7.1 million for the expanding sampling and filter distribution program; and $1.5 million for expanded Lead Services Hotline command center operations.
Tom Voltaggio, Deputy Administrator, EPA Region III, began his testimony by thanking Chair Schwartz for the opportunity to appear before the Committee to discuss the activities that have been undertaken in addressing the issue of lead in the water of District of Columbia residents. Mr. Voltaggio discussed the following issues:
Chair Schwartz began her questioning of EPA by stating that she did not hold the federal agency harmless for the lead in water crisis the District is currently experiencing. Mr. Voltaggio responded that EPA's oversight was not as strong as it could have been. Chair Schwartz then asked, "what is EPA doing to help us retrieve our costs?" Mr. Voltaggio replied that EPA is a regulator and could not act in a budgetary capacity. Chair Schwartz stated that she felt as the District's overseers, EPA knows that WASA is not a profit making entity and that the ratepayers would bare the brunt of the proposed penalties that WASA would have to pay. "There has been no decision to financially penalize WASA," said Mr. Voltaggio.
When asked about the decision to place orthophosphates in the water, Rick Rogers, an EPA Region III official, testified that it could not be anticipated that changing the water chemistry would cause a corrosion problem. Chair Schwartz said that District residents have paid a hard price for this crisis, and hopefully other jurisdictions could learn from the District's situation.
Chair Schwartz asked about an e-mail that was allegedly sent from the EPA to officials within the Department of Health regarding a request to assist WASA with an urgent matter concerning lead in the water and its health impacts. She further commented that these public hearings are also a means for agencies to respond to accusations made in the media. Dr. Lynette Stokes testified that she did in fact receive an e-mail through her administrative assistant from Robert Vowels requesting that DOH create materials for a pamphlet on lead and its health impact. Dr. Daniel Lucey, Interim Chief Medical Officer, gave the Committee an update on the activities of the Department of Health which were as follows:
Ted Gordon, Senior Deputy Director of Environmental Health, offered testimony that he was away at Harvard University when Jerry Johnson called him and said that WASA needed help with a brochure they had to create because they had exceeded the EPA requirement. "I immediately called Robert Vowels who was acting in my place, and requested that he send out the e-mail," stated Mr. Gordon.
Chair Schwartz asked if there was anything in the e-mail that raised concern about lead in the water? Mr. Gordon replied that DOH was told only that the action level had been exceeded. According to WASA, of the 50 samples taken from the 20,000 lead lines in the city, 23 tested beyond 75 parts per billion.
Chair Schwartz then read the e-mail at issue into the public record, and stated that the language used by WASA of exceeding the lead action level would have triggered some kind of alarm. Mr. Gordon responded that for the past 20 years flushing was a suitable technique used to remove lead contaminants from the water. "After reviewing the data, DOH officials felt comfortable with this advice because we had a very small sample size," submitted Mr. Gordon. Chair Schwartz also mentioned that an e-mail search performed by the District's Chief Technology Officer Suzanne Peck revealed that there was no record of a second e-mail sent from Chris Ball of the EPA to Mr. Gordon giving notice of the impending lead in water crisis.
Councilmember Graham questioned DOH as to why funds from a grant to reduce lead in paint had not been used to rid the District of lead in water. Dr. Stokes indicated that the money that was given was only for projects that would abate lead in soil and in the walls, but that DOH and other entities were looking into additional ways to receive funding for the lead in the water issue.
Testimony of Washington Aqueduct
Mr. Thomas P. Jacobus, General Manager of the Aqueduct, did not have prepared testimony for this hearing. Chair Schwartz commented that EPA had previously testified that the Technical Expert Working Group was on schedule in terms of investigating ways to change the chemicals in the water. Chair Schwartz did ask whether or not the expert group had been able to isolate the element in the water causing the corrosivity of the pipes. Mr. Jacobus responded that a central element has not been revealed, but that in running the pipe loop study, it will be understood as the science unfolds. "Currently we are planning to add an orthophosphate and the exact dosage is under review, and that will be accomplished by lowering the PH in the water to about 7.7 and holding it steady. We will then add the corrosion inhibitor," he said.
Chair Schwartz then asked whether or not a budget had been set for use in conducting the research. "Yes, we have taken a look at what the study has cost us so far and we have taken a look at the cost of implementation of the full system. We are doing this in a way where the materials may be introduced quickly," replied Mr. Jacobus. He said the projected cost would be $3.5 million and added that the full implementation of the new treatment chemical was scheduled for September 1:
Chair Schwartz asked about the annual flushing of the pipes. Mr. Jacobus explained that there is some debris in the pipe, and that it is healthy and helpful to open the pipes at night and flush it out. He said that flushing is always in the early spring and that they want the system to be clean for full-system implementation in September.
Chair Schwartz concluded her questions of the Aqueduct by asking if the annual flushing would affect lead testing. "I don't think so, because we are tricking the bacteria, but you can get a more effective flush if you switch the chemical used. We will be using free chlorine for five weeks," responded Mr. Jacobus.
Councilmember Jim Graham questioned Mr. Jacobus on his ultimate confidence that this problem could be corrected by a chemical change. "As WASA, the Mayor and members of this Council are pressured by requests for lead service line replacements, let me ask you if you think this problem can be corrected chemically," Councilmember Graham said. Mr. Jacobus expressed his strong belief that changing the water chemistry would result in a large reduction of lead in the water. Additionally, Councilmember Graham asked what Mr. Jacobus thought of the lead service line replacement program, and if the effort should be undertaken at all. Mr. Jacobus said that he would defer to the appropriate officials and that ultimately the decision was best left up to management. Subsequently Councilmember Graham asked, "If you have this strong belief that the problem will be corrected by changing the chemical, why haven't you said so before now? The problem we are faced with now is rebuilding the public trust." Mr. Jacobus agreed and offered to work with the Council to rebuild the public trust.
Summary of April 19, 2004 Public Oversight Hearing
The sixth public oversight hearing on the issue of lead in water was convened by Councilmember Carol Schwartz, Chair of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, on April 19, 2004. Chair Schwartz said that she had repeatedly asked about the quality of the District's water at oversight hearings over the past few years and was assured each time that the quality of the water was good. Chair Schwartz said that Jerry Johnson, WASA General Manager, stated in the performance oversight hearings for the FY 2000-2001 budgets that "since September 1996, or for the past 52 consecutive months, WASA continues to surpass the standard under the Safe Drinking Water Act (SWDA)," that the "quality of water has improved over the past 4 years" and that "it tastes better too."
During one of those hearings, WASA said it had completed its 56th consecutive month complying with the SWDA, and in April 2003, WASA provided information to the Committee that it had completed its 77th consecutive month of compliance with the SWDA. Chair Schwartz said at the April 19, 2004 hearing that it was clear that fully accurate answers were not always given by WASA. She said that the Committee will continue its investigation into this matter until thorough results have been achieved.
Chair Schwartz mentioned the Task Force on Lead in Drinking Water that was formed by her and the Mayor and that the fact that its interim report was issued on April 9, 2004, on schedule, shows what can be done if people roll up their sleeves and do what needs to be done. She said that, although the plan had been to extend the Task Force's duration for an additional three months, it was decided that the mission of the Task Force had been achieved and that it will dissolve with the issuance of its final report on April 22, 2004 (See Appendix E). Chair Schwartz expressed confidence that the Mayor, the Council and the various District agencies will continue to work together to address the lead in water issue.
Summary of Public Witness Testimony
Tyrone Duggins, citizen of the District, testified that public health and human services are the most critical agencies in local government. He said that WASA must identify a digital business design that allows the population to become self-organizing so that they can do work themselves. He said that WASA doesn't need to do everything but does need to use everything at its disposal. Mr. Duggins said that facilities need to be introduced to the next generation of home treatment technology, and that the profit mandate must be replaced with a superior service mandate. He said that WASA must recognize it's in the business of information management.
Summary of Executive Testimony
Edward Reiskin, Chief of Staff to the City Administrator, testified on behalf of City Administrator Robert Bobb, who was unable to be present at the hearing. Mr. Reiskin said that he was present to provide an update on the lead in water Task Force. He said that Chair Schwartz and the Mayor formed the Task Force in early February 2004 in order to achieve three functions: (1) To find answers to questions of concern to the public and the government regarding the issue of lead in some District residents' drinking water; (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. He referred to the various members of the Task Force and said that they had met regularly and continued to provide guidance. Mr. Reiskin stated that the Task Force continues to hold press regular press briefings to coordinate and disseminate information. He said that it serves as a primary liaison to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and that it has engaged EPA fully in many of the decisionmaking processes regarding the lead in water issue. Mr. Reiskin mentioned that the Task Force had produced an interim report on it activities and he thanked Chair Schwartz for her efforts and for her work with the Mayor.
Summary of DOH Testimony
Lynette Stokes, Ph.D., Chief of the Bureau of Hazardous and Toxic Substances, DOH, testified that 4,813 individuals had been screened for blood lead levels and that 1,738 persons in the target population of child under the age of six, nursing mothers and pregnant women had been screened. She said that of the children in the target population, 29 had blood lead levels of 10 mg/dl or above, the level of concern, with one child testing at 68 mg/dl who went through chelation treatment at a hospital. Two nursing mothers had elevated blood lead levels, although one was found on retesting not to have an elevated level. She said that no pregnant women had been found to have elevated blood lead levels so far. Dr. Stokes stated that DOH found that when they identified a child with an elevated blood lead level, "without a doubt" lead and dust in the home exceeded Housing and Urban Development and EPA guidelines after an environmental assessment was done. She said that 24 environmental assessments had been conducted to date, with 29 more scheduled. She also said that Dr. Daniel Lucey, DOH's Interim Chief Medical Officer, thinks that all homes with an undetermined composition of water service line should have a water filter sent to them, something that Chair Schwartz had recommended previously.
Summary of District Department of Transportation Testimony
John Deatrick, Chief Engineer for the District Department of Transportation (DDOT), testified that WASA is doing a good job of coordinating with DDOT regarding the lead service line replacement program. Chair Schwartz mentioned that, as a member of the lead in water Task Force, she thought it was important to have DDOT participate in this effort. Mr. Deatrick said that DDOT had worked out a system with WASA so that WASA can get in and do the work even if DDOT does not plan to repave a street for 2 to 5 years. He said the street restoration will hold up until DDOT gets to it. In response to a question from Chair Schwartz, Mr. Deatrick stated that DDOT would be willing to change the priority of street work to accommodate the need to replace lead service lines. He said there would be a cost savings if WASA can do replacement work before a street is to be repaved, rather than after. Regarding the safety of WASA workers in replacing lead service lines, Mr. Deatrick stated that the U.S. Occupation Safety and Hazard Administration has standards regarding shoring requirements and the depth of excavation at replacement sites.
Summary of EPA Testimony
Jon M. Capacasa, Director of the Water Protection Division of EPA's Region III, and Rick Rogers, Chief of EPA Region III's Drinking Water Branch, testified on behalf of EPA. Mr. Capacasa updated the Committee on the activities that are being undertaken by EPA to address the lead in water issue. He said that the Technical Expert Working Group (TEWG) completed its Desktop Options Analysis on April 1, which was an analysis involving research of similar water treatment circumstances around the country and what the available literature says about appropriate methods to control lead corrosion in similar water quality circumstances to the District. The TEWG also reported a recommendation to EPA for the selection of a revised treatment process to optimize corrosion control. It recommends conducting a partial system test using zinc orthophosphate treatment at WASA's Fort Reno Pumping Station and thereafter moves to a full-system application of zinc orthophosphate by feeding this at the Dalecarlia and McMillan water treatment plants operated by the Washington Aqueduct. The TEWG expects that the partial system test will begin on June 1 and that the full system implementation will begin on July 15.
Mr. Capacasa also said that EPA formed an Independent Peer Review Panel over a month ago to help ensure that the changes being made are informed with the best available science, that independent analysis is applied to the decision and that all available options to solve this problem quickly are considered. He aid that EPA is working with the other member agencies of the TEWG to provide opportunities for public information and input to the treatment change decisions.
Mr. Capacasa stated that EPA sent two letters to WASA on March 31, 2004 regarding its ongoing compliance audit of WASA and the lead program. The first letter is a "show cause" letter which identifies six areas where EPA believes that violations have occurred and allows WASA to provide relevant information for EPA's consideration prior to EPA commencing a more formal enforcement action. The second letter is an information request letter to determine whether there have been other past violations. Responses to both letters are required within 21 days of receipt.
Mr. Capacasa said that EPA has been working with the City Administrator and WASA on their Interim Action Plan to address the elevated lead levels in District drinking water. He said that the Interim Action Plan has provided for water filter distribution to more than 23,000 residences with lead service lines and has resulted in the resampling of public schools in the District using EPA protocols and completed on April 2, 2004 (with results pending the week of April 26, 2004), EPA approval for apartment building sampling plans and completion of a Lead Service Line Prioritization Plan based upon public health factors. He said that EPA responded on April 14, 2004 to WASA's April 7, 2004 submission for two plans previously requested. Mr. Capacasa said that EPA sought additional information before approval of the City-Wide Sampling Plan for non-service line residences and other buildings to ensure it was representative of major quadrants and building types, and that the due date for response is April 22.
Chair Schwartz asked Mr. Capacasa and Mr. Rogers some questions about the Technical Expert Working Group that was formed as a result of the lead in water matter in the District:
Summary of WASA Testimony
Michael Marcotte, Chief Engineer and Deputy General Manager of WASA, testified that, on April 15, 2004, WASA announced its plan for selecting the priority lead service replacements it will undertake in public space this year. He said that earlier this year, WASA indicated that it would reallocate $7 million from other projects for an additional 500 service line replacements for homes with the vulnerable populations. He said that WASA recently announced that these replacements would be based on a prioritized list developed in conjunction with DOH and EPA. Under the plan, approximately 100 home daycare centers with lead service lines will have these lines replaced, approximately 100 homes that have children with elevated blood lead levels and that have a lead service line or a service line of undetermined material will have their lines replaced and approximately 300 homes with high lead water levels that are occupied by members of the target population will have their service lines replaced.
Mr. Marcotte said that WASA's is committed to making a strong effort to deliver filters to all addresses identified as having a lead service line before April 10, 2004. He also stated that WASA's current policy is to also provide a water filter and replacement cartridge to residences for which WASA has no record of service line material, but that also participate in the testing program and whose results show a lead concentration in excess of the EPA action level. He said that WASA had distributed approximately 27,000 filters by the first week of April.
Mr. Marcotte said that WASA continues to provide free water test kits, focusing on properties that have a lead service line or lines for which WASA has no record of material composition. Mr. Marcotte said that WASA had analyzed 9,421 samples through April 16, 2004, and that 2,961 of those samples were from what WASA believed to be lead service lines. About 51% of these samples tested below the action level and 6% tested above 100 parts per billion (ppb). Mr. Marcotte said that of the 2,102 samples from residences with a service line for which WASA had no record of composition, 72% tested below the action level and 3% tested above 100 ppb. Mr. Marcotte also said that out of the over 24,500 test kits sent out since the beginning of the year, between 8,000 and 10,000 have still not be returned.
Mr. Marcotte said that WASA's Lead Service Hotline remains fully staffed, and that as of April 15, 2004, the Hotline had received and responded to 6,391 e-mail inquiries and 2,028 voice mail messages. He also said that, in cooperation with the D.C. Public Schools, WASA has conducted an extensive program for additional water sampling within schools, utilizing protocols approved by EPA and DOH. WASA anticipates receiving results from these tests in the next two weeks.
Mr. Marcotte said that WASA is in the process of mailing letters directly to each of the residences identified as likely having a lead service line, as well as the 21,000 residences for which WASA has no record of pipe material. The letters include information about the plan to change 500 lead service lines this year based on the priority process developed with DOH and EPA. He said that the WASA Board of Directors is seeking public comment on a proposal to replace all known lead service lines in public space by 2010.
Summary of Washington Aqueduct Testimony
Thomas P. Jacobus, General Manager of the Washington Aqueduct, did not have prepared testimony but did answer questions from Chair Schwartz. Chair Schwartz mentioned EPA's desire to use zinc orthophosphate in the District's water supply and wanted to know if the Washington Aqueduct agreed with this decision. Mr. Jacobus said that it was the Aqueduct's decision in the Technical Expert Working Group (TEWG) to go with a phosphate-based inhibitor such as phosphoric acid but that the peer review group came back with EPA's recommendation to use zinc orthophosphate. He said that they were looking for the best answer to the problem and, while it may not be necessary to go to zinc orthophosphate, he won't let cost considerations stand in the way of a successful solution. He said that the Aqueduct acceded to the recommendation of the peer group and that he had no problem doing so.
Chair Schwartz said that that she heard in an earlier hearing on this issue that zinc orthophosphate was recommended previously as a corrosion inhibitor but that it was passed on because of cost, and she asked Mr. Jacobus whether this was true. He said that cost was a factor, along with environmental effects, and that the Aqueduct chose to go with pH control at that time, in 1994, instead of corrosion control. He said that the question from an engineering view is what was the better choice and that cost is always an issue because it will be passed along to customers. He said that the choice was made before WASA came into existence. Chair Schwartz asked whether when the peer panel recommended zinc orthophosphate, there was consensus. Mr. Jacobus answered that there was unanimity and consensus in the process and that the TEWG made the decision freely.
Summary of May 5, 2004 Public Oversight Hearing
Chair Schwartz began the seventh hearing of the Committee by saying that the Committee has been diligently working to help resolve the issue of excess lead in some residents' water. Chair Schwartz proceeded to give a brief summary of the Committee's activities to date. She also announced that on April 20th, the Council unanimously approved the "Residential Water Lead Level Test Emergency Act of 2004." The legislation, which was introduced by Chair Schwartz and Councilmember Ambrose, was passed on an emergency and temporary basis. The new law would authorize the Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs to require the owner of a multi-family dwelling such as an apartment building, a condominium building or a cooperative building, upon written request by a rental tenant or owner-occupant of that building, to order a lead level test of the tap water in the building within 10 calendar days of receiving the written request.
The law also requires the owner to provide a written copy of the water test results to the individual who requested the test and to any rental tenant or owner-occupant of the building who requests a copy, and to conspicuously post the results. Further, a penalty of $100 a day for each day of noncompliance would also be established.
Chair Schwartz then recalled the events of February 25, 2004, during an earlier Committee hearing on the lead in water issue, where she said Glen Gerstell, Chairman of WASA's Board of Directors, testified, "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 the 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." Chair Schwartz said that Mr. Gerstell further stated that, "We are 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."
After Mr. Gerstell's statement, Chair Schwartz said she had concerns about the sampling protocols used in that first round of testing in schools and had encouraged WASA to retest water fountains and faucets in school buildings. "Last week, those test results revealed that 43 fixtures in 29 D.C. Schools provided water samples above the EPA lead-level action limit of 15 parts per billion. Those fixtures were shut down until remediation could take place, and free blood/lead-level testing was offered to students at those schools," reported Chair Schwartz.
Additionally, at a Committee hearing on April 1, 2004, representatives from the EPA stated that the federally mandated action level of 15 parts per billion was not based on health concerns, but on other factors. This admission surprised not only the Committee, but District health officials as well. Along those same lines, the Committee was pleased when Senator Jeffords, the ranking member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, introduced in Congress the "Lead-Free Drinking Water Act of 2004." Co-introducing the legislation was Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton. The legislation has five major requirements:
Chair Schwartz noted that both she and the Mayor wanted Congressional and Presidential involvement, and said she was pleased that hearings were held in both the House and the Senate.
In summary, Chair Schwartz outlined the anticipated testimony for the hearing, which would be presented by officials from WASA, the United States Environmental Protection Agency, the Washington Aqueduct, and the District Department of Health. The DC Public Schools and the Board of Education also agreed to offer testimony on testing in the schools and what actions were taking place relating to that testing.
Summary of Public Witness Testimony
Michael George, Utilities Analyst at Georgetown University, asked to read a letter from Xavier I. Rivera, Acting Director of Utilities at Georgetown University. Mr. Rivera's letter stated, "As a utilities department director my job is to provide Georgetown University interruption-free utilities. Throughout my career, I have worked with several water authorities and I must say that with WASA we have one of the best customer oriented utilities in the country. Charles Kieley, Raymond Haynesworth, and their team at WASA have provided excellent service with a personal responsive approach."
He continued, "I first met Mr. Kieley when WASA started the new metering program. As with all new programs, we had a lot of questions and concerns since we serve critical areas of the campus that include a hospital and research facilities. They kept their word in providing us a fast turn around in meter change-outs and have worked with us in the transition of the new billing system. Their professional approach in explaining the project and follow through with their customer service team have been critical in this project. In addition, with the most recent lead water concerns, they have stepped up to the plate and have given us information and tools that we needed to deal with this crisis. "In a time where others are critical of WASA, I must stand by the team that has provided Georgetown University interruption-free water service and excellent customer service."
Richard Kemp, Mid-Atlantic Regional Manager of ISCO Industries, presented testimony on behalf of the Plastics Pipe Institute, Inc. Mr. Kemp said that polyethylene pipe is a possible solution to the problem of lead in water. He said that it does not leach any type of chemicals into drinking water systems. Mr. Kemp said that polyethylene was used primarily in World War II as insulation for electrical wiring, and that the extrusion process has generated polyethylene tubing and water piping used today in the District and nationwide. He stated that polyethylene is the primary source for water distribution in many municipalities in Europe.
According to Mr. Kemp, polyethylene resists freezing, is more resistant to acids, bases and salts than most other pipe materials, is unaffected by bacteria and fungi, will not be affected by root intrusion and returns to its normal size if flattened or crushed. He said that cities like Baltimore and Philadelphia have started programs to incorporate polyethylene into their water systems.
Jim Bobreski testified that he was once a contract employee at WASA's Blue Plains wastewater treatment plant and that he had reported some problems there in 1999. He is concerned with whether DOH is conducting hair samples of children in its lead level tests. Mr. Bobreski says that hair sample tests are better that blood testing in detecting lead levels because they show long-term exposure to heavy metals, unlike blood tests, and are less painful. He said that the composition of a service line can by easily detected by performing a "resistance check," as different metals have different resistance, and that this is an inexpensive test.
Mr. Bobreski described the prior history of his experience with EPA not cooperating and adequately performing inspections. He stated that during an independent counsel investigation of WASA, a WASA employee who was questioned at the time repeatedly said that he did not remember or did not recall answers to questions regarding inspection of the Blue Plains facility. Mr. Bobreski said that he is therefore concerned about the credibility of EPA and DOH with respect to this matter. He said that he had provided documents regarding DOH in which WASA filled out forms in which questions for three years of information, including summaries, were left blank. He stated that the only signature on these forms was from an engineer whose handwriting was illegible.
Mr. Bobreski said that he had previously reported problems of sabotage of equipment at Blue Plains that would make people aware of a chlorine leak, and that now the District faces this lead in water problem. He testified that WASA had received a $73.5 million in federal funding, in part for a metal salts handling facility, and that as far as he knows, this facility was never built. He said that Blue Plains has a license to handle radioactive waste, but that it has no radiological testing equipment to his knowledge.
Paul Schwartz, National Policy Coordinator for Clean Water Action, testified on behalf of Mike Davis, Massachusetts organizer for Clean Water Action on drinking water matters. Mr. Schwartz said that many of the problems that District residents are facing regarding the lead in drinking matter are similar to those of other large cities like Boston, Massachusetts. He said that the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA), which provides drinking water to the city of Boston and 29 surrounding cities and towns, serves a total of 2.2 million people and that the MWRA currently is technically out of compliance with the Interim Enhanced Surface Water Treatment Rule because the supply is not filtered. Mr. Schwartz stated that with the exception of calendar year 2002, Boston has never been in compliance with the EPA lead action level.
Mr. Schwartz testified that some of the problems that MWRA faces are:
He said that MWRA also has historically done a very poor job of communicating the threats of lead in water to its customers. Mr. Schwartz noted that in the Consumer Confidence Report distributed by MWRA to customers in June 2002, the title of the section addressing lead was entitled "Good News on Lead," while in reality, the 90th percentile of this water was 18.8 ppb and 52 of the 442 homes tested had samples above the lead action level. Since this time, Mr. Schwartz says that statements have been made by MWRA in the local media that the action level was missed by a "razor thin margin," the lead problem only applies to "a small fraction of the homes served" and residents should "run the water for a little bit" in order to reduce lead levels.
Mr. Schwartz said that he finds it troubling that the MWRA is brushing this problem off, as if not meeting the lead action level is no big deal. Clearly there is a need to get concrete information out to consumers so that they can protect their health and the health of their children, said Mr. Schwartz. He said that, given what has happened in the District, it is legitimate to ask questions about MWRA's communication with the public and finding appropriate ways to educate the public.
Mr. Schwartz said that MWRA customers have to pay for their own tests to find out if the water in their home has high lead levels, and that about 10% of the service lines in the MWRA system contain lead. He said that the MWRA does not have to warn residents if it knows that a particular area may have high lead levels and that vague warnings are sent to towns with high lead levels in their tap water. He stated that 100 of the 139 schools in the Boston public school system have switched to bottled water as an alternative source because of high lead levels in the tap water. Mr. Schwartz said that lead sampling for the MWRA system is based on a model in which service areas are broken into three tiers depending on the likelihood of high lead levels. Testing is only conducted in areas assumed to have high lead levels, which Mr. Schwartz says could pose a significant problem because areas that have received lead service line replacement with copper may now have higher lead levels due to a galvanic reaction with copper pipe and internal lead fixtures. Mr. Schwartz said that his organization's preliminary assessment is that MWRA and Boston city officials need to find out more about the nature of the problem of lead in water and take a proactive approach so that consumers can protect themselves. He said that more research needs to be done to see if this problem is affecting people's health.
In response to Mr. Schwartz's testimony, Chair Schwartz stated that some things in the District regarding the lead in water matter are better and some are worse than MWRA. She said that the vague notices going out to affected citizens and customers having to pay to have their water tested are worse than the District's situation. On the other hand, MWRA is providing bottled water in the Boston public schools that have a problem, unlike the District. Mr. Schwartz said that MWRA also has a centralized flushing program in the public schools. Chair Schwartz stated at this point that she had already mentioned in the hearing that she asked the Facilities Director of DCPS what was being done to make it better for schoolchildren in affected schools in the District, and that he mentioned the possibility of flushing. Chair Schwartz then held up a letter that she just wrote to the President of the Board of Education regarding policies for making the lead in water situation better in the District's schools.
Mr. Schwartz said that it is good to see action on part of the Council regarding this matter. He said that other cites have a lot to learn and that our leadership in the District on this issue will be a model for other jurisdictions. Chair Schwartz said that she has been as proactive as possible regarding this matter and that she would continue to be proactive on the issue until the problem of increased levels of lead in some District residents' water is resolved. Mr. Schwartz thanked Chair Schwartz and said that he was looking for more intervention by DOH, and more accountability from officials responsible and more in the way of oversight responsibilities from EPA. He recommended that EPA look again at the Lead and Copper Rule. Chair Schwartz mentioned new legislation in this area being offered by United States Senator James Jeffords and Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton and said that she hopes that what is learned in the District regarding this issue will be helpful to other jurisdictions.
Chris Hawthorne, President of AFGE Local 872 and Commissioner of ANC 8E03, testified that he was present to express concern and displeasure over the handling of lead service line replacement and the newly proposed rate increases by WASA. He said that it shows great disrespect to every District resident to propose a rate hike when the problem of excessive lead levels in drinking water has yet to be resolved. Mr. Hawthorne alleged that, to make matters worse, WASA continues to hide the facts regarding how long they knew about the lead in water problem.
Mr. Hawthorne says that WASA leaders have stated in public meetings that a rate increase is needed for a customer assistance program; however, he finds this hard to believe since WASA hasn't provided enough assistance to cure the problem faced now with lead. He said that it seems even more peculiar that WASA is asking each ratepayer for a five percent rate increase for a program to help theses ratepayers pay bills they can't afford. Mr. Hawthorne stated that WASA has offered remedies such as flushing lines for 10 minutes, which has only created a larger water bill for some of these customers
Mr. Hawthorne stated that at the last Committee hearing on this matter, he provided a figure representing the cost of WASA labor to replace individual lead service lines in the District -- $900. He said that this compared to a cost of $8,000 per line by the contractor who was awarded the project to replace these lines ($4 million divided by 500 service lines). Mr. Hawthorne said that WASA's response was that the latter figure includes paving and equipment usage. He questioned this response because he said that WASA workers have the same equipment. Mr. Hawthorne said that there is a lot of history around this situation, where District residents were hired under a program at lower positions into the now WASA, then known then as the Water and Sewer Utility Administration (WASUA). He said that in 1983 and 84, the same problem we faced today existed when high lead levels were found in homes in upper Northwest Washington, in the Chevy Chase area around Nebraska Avenue, NW, and Legation Street, NW. Mr. Hawthorne said that at that time, a plan was developed by the Department of Public Works, under which WASUA fell, and EPA to remove lead service lines in the District. He said that they knew that it would be a 25-year plan at that time and began to hire workers between 1983 and 1994. Mr. Hawthorne stated that during this time, replacement of lead water service lines was a required duty in these position descriptions.
Summary of District of Columbia Public Schools Testimony
Peggy Cooper Cafritz, President of the District Board of Education, testified that she believed that of the schools that the Water and Sewer Authority tested, those fixtures that tested above 15 parts per billion should be immediately turned off and the children should be given bottled water to drink for the remainder of the school year. Of those schools that did not test high, the results were fine as far as Ms. Cafritz was concerned.
"I was told to my surprise today that there are a couple of high schools that they did not test. When I asked why I was told that they did not have childcare centers. However, I learned that there were schools that were tested that did not have childcare centers. So that raises questions and it would be helpful if you could clear that up and get a commitment from WASA to test the schools and replace the fixtures that test high and supply bottle water where needed," Ms. Cafritz said.
Chair Schwartz thanked Ms. Cafritz for her testimony and commented that she appreciated her suggestions and would bring up the pertinent issues during the questioning of WASA:
Chair Schwartz further discussed the effects of remodeling as it relates to increased lead exposure and promised that she would ask the representatives from the Department of Health about the possible adverse health effects. Ms. Cafritz then committed to placing the issue of lead paint exposure on her front burner.
Councilmember Fenty asked Ms. Cafritz who was taking the lead on the testing in the schools, as it appeared to him that there was a long delay concerning the decision to test. Ms. Cafritz responded that she became concerned after the quality of the first test results were produced. "I wrote a letter to the Superintendent of the schools and the Water Department as well to retest the schools. I do think that we were too dependent on what WASA told us about the first test," she said.
Mr. Fenty noted that WASA at one point was not going to test the schools at all. Ms. Cafritz answered that there was no lapse of the School Board's concern:
Mr. Fenty disagreed and argued that the Superintendent should have been more cautious.
Councilmember Fenty concluded his questions for Ms. Cafritz by asking whether or not the school system was using a consultant to analyze the health effects of faucets that tested high for lead in water. Ms. Cafritz deferred to Mr. Jerry Johnson, General Manger of WASA, to provide an answer to this question. Chair Schwartz asked that Mr. Gregory Williams, Interim Executive Director for the Office of Facilities Management for DCPS ("Facilities"), respond to Mr. Fenty's question. Mr. Williams stated that Facilities is working with DOH and is following the regulatory guidance from EPA as well. Mr. Fenty then asked a follow-up question about the original 10-minute testing protocol that was used at the schools by WASA. Mr. Williams stated, "The protocol that was used was established by EPA and DOH. Jerry Johnson can go into detail but, again, after the initial first draw sampling we took another sample after a 10-minute flush of the lines," he said.
Mr. Fenty delved deeper into the issue of the 10-minute sampling protocol by arguing that the EPA's standard for the testing of schools is 30 seconds. Why, then, did the schools and independent agency go along with WASA's testing methodology? As Mr. Fenty understood the EPA testing protocol, it was best to test water that has been sitting in the pipes for at least six hours. Mr. Williams responded that the 10-minute flushing did not flush the water out of the entire line of the school system, but just the main line. "We are trying to look at the worst-case scenario of how many children would drink the water after that 10-minute flush," he said. Mr. Williams further stated that the EPA methodology was followed and that the rule that Councilmember Fenty referred to had been modified specifically for District area schools. Mr. Fenty disagreed with the new strategy and urged Facilities to conduct its own test.
Chair Schwartz then gave Mr. Williams an opportunity to read his opening statement. Mr. Williams discussed the 1993-1994 school year, when system-wide testing was performed in all District of Columbia Public Schools to determine if there were elevated levels of lead in water outlets. As a result of the testing, 300 water fountains which had lead levels exceeding the EPA standard of 20 parts per billion were immediately replaced. Those not replaced were taken out of service and bottled water was provided until fountains could be replaced. As a result of the mandate of the lead contamination control act, the Office of Facilities Management has continued to replace drinking fountains with lead free water coolers that have lead filters.
Chair Schwartz began her questions by asking Mr. Williams if he was around during the testing in February 2004 and whether or not he questioned the protocol used for the original testing. Mr. Williams stated that he was around and that the Task Force agreed to the approach with guidance from EPA. Mr. Williams further stated that the first sampling consisted of five fixtures, two sinks and three fountains. The methodology used originally was the 10-minute draw routine. Chair Schwartz then asked if random sampling was performed after the initial testing. That question was referred to WASA. "I can tell you that originally it was only going to be the 10-minute flush, and in the Task Force meeting I said I think we should do at least an initial draw, because I feel that every kid that goes to the water fountain isn't going to sit there for ten minutes and flush out the water," Chair Schwartz said. "And finally, after much arm-twisting, I got WASA to agree to that. So, to your knowledge, some of that was even done after the initial first draw testing?"
Mr. Williams agreed that random sampling had occurred. When originally asked the question, Mr. Williams failed to include the random sampling information. However, he clarified this by stating that not all of the schools were subjected to the first draw sampling, but that 22 schools out of 154 schools tested received the first draw methodology:
Chair Schwartz went on to ask about Mr. Williams' initial reaction to the first report of high levels of lead in some residents' drinking water. Mr. Williams responded that he was concerned about the schools lead levels, and as a result of his concern he assembled his staff together to address the situation. Mr. Williams further explained that lead-safe fountains are used in the schools to reduce risk of lead contamination. Chair Schwartz then asked if brass fixtures were being used in the fountains. Mr. Williams replied that they were and that even brass has some elements of lead. He said that DCPS has been using lead-free fixtures and lead-free water fountains since 1993. Chair Schwartz asked about the lapse of lead testing in the schools between 1994 and the present. Mr. Williams responded that periodic testing was conducted upon request from the individual schools after reports of peculiar tasting water. Chair Schwartz ended her questioning by requesting that Mr. Williams provide to the Committee a copy of any written policies that the District Public Schools have on lead testing.
Councilmember Harold Brazil spoke briefly about his willingness to work closely with Chair Schwartz on legislation that would offer homeowners assistance in having their lead pipes replaced. Councilmember Fenty resumed his questioning of Mr. Williams by asking why it took school officials three weeks to begin training and testing the schools for high lead levels. Mr. Ricardo A. Ely, a DCPS representative, responded that it was a collaborative effort among the schools, EPA, and WASA. During that three-week period, the testing protocol for the schools was being created. Mr. Fenty went on to question the logic of having a different set of testing standards for District schools that did not apply anywhere else. Councilmember Fenty again criticized the sampling protocol that was first adopted by the schools.
In response to Mr. Fenty's questions, Mr. Williams answered that WASA had informed him that there were no lead service lines coming into the schools, and that the issue was with the water coming into the schools and then coming out of the fountains. Councilmember Fenty asked how the schools knew that there were no lead pipes coming into the schools. Mr. Williams stated that WASA informed him of this fact. Councilmember Fenty asked whether or not WASA could be trusted, given its handling on this issue. Councilmember Fenty concluded by stating, "I wish the schools would take a more proactive approach to this issue, and find out whether or not there are lead pipes coming into the schools, and make sure that WASA follows the EPA protocol." Chair Schwartz ended this portion of the hearing by reminding the audience that the first sampling protocol was actually agreed to by the EPA.
Summary of EPA Testimony
Jon M. Capacasa, Director of the Water Protection Division of EPA's Region III, and Rick Rogers, Chief of EPA Region III's Drinking Water Branch, testified on behalf of EPA. Mr. Capacasa updated the Committee on the activities that are being undertaken by EPA to address the lead in water issue. He said that, during mid-April, the TEWG finalized their recommended water treatment changes to EPA to reduce elevated lead levels in some District drinking water. Mr. Capacasa said that the TEWG recommended that zinc orthophosphate be used as a corrosion inhibitor, that a partial system application be conducted beginning June 1 and that the Aqueduct had officially transmitted that request to EPA. He said that on April 30, EPA issued a letter to the Aqueduct and WASA authorizing the interim changes in the optimal corrosion control treatment and the partial system application of a corrosion inhibitor chemical. The treatment changes would begin in the area known as the 4th High Pressure Zone in Northwest Washington and would be closely monitored. He said that based upon the results of the partial system application, a separate decision would be made in early July to determine if the full system application of the treatment may proceed. This planned system-wide treatment is scheduled to start on or about July 15 if no irresolvable issues occur in the meantime, he said. Mr. Capacasa said that customers need to know that no significant drop in water lead levels is expected for at least six months after the full system treatment begins, and that residents should continue to flush their service lines and use water filters during this time. He also said that that EPOA has initiated through a contractor an analysis of the potential impacts on wastewater treatment of this change in chemicals and that the report is due to EPA by mid-June.
Mr. Capacasa said that EPA's national office released this week a summary of the latest data for large water systems in the country serving over 50,000 people with respect to the Lead and Copper Rule. He said the information showed that, since 2000, for these 838 systems, 22 or 3.1% of them exceeded the lead action level at one point. Only eight of those systems exceeded the action level during the most recent year, 2003. These 22 systems served a population of 5.2 million people, or roughly 40% of the population for those systems for which EPA has received data. Mr. Capacasa said that EPA is in the process of collecting information for the remaining systems, focusing next on the size category of 3,300 to 50,000 people.
Mr. Capacasa said that, during the past week, EPA participated with DOH, DCPS and WASA in the communication to the public of the results of over 1,900 water samples taken in District public schools between March 28 and April 6. He said that EPA's role was to provide technical assistance as requested, to provide guidance in the use of school testing protocols and to approve the sampling plan. He said that the sampling was not done to meet a regulatory requirement but was initiated as a prudent public health measure. Mr. Capacasa said that EPA believes the proper response was initiated by the District to remove 43 water outlets from service immediately after the results were made available to the schools, and that those fixtures will be replaced and retested before being put back in service. He urged all charter schools and other private schools to complete water lead testing, especially where the vulnerable population is being served.
Summary of DOH Testimony
Thomas Calhoun, M.D., Interim Senior Deputy Director of the Emergency Health and Medical Services Administration, DOH, testified that DOH has continued to provide District-wide free blood lead level testing and that, as of today, 5,208 individuals have been screened at multiple clinics and via home visits, with 1,863 of these individuals being in the target population. Of these individuals within the target population, two women who were nursing were found to have high lead levels (one was later found on retesting not to have an elevated blood lead level), no pregnant women had high lead levels and 35 children under the age of six had elevated blood lead levels. Of the total number of people outside of the target population, 5 children between the ages of six and fifteen had elevated levels and 4 adults had elevated blood lead levels. Of the 35 children under the age of six with elevated blood lead levels, none of them lived in homes with lead service lines. Dr. Calhoun stated that DOH found that each time they identified a child or nursing mother with an elevated blood lead level, lead dust and soil at their home exceeded Housing and Urban Development and EPA guidelines after an environmental assessment was done, with the exception of one child. Dr. Calhoun said that DOH had developed a plan for conducting blood lead level testing for 29 District public schools facilities, and that letters to parents and guardians as well as DOH lead consent forms, lead clinic schedules and lead fact sheets were sent home with students. Dr. Calhoun said that based on consultation with DCPS Interim Superintendent Robert Rice and other school officials, DOH agreed not to interrupt the daily activities of the schools in order to conduct lead screenings. He said that DOH is additionally making arrangements with Children's Hospital to offer free lead screenings for children in the target population. He projected May 7 as the date of completion of all blood lead level testing for home daycare centers and homes with grater than 300 ppb of lead in their water.
Dr. Calhoun said that DOH was continuing its community meetings on lead issues, and had implemented an electronic database for blood lead levels that became operational on April 15, 2004. He said that this new system allows rapid reporting to DOH of all blood lead levels from commercial laboratories such as Quest Diagnostics and Labcorps, Inc. and from all other sources.
Summary of Washington Aqueduct Testimony
Thomas P. Jacobus, General Manager of the Washington Aqueduct, did not have any prepared testimony but he answered questions from Chair Schwartz. Chair Schwartz referred to the Aqueduct's selection of zinc orthophosphate as an additive to the water treatment process, and asked Mr. Jacobus how the neighborhood for the test of this new chemical treatment was selected. Mr. Jacobus said that when it was decided not to go to a full system chemical change yet, the only place in the water distribution system where there is a repumping of water to a smaller area is in the 4th High Pressure System (Fort Reno area). He said that the other pumping stations pump to all of the water systems, and that the 4th High Pressure System was the only place in the Aqueduct pumping system where they could set up a separate apparatus. Mr. Jacobus said that the 4th High Pressure System was representative of the entire water distribution system in terms of age and lead service lines, and that it comprised only two and a half square miles, which allows for close monitoring.
Chair Schwartz asked if the residents living in the Fort Reno area were made aware of any possible health risks. Mr. Jacobus said that EPA and WASA had a series of fact sheets that would be mailed to the residents and that community meetings were also held regarding this changeover. He said that the most likely event was the generation of reddish water, due to the release of iron oxide from the service lines. Chair Schwartz said that she hoped that these residents could get their questions answered in light of the fact that they were in a sense being used as guinea pigs. Mr. Jacobus disputed that these residents were being used as guinea pigs and said that zinc orthophosphate is a proven chemical that has been used generally throughout the country, and that the only health effect is where people take in more iron. He said that, unlike the lead issue, the zinc orthophosphate is not toxic and a person can see if they have rusty water. He said, that if there was any red water, it would be temporary, but that he had concerns about people washing clothes with rusty water.
Chair Schwartz said that she wanted letters to the affected residents to get sent soon. She asked about community meetings regarding this change and Mr. Jacobus said that EPA had held two community meetings that were lightly attended. Chair Schwartz also asked about informing ANC commissioners of the affected areas, saying that she was pleased with this fact but that she thought it was important that ANC commissioners be involved as well. She also recommended holding community meetings conveniently located and close to what will be the affected area. She asked if the full system implementation was still on schedule for July 15, and Mr. Jacobus said that it was. He said that the June 1 date for partial system implementation would not move any sooner, however, because of issue of notification. He said that the partial implementation would have a $2 million total cost, with an additional $750,000 for pipe loop studies.
Chair Schwartz asked Mr. Jacobus if he had encountered any setbacks in the chemical treatment process and he said that he had not and that it was remarkably well coordinated. He said that, as the decision was made to change from phosphoric acid to zinc orthophosphate, they were forced to rethink some things but that there were no setbacks. Chair Schwartz said that she has certainly seen improvements in communications and follow through regarding this matter, but that she will continue to hold hearings on this matter to monitor the agencies involved in this matter.
Summary of WASA Testimony
Jerry Johnson, General Manager of WASA, and Michael Marcotte, Deputy General Manager and Chief Engineer of WASA, were present on behalf of WASA. Mr. Johnson testified that WASA's Board of Directors continues to be very engaged on the lead in water matter and that the Board is seeking public comment on a lead service line replacement policy resolution regarding the removal of all known lead service lines in public space by September 30, 2010 (See Appendix L.) He said that WASA is also continuing to hold community meetings regarding this matter. Mr. Johnson said that WASA had analyzed 12,099 lead waters samples through April 30. He said that, from late March through early April, DCPS, in cooperation with WASA, carried out an extensive program for sampling of water outlets in the public schools, concentrating on the target population of children under six in Head Start, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten programs. Data has been received from tests of 1,976 water samples representing 988 fixtures in 130 DCPS facilities. He said that the most common result (73.7% of the samples tested) was "non-detectable," confirming the low background level of lead in the public schools' water. Mr. Johnson said that 101 schools showed no evidence of elevated lead concentrations and that 44 fixtures in 20 facilities (4%) indicated elevated levels. Of these 44 fixtures, eight were drinking fountains and the remainder were sinks. He said that four fixtures tested above 300 ppb for the first draw, and that all of these were sinks. Three fixtures tested above 300 ppb on the second draw, and that two of these were sinks and the other was a water cooler. Mr. Johnson said that no fixture tested above 300 ppb on both the first and second draws. He said that DCOPS and WASA coordinated carefully with DOH and EPA to refine the sampling protocol to assure representative sampling.
Mr. Johnson said that the Lead Service Hotline function has shifted locations from the Blue Plains Central Operations Facility to 810 First Street NW, and that WASA has responded to 52,931 customer calls and 6,499 e-mails since February 4. He said that WASA has processed 23,348 water lead test kits. Mr. Johnson said that EPA has approved the pilot application of zinc orthophosphate to the Washington Aqueduct water treatment process in a letter dated April 30. He said that the pilot application of this treatment is expected to begin on or about June 1, and the EPA will address in a separate letter the full system application planned for later in the summer. Mr. Johnson also said that the Washington Post incorrectly reported yesterday that EPA concluded that WASA violated the Lead and Copper Rule. He said that WASA received a notice on March 31 form EPA requesting that WASA submit information to EPA regarding WASA's alleged non-compliance with certain provisions of the Lead and Copper Rule, and that this notification is part of a process that has not yet concluded.
Chair Schwartz asked Mr. Johnson if it was true that when WASA was initially testing the public schools in February, it had not intended to do any sampling on the first draw. He said that Chair Schwartz had clearly asked WASA to do first-draw sampling and that WASA did it on a random basis. He said that there were 22 first-draw samples taken in the schools and that all of them were below the action level. Mr. Marcotte added that WASA followed EPA protocols in all respects as they were laid out in the guidance documents with only two exceptions, which both had EPA's concurrence. Regarding the first exception, water coolers or fixtures that had an internal tank, Mr. Marcotte believed that EPA's guidance was inconsistent. He said that the goal was to get water that had spent the night in pipes in the walls, not in the water fixture, and that it was jointly agreed by WASA and EPA to evacuate that tank and to run the water for 15 minutes. The second exception was where EPA protocol called for obtaining a second-draw only if the first draw exceeded 20 ppb. He said that WASA did one-pass testing and that in several cases there was a low lead level first draw and a higher second draw. Mr. Marcotte said that if WASA had followed EPA's original protocol, they would never have gotten a second draw because the first draw didn't exceed 20 ppb.
Mr. Marcotte said that the data obtained suggests two different phenomena. The first is that if water sits overnight in a lead service line, it can pick up some lead. The second phenomenon is that when a large number of samples are taken from a water system in a place that does not have a lead problem, it is entirely possible that one will find several samples in the hundreds of parts per billion and one or two samples in the thousands of parts per billion because when one takes that many samples, it is possible that some little piece of lead has broken off in the plumbing system. He said that this is not mere speculation, but is based on data. Chair Schwartz commented that she still hoped that the District was doing the best it could to eliminate this problem, such as using water filters and flushing the water service lines.
Councilmember Fenty said that DCPS maintains that WASA has provided them information that there are no lead service lines in the schools and Councilmember Fenty asked Mr. Marcotte if this is true. Mr. Marcotte said that this was accurate. Councilmember Fenty asked him where he got his information from, and Mr. Marcotte mentioned several sources. He said that WASA consulted databases, pulled out the individual records of the school buildings that were constructed (records which he said were usually better than those of single-family houses), and knew that lead materials were generally used in smaller service lines, not those for schools.
Councilmember Fenty asked about one school in particular and why the classroom sink tested at 197 ppb on the first draw and 538 ppb on the second draw. Mr. Marcotte said that he would conclude that there was something going on in the immediate vicinity of that sink and the plumbing that feeds that sink, and that the sink should be looked at by DCPS. Councilmember Fenty also mentioned that there was a water cooler at that school that tested at 141 ppb on the first draw and 501 ppb on the second draw, and that this was an entirely different fixture from the previously mentioned sink. He said that it was unbelievable that so much lead was coming out of these fixtures. Mr. Marcotte stated that, in his discourse with Chair Schwartz, he had said that if one takes enough water samples from one system, by the law of large numbers one will find outliers in the data. He said that he wished he could explain better why this happens but that, once again, he believes that it probably has to do with a little piece of solid material that picked that particular time to come off that service line or fixture.
Summary of May 26, 2004 Public Oversight Hearing
The eighth public oversight hearing on the issue of lead in water was convened by Councilmember Carol Schwartz, Chair of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, on May 26, 2004. Chair Schwartz rhetorically asked who can we trust to give us proper information, get the work done well and prevent future problems regarding the issue of lead in water. She said that many citizens are skeptical and that her Committee is a forum through which she hopes trust can be rebuilt and one that can bring the various agencies forward to build trust. Chair Schwartz said that she is "holding everyone's feet to the fire" on this matter and that the problem must be fixed expeditiously. She said that it appears that the agencies involved are trying to do so.
Chair Schwartz stated that several initiatives have begun since she started holding hearings on this matter, including the testing of water in the public schools, expanded distribution of water filters and expanded blood testing. She also referred to the beginning of a new online system for reporting blood results. Chair Schwartz said that the District has to find money to make the fixes necessary and that she and the Mayor had begun to request federal funding to address this matter. She said that no federal funding had been provided yet but that she and the Mayor would not stop seeking it.
Chair Schwartz said that among the primary lessons learned were the need for cooperation between public service utilities and government agencies and the need for the involvement and engagement of regulators. She said that simply meeting the letter of the law is not good enough – the needs of residents must be met also. She mentioned that public health agencies need to be active partners with public service utilities and that clear communication is important, with consideration of different languages and educational backgrounds.
Chair Schwartz referred to five major changes EPA noted in its report to improve WASA. First, WASA should hire internal consultant experts in marketing and research. Second, WASA should conduct an internal communications audit. Third, a strategic communications plan needs to be developed by WASA. Fourth, stakeholders like customers need to be involved in WASA's decisionmaking. Fifth, WASA must monitor its effectiveness.
Summary of Public Witness Testimony
Among the experts present, Dr. Georges C. Benjamin, M.D., FACP, Executive Director of the American Public Health Association, testified at the Committee's request that there is lead all around us and that it is naturally occurring in the environment. He said that 40% of United States homes have lead-based paint and that 20% of lead exposure can occur from water, usually from lead pipes or solder. Dr. Benjamin said that lead exposure in the home can also result from lead glazed dishes, some food cans' solder, some imported candies and folk remedies. He stated that 1977 was an important year for aggressively getting lead of out gas, pipe solder and house paint and that this resulted in a dramatic reduction of lead poisoning.
Dr. Benjamin testified that lead gets into the human body by being ingested and inhaled, and that the body confuses it for iron or calcium. He said that it can stay in the bones for years and cause anemia, developmental delay, mental and cognitive disorders, kidney dysfunction, muscle aches, miscarriages and coma or death in large doses. He said that there is no proven safe level but that lead poisoning is preventable by flushing one's water lines, using filters, remediation and avoiding high risks. Dr. Benjamin said that the biggest risk for lead is still in the home and that the key is getting into homes and finding out where the exposure is coming from. In response to a question from Chair Schwartz, Dr. Benjamin stated that problems with lead in other jurisdictions is not uncommon, especially in urban centers with older housing stock.
James O'Hara testified that his wife, a nursing mother, and his daughter both suffered lead poisoning recently. He said that his wife tested at 46 mg/dl and his daughter at 23 mg/dl, and that he wants to know why. He said that he had requested a test kit, received a kit on March 4, 2004, dropped off his test sample on March 12 and was told that the results would take about 45 days. After he hadn't heard anything two months later, Mr. O'Hara said he called Councilmember Jack Evans' office, which put him in touch with WASA, who told him that his test was disqualified because of the instructions that were given with the test. Mr. O'Hara said that he then had to retest his water, and was awaiting the results when he conducted his own independent test that showed a lead level of 29 ppb. He believes that his wife got lead in her body from the tap water in their home and that other citizens are probably going through the same thing. He said that his wife was told to suspend breastfeeding.
Mr. O'Hara said that this situation occurred in 1996 and that he moved out of his house in Georgetown in 1998 because of this. Chair Schwartz asked if his house had been checked for lead paint and Mr. O'Hara said that it had been and that no lead paint was found. Chair Schwartz expressed surprise because she said the chemical composition of the water had changed in 2000, four years after 1996. Mr. O'Hara pointed to a possible earlier change in the water regarding chloramines. Chair Schwartz agreed with Mr. O'Hara that the runaround he experienced regarding testing is very frustrating, and mentioned that he only found out that the results were disqualified when he called, not by being contacted by WASA.
Richard Maas, Ph.D., Professor of Environmental Science, University of North Carolina-Asheville (UNCA), and Co-Director of the Environmental Quality Institute at UNCA, testified that he has spent 17 years studying the dynamics of lead in water, had previously directed the lead poisoning prevention program in North Carolina and published over 50 original research articles on lead in water. He said that his institute had done lead in water testing on over 140,000 homes, over 10,000 schools and over 5,000 businesses. Dr. Maas stated that in the late 1980s, lower lead exposure levels were found to be enough to cause major neurological damage and learning deficits in children and that this spurred concern over lead in water. He said that the most recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine in April 2003 compared a group of children with 1 mg/dl of lead in their body versus one with 10 mg/dl, and that there was a 7.4 point IQ difference between them. He said that study concluded that it is the first small amounts of lead in the blood that causes the most damage to children and that there is less damage as the levels increase.
Dr. Maas said that virtually every public water supplier in the nation has a significant number of homes with lead contamination. He said that water is naturally corrosive and is called "the universal solvent." Dr. Maas said that corrosion control is more of an art than a science. He said that there are a number of ways lead can enter tap water. For homes built prior to 1988, lead solder joints were used, and leaded faucet fixtures were used until 1998. Dr. Maas stated that we still have leaded brass water meters and water service parts, but that lead service lines can dwarf other sources of lead in water. He said that there is almost no way to make water so non-corrosive so that lead service lines will not be a problem. He stated that replacing only part of a lead service line could cause a galvanic reaction with disruption to the system and could put particulate lead in water systems. His advice is that if one is going to replace a lead service line, which he recommends, one should replace the entire line.
Dr. Maas said that EPA's Lead and Copper Rule reduced lead in water in this country by 50% but that it is hard to do anything about the other 50%. He said that it is up to the individual homeowner to get their water tested for lead and/or to get a water filter. He said that water suppliers fixed half of the problems that they could, but that instead of being honest, they told the public that the problem was totally fixed. Dr. Maas said that these water suppliers tried to sweep the problem under the rug. He said that the EPA action level was allowed to be put out as a health standard, which it isn't. He said that EPA approached his lab in 1990 and asked at what lead level they would have to set a 90th percentile so that 25% of the nation's water supplies would exceed it, so they could find those that had more corrosive water to get more bang for the buck. Dr. Maas said that he told them that if they made it 15 ppb, about 25% of the nation's water systems would exceed it, and that EPA then made the action level at 15 ppb. He stated that, therefore, even in a jurisdiction that doesn't exceed the action level, the water in thousands of homes was likely have high levels of lead.
Dr. Maas had three recommendations. First, he said that all lead service lines should be replaced. Second, he stated that every school and daycare water source in the District should be tested for lead. Third, he said that everyone should be strongly encouraged to get their water tested. He also recommended that all new water meters and water service parts put in should be "no-lead" rather than "lead free," which he said are really not free of all lead. Although he said he was not suggesting changing parts in water meters that have already been installed, he advised that as these meters were replaced and repaired, they should be done so with no-lead parts.
Regarding testing in schools, Dr. Maas testified that if one is getting non-detectable levels in 95% of the schools, there's no need to go back to retest those schools. He said that one wants to monitor those schools that test between 5 and 25 ppb. He stated that if a fountain is over 25 ppb, one should assume it is dangerous, and if it's under 5 ppb, one can probably assume that you don't need to go back to retest it. Dr. Maas said that one could eliminate retesting on 75% of the school fountains by doing this and could more than make up for the financial burden in testing them properly in the first place. He testified that a reverse osmosis filter would get out 100% of the lead in water and would remove all other pollutants. He said that the "Cadillac" version of this type of filter would cost under $1,000, compared to $600 for the cost of a regular water cooler. Dr. Maas said that one could outfit an entire school with reverse osmosis filters for $25,000 and a maintenance contract of a couple thousand dollars a year. He said that it is vastly cheaper than tearing out plumbing and a much better solution because it would provide 100% pure water. He said that if one simply tore out the current plumbing and replaced it, you would still have pollutants, and some lead, copper and chlorinated disinfectant by-products.
Dr. Maas also stated that various communities in the United States were paying the costs of the portion of lead service line replacements on homeowners' private property. However, Michael Marcotte, Deputy Manager and Chief Engineer of WASA, later disputed this testimony and said that Dr. Maas was mistaken.
Tee Guidotti, M.D., M.P.H., D.A.B.T., Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the George Washington University Medical Center and Director of the Center for Risk Science and Public Health, said that the Center's role is to serve as a resource for WASA. Dr. Guidotti said that WASA calls upon his organization for clarification of health-related issues, for ideas in improving WASA's communication with their customers, for input in improving the Drinking Water Quality Report and as a sounding board for risk management strategies.
Chair Schwartz said that she heard that Dr. Guidotti was the first water system health consultant and he said that he was not aware of other water authorities having obtained direct health experts. Chair Schwartz said that she thought it would seem like the natural thing to do. She asked Dr. Guidotti if he sees a need for water authorities to have such health experts and he said that it depends on the situation. In this particular situation involving the District's drinking water, Dr. Guidotti said that he saw a real need for assistance from health experts such as himself. He said that he didn't think that having a health expert on board at the time the lead issue began would have helped prevent the situation, but it might have helped the public outreach response and validating some of the techniques used in the short term. Dr. Guidotti said that his contract is for $135,000 and that it includes about six people working with him and resources of George Washington University.
James Bobreski testified that he briefly worked at WASA and was before the Council three years ago testifying on the management of WASA. He suggested that WASA has too much authority and that it should be broken up into five or six divisions. He said that WASA demonstrated that it thought it was above the law by allowing a year and a half go by without reporting the lead in water problem. Mr. Bobreski said that, when questioned about the lead issue, Mr. Marcotte said that he was not privy to the information, which is the same thing Mr. Marcotte said four and half years ago regarding the compromising of the chorine detection system. Mr. Bobreski stated that the Committee should look into WASA's funding and how it was spent, and that the bids that Christopher Hawthorne, President of AFGE Local 872 and Commissioner for ANC 8E03, had testified about previously regarding spending $8,000 on lead service line replacements should be examined. Mr. Bobreski also recommended conducting hair sample tests of children instead of blood tests for the presence of lead. He said that blood testing provides only a recent history of lead exposure while hair sample tests show accumulation over long periods of time.
Mr. Christopher Hawthorne, President of AFGE Local 872 and Commissioner for ANC 8E03, testified that he is concerned about the lead service line replacement program with respect to WASA workers. He said that these workers can do the job of service line replacement cheaper and faster than waiting until 2010. He also said that he thinks he said things in the past that WASA management didn't like, and that he went to WASA managers and the General Manager about programs that he thought shouldn't be cut. Mr. Hawthorne said that WASA management thinks he is complaining, but that he is simply representing the interests of WASA workers. He said that WASA is now looking at a contract for lead service line replacement of $300 million in costs that was awarded for $4 million previously. He said that this equates to $8,000 per service line, and that WASA can do it for less, such as $3,000 per line.
Evanna Powell testified that it appears that WASA may be doing things prematurely in terms of lead service line replacement. She said that it has not been definitively established what the cause is of lead in water and that it is expensive to go ahead with lead service line replacement. She said that it would be more fiscally sound if WASA just provided bottled water to affected people until it is determined whether the chemical change will satisfy the problem.
Summary of DCPS Testimony
Robert Rice, Interim Superintendent of the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS), and George Williams, DCPS Facilities Director, testified regarding lead testing of the drinking water in District public schools. Mr. Rice first wanted to correct the record from the Committee hearing on May 5, 2004. He said that the results of the water lead testing in the District public schools were delivered to him on April 28, 2004 and that he immediately met with the public school system's facilities people and had all the identified fixtures and fountains shut off. Mr. Rice said that, at an April 29, 2004 press conference, DOH said that it would deliver letters to affected schools. He said that at the May 5 hearing, it was indicated that the school principals did not deliver these letters. However, Mr. Rice said that he called DOH and that he was informed that those letters were delivered by DOH to the schools the previous day, 5 days after he was told by DOH that they would and too late to be delivered by the principals. He said that DOH had indicated it had changed its mind about the content of the first letter advising parents of the blood testing of children in those schools. Mr. Rice said that DOH again changed its mind on May 10 regarding the protocol for blood testing of children. He said that, at first there was no urgency by DOH, but that they then requested to be allowed to enter the schools and do blood testing in a health room or teachers' lounge. Mr. Rice said that he had reservations about this but allowed it. He said that any accusation that there was a delay by DCPS was not accurate, and that any delay was caused by DOH not getting letters to the schools promptly.
Chair Schwartz mentioned that at the last hearing on this matter, she had recommended that the Board of Education adopt a policy requiring annual lead testing of fountains and fixtures in public schools and charter schools. Mr. Rice said that he was aware of this recommendation and that he had looked into the costs of it. He said that DCPS was moving forward with setting up a protocol for regular lead testing of schools. Chair Schwartz also asked about high levels in eight of the schools, in particular a school with a fixture testing at 7,300 ppb. In response to a question from Chair Schwartz, Mr. Williams said that DCPS was still trying to finalize a protocol for remediation and that once that protocol was established, DCPS would develop some sort of maintenance program. Chair Schwartz asked how much it had cost DCPS in overtime for its employees to conduct this water lead testing, and Mr. Williams said that it was about $60,000. Chair Schwartz then asked if DCPS had seen reimbursed for this expense and Mr. Williams said that he had provided this figure to the Emergency Management Agency (EMA) and it was his understanding that DCPS would then be reimbursed.
Summary of DOH Testimony
Thomas Calhoun, M.D., Interim Senior Deputy Director of the Emergency Health and Medical Services Administration, DOH, testified that DOH has expanded its blood lead level screening and is currently conducting screenings of students at several DCPS schools based on those who have returned their consent forms. He said that DOH sent consent forms to DCPS on May 6, 2004 and began conducting blood lead tests at Hearst Elementary School on May 17. Dr. Calhoun said that DOH has visited 10 schools and screened 454 students. Of these, two students at Wilkerson Elementary School had elevated blood lead levels of 17 and 18 mg/dl. He said that seven additional schools were scheduled for screenings during the next two weeks and that DOH would schedule additional schools for testing based upon receipt of their consent forms. He said that DOH expects to complete all blood lead level screenings by June 11. He also said that DOH is working to screen students at several charter schools.
Dr. Calhoun stated that DOH is continuing its District-wide free blood lead level testing at standing clinics. He also stated that DOH's new electronic database for reporting blood levels was launched on April 15, 2004. DOH has screened a total of 5,709 residents, which is 901 more than was tested at the time of the May 5 hearing. Of these 5,709 individuals, 2,028 were within the target population. Within the target population, two women who are nursing were found were have high lead levels (one was later found on retesting not to have an elevated blood lead level), no pregnant women had high lead levels and 42 children under the age of six had elevated blood lead levels. Of the total number of people outside of the target population, 9 children between the ages of 6 and 15 had elevated levels and 4 adults had elevated blood lead levels.
Chair Schwartz asked Dr. Calhoun if he had heard the discussion with Dr. Rice from DCPS regarding not having received a letter from DOH until a week later than planned because of changes. Dr. Calhoun said that the original letter to the schools went out on April 30 and that it was e-mailed (and mailed) in five different languages. He said that he checked again on May 6 and confirmed that no consent forms had been received from the schools until that time. Chair Schwartz asked if there was a willingness of parents to follow up with consent forms and Dr. Calhoun said that there was.
Summary of EPA Testimony
Thomas Voltaggio, Deputy Regional Administrator for EPA's Region III, updated the Committee on EPA's latest activities to address the lead in water issue in the District. He testified that, from April 2 to May 7, 2004, the annual changeover of secondary disinfectant chemicals from chloramines to free chlorine took place. He said that it was reported that the preliminary results of seven households showed a substantial reduction in water lead levels after this chemical changeover. Mr. Voltaggio said that the initial analysis indicates that free chlorine may have helped to create a protective layer that slowed the rate of corrosion. However, he also said that switching back to free chlorine is not the long-term answer. Mr. Voltaggio said that, therefore, the Technical Expert Working Group (TEWG) plans to continue with the interim water changes authorized by EPA. He said that the anticipated timetable continues to be implementation of the partial system application of an orthophosphate corrosion inhibitor on or around June 1 in an area of Northwest Washington, with full introduction of the proposed remedy in mid-July, depending on the results of the more limited application. He said that EPA would continue to work with its partners to assure that the public is well informed of the treatment changes and the temporary effects on water quality that may occur. Mr. Voltaggio reminded customers that reduction in water lead level will likely not occur for at least six months after the treatment changes begin, and that customers need to continue to follow the flushing guidelines and use water filters to ensure that those in the vulnerable population are protected from elevated lead levels.
Mr. Voltaggio said that WASA continues to move ahead on a series of actions directed by EPA and the District government to address the lead in water issue, such as the distribution of filters and a plan to replace lead service lines. He said that EPA is completing a detailed compliance audit of WASA's lead service line program, public education and compliance sampling actions. He said that, based on preliminary information, EPA asserted instances in which WASA may not have met certain requirements. He also said that nearly 6,000 pages of documents and voluminous electronic files are currently under review by EPA as part of their compliance audit.
Mr. Voltaggio said that EPA identified a number of issues in its Public Education Report where WASA did not meet its obligations to the pubic regarding this matter. Such issues include a lack of a sense of urgency in outreach efforts, failure to adequately convey information to the intended audience, insufficient opportunity for involvement by the public in development of a communications strategy and lack of tracking measures to determine the success of outreach efforts. Chair Schwartz was pleased to see that EPA also included recommendations for its Region III to improve its oversight of WASA's public education program, and to not hold itself blameless in this matter. Mr. Voltaggio acknowledged that EPA shared in the responsibility for the lead in the water issue.
Summary of Washington Aqueduct Testimony
Thomas P. Jacobus, General Manager of the Washington Aqueduct, did not have any prepared testimony but he answered questions from Chair Schwartz. Chair Schwartz said that the District was approximately 5 days away from partial implementation of the chemical treatment and asked whether that was still on schedule. Mr. Jacobus said that it was, and that the equipment is in place at the Fort Reno Pumping Station. Chair Schwartz said that she understood previously that the District was going to use zinc orthophosphate as a chemical treatment but that now she understood that a different decision had been made. Mr. Jacobus acknowledged that, even though the TEWG had planned to use zinc orthophosphate, about a week ago, Arlington County, which has a wastewater plant that would be a recipient of the zinc orthophosphate, was concerned that use of zinc orthophosphate would cause problems of compliance for their wastewater plant. Therefore, the TEWG decided to use straight orthophosphate instead of zinc orthophosphate. He said that he had alerted Chair Schwartz to this fact earlier today. Mr. Jacobus said that he was confident that the orthophosphate will achieve the desired results, but cannot predict exactly when. Chair Schwartz asked if there was any way to treat Arlington County differently or limit the effect of zinc orthophosphate on its wastewater treatment lane, and Mr. Jacobus said that there was no way to divert wastewater from Arlington County or treat it differently.
Mr. Jacobus stated that he couldn't say with certainty what will happen with the zinc orthophosphate because, based on science, every water supply is different. However he did say that it is better to add uncertainty to the process now rather than later, and to be able to make a change if needed. He talked about moving quickly but carefully. Chair Schwartz asked if there was a difference in cost between zinc orthophosphate and orthophosphate. Mr. Jacobus said that $1.1 million was budgeted for zinc orthophosphate and that the orthophosphate is $400,000 cheaper. He assured Chair Schwartz, however, that the decision to use orthophosphate had nothing to do with cost.
Summary of WASA Testimony
Jerry Johnson, General Manager of WASA, testified that WASA had responded to 54,331 customer calls and 6,538 e-mails since February 4, 2004. He said that they had processed 23,168 test kit requests in response to these calls. Mr. Johnson said that WASA was averaging about 1,000 calls a day to their hotline in February and are now receiving just over 100 calls a day during the week. He stated that through May 26, WASA had analyzed over 16,000 lead waters samples and that, generally, testing results showed no significant variations compared to data released in previous weeks, except with respect to data collected between April 6 and May 8.
Mr. Johnson said that WASA and the Aqueduct annually conduct a springtime flushing of the water system by switching from the use of chloramines to free chlorine, and that a preliminary analysis of this recent flushing appears to indicate that, between April 2 and May 8, approximately 25 to 30% of homes with lead service lines showed significantly lower levels of lead in their water than would have been predicted. Mr. Johnson said that this suggests that water treatment systems must exercise even more caution in implementing regulatory mandates, and that EPA must exercise a great degree of prudence in administering the Lead and Copper Rule and all Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) requirements in order to ensure that simultaneous compliance with EPA requirements can be achieved without impeding compliance with other regulatory mandates.
He also raised the issue of water meters and whether they were leaching lead. Mr. Johnson said that WASA's Request For Proposals (RFP) for its meter replacement project was written to ensure that the meters would meet industry standards and the lead-free requirements of the American Water Works Association and the SDWA. He said that lead-free under the SDWA means any device containing 8% lead or less. Mr. Johnson said that the meters selected by WASA conform to AWWA guidelines and SDWA and National Sanitation Foundation international standards.
Mr. Johnson stated that the Aqueduct would be adding orthophosphate to the water supply on June 1, 2004. He said that the chemical will be added in two phases-- first, to the water supply for a small area in the northwest quadrant of the District and, later in the summer, to the entire water distribution system. Mr. Johnson said that it is possible that some residents may see rust-colored water from their taps at the very beginning of this chemical changeover, but that this side effect will be temporary. He also said that WASA has developed an extensive outreach campaign to inform residents of this impending change.
Mr. Johnson said that the total cost of the application of the orthophosphate through the end of the fiscal year is approximately $2.75 million and that the estimated total cost of the additional chemical next year is about $1.1 million. He said that in FY 2004, WASA expects to spend approximately $26 million to replace between 1,615 and 1,795 lead service lines, that command and hotline operations expenses are expected to cost about $1.53 million, that water sampling and filter costs are expected to be over $7 million and that blood testing, environmental assessments and other support for DOH are projected to cost $1.25 million.
Chair Schwartz mentioned to Mr. Johnson that she was pleased that he amended his oral testimony from the written testimony to say that the Aqueduct would be using orthophosphate instead of zinc orthophosphate. She asked if there was any cost differential for the use of orthophosphate, since that was not reflected in Mr. Johnson's testimony. He said that the $2.75 million cost that he stated was related to removal of phosphates at WASA's wastewater treatment plant, and that the cost of the orthophosphate will be 30% less than that of zinc orthophosphate.
Summary of June 17, 2004 Public Oversight Hearing
Chair Schwartz held the ninth roundtable discussion on the issue of lead in water on June 17, 2004. At this hearing, Chair Schwartz announced that she would continue to follow the progress of the agencies involved in addressing this issue in order to keep District residents informed of progress and to ensure that gaps in efforts are expeditiously addressed. She said that since the last Committee hearing on this matter, the Washington Aqueduct began adding phosphoric acid on June 1, 2004 to the District's water provided to a section of Northwest Washington and that the phosphoric acid is supposed to act as a corrosion inhibitor by forming a protective coating inside of lead service line pipes and fixtures to prevent lead from leaching into drinking water. She said that originally the testing was to expand to the whole city on July 15, 2004, but that yesterday she had been informed that citywide testing would be delayed until August 9, 2004. Chair Schwartz concluded her opening remarks by stating that she had invited representatives from WASA, DOH and EPA to attend the meeting and to respond to the Committee's questions.
Overview of Public Testimony
James J. Bobreski, a former District resident, thanked Seema Bhat, who testified at the first Committee hearing on this matter, for efforts to help to educate the public of the lead in water issues that she had identified as a WASA employee. He noted that Ms. Bhat is now unemployed and suggested that she was fighting to get her deserved dignity back. He wondered what will happen to WASA management in this matter and expressed concern that they will be rewarded once again with a substantial bonus and pay raise.
Mr. Bobreski reminded Chair Schwartz that he had raised the issue of using hair for lead testing at the May 5, 2004 hearing. He indicated that his concern was referred to Dr. Stokes of DOH, and that Dr. Stokes completely disqualified the use of hair as an indication of lead history screening. Dr. Stokes had testified that "scientifically, hair is not the appropriate media to predict long term exposure. Difficulty arises when the absorption of lead on the exterior of the hair would contaminate the hair." She stated that for industrial or occupational exposure, bone/dentine would be the only means of verification and, then, only after blood testing was in the range of 50 to 70 mg/dl per deciliter. Mr. Bobreski said that at the Committee's May 26, 2004 hearing, he offered a report (the "Tuthill Report") which was used in a seminar by EPA representative Deborah Rice, Ph.D. (in toxicology) for the Minnesota Department of Health and that the Tuthill Report states that scalp hair should be considered a useful clinical and epidemiological approach for the measurement of chronic low level lead exposure in children. He expressed the opinion that EPA has a double standard of enforcement for its rules and regulations.
Mr. Bobreski indicated that he had submitted to the Committee numerous documents from the FBI regarding serious environmental issues with WASA. He said that they include 250 gallons of acid dumped into the Potomac River to adjust for an inventory issue, 35,000 gallons of sludge waste dumped on the streets and destruction of chlorine sensors, with no sanctions having been issued against WASA. He expressed the concern that WASA had now failed to report lead conditions to homeowners and that EPA supported WASA in this matter for eighteen months. He added that EPA wants to sidestep responsibility in this matter by saying that WASA was only required to report industrial/commercial exposure.
Chris Hawthorne, President of AFGE Local 872 and Commissioner of ANC 8E03, expressed concerns about contracts being given by WASA for lead service replacement, the cost of the contracts and WASA's alleged changes to union works descriptions. He said that it was his opinion that the contracted work could be done in-house for less cost. He also cited examples of in-house workers having to correct work performed by contractors.
Summary of DOH Testimony
Dr. Thomas Calhoun, Interim Senior Deputy Director, Emergency Health and Medical Services Administration, DOH and Director of DOH's Lead Response Operations, and Dr. Lynette Stokes, PhD, Chief, Bureau of Hazardous and Toxic Substances, testified on behalf of DOH. Dr. Calhoun informed the Committee that DOH has completed blood lead level testing for 1,143 persons at 26 District public schools. He shared an updated "Summary of Blood Lead Screening Test Results," dated June 14, 2004, and discussed the summary in detail. He indicated that results of the blood level testing are being mailed to the parents of children and the school nurse at the schools. DOH continues to offer District-wide free blood lead level testing at standing clinics, with 6,330 persons tested at multiple clinics across the District and via home visits. Dr. Calhoun indicated that of all those tested, only four had blood lead levels in excess of 25 mg/dl. He said that health action is not required of those who test below 45 mg/dl. Dr. Calhoun concluded his testimony by saying that DOH continues to participate in community meetings regarding lead in water issues. Chair Schwartz asked Dr. Calhoun whether any pregnant women were in the group of four who tested high and he responded no.
Dr. Stokes briefed the Committee on the environmental assessments that are being conducted to determine the source of lead in households where test results indicate elevated blood lead levels. In response to Chair Schwartz's question, Dr. Stokes indicated that 50 homes had received environment assessments. Chair Schwartz asked Dr. Calhoun whether he had any expertise related to the use of phosphoric acid in the water. He responded that he did not but that he had been in contact with the Washington Aqueduct and WASA and knew that EPA has approved the phosphoric acid for use, and that other jurisdictions currently use phosphoric acid in their water treatment activities. Chair Schwartz asked Dr. Calhoun to investigate the use of phosphoric acid by other jurisdictions and to report back any potential concerns with its use at the next Committee oversight hearing.
Chair Schwartz asked Dr. Calhoun to comment on the impact, if any, that the District's lead in water issue has had on the health of District children. He responded that it was his opinion that lead in water had not had a significant impact on the health of District children. He said that those who have shown to have lead in their blood appear to have it as a result of lead paint exposures in their homes. Chair Schwartz expressed comfort with the test results and urged Drs. Calhoun and Stokes to continue to keep up the testing and the assessments.
Summary of EPA Testimony
Jon M. Capacasa, Director of Water Protection Division, EPA Region III, and Vicky Binetti, Associate Director for Municipal Assistance at EPA's Region III, testified on behalf of EPA. Mr. Capacasa provided the Committee with several updates on areas where EPA has been active to help address the lead in water issue. He said that EPA issued an authorization letter on May 28, 2004 to the Washington Aqueduct and WASA for the start of the partial system application of the modified corrosion control treatment process in a portion of Northwest Washington. The partial system application of the orthophosphate corrosion inhibitor chemical began as scheduled in the 4th High Pressure Zone on June 1, 2004. This modification to the corrosion control treatment method was the result of recommendations from the Technical Expert Working Group (TEWG) and an Independent Peer Review panel organized by EPA. Mr. Capacasa said that all indications are that the process is proceeding very well at this point.
Mr. Capacasa stated that the modified treatment must be maintained within set water quality parameters and monitored closely throughout the partial system application. He said that additional equipment was installed by the Washington Aqueduct to help maintain the required pH levels in this area, and that the Aqueduct completed installation on June 9, 2004 of a caustic soda (sodium hydroxide) chemical feed at the Fort Reno pumping station and are able to fine-tune the pH levels to those authorized. Mr. Capacasa said that all chemical parameters are currently within normal ranges and all the new equipment continues to operate without a problem. He stated that WASA has not reported to the Aqueduct or to EPA any customer complaints to date in the 4th high-pressure zone regarding red water problems, but that there remains the potential for reddish water to occur since the full dose of 3 mg/l has only been reached on June 9, 2004, a little more than one week ago.
Mr. Capacasa said that if no irresolvable issues are determined during the partial system application of treatment, the approved plan calls for full system application of the orthophosphate treatment as soon as feasible. He indicated that the Washington Aqueduct has been working at full speed on the completion of necessary contract actions for the purchase and installation of new equipment at their two treatment plants to support the system-wide treatment change. The current projection is for the start of the full system application to occur on or about August 7, 2004, roughly three weeks later than the target date of July 15, 2004.
Mr. Capacasa said that WASA's efforts to flush the entire distribution system prior to the full system treatment are ongoing. He said that it is unlikely that EPA's and WASA's flushing crews and contractors will complete the flushing of more than about 50% of the distribution system by July 15, 2004. He stated that the reductions in lead levels at the tap will likely only be accomplished after several months have passed, possibly up to a year or longer, and that the corrosion inhibitor must build up a protective layer on the pipes in order to be fully effective. Mr. Capacasa urged the public to continue employing the Consumer Guidance for tap water flushing and the health guidance on the use of water filters to ensure that low levels of lead are achieved in water used for drinking and cooking. He indicated that local agencies and EPA will notify the public when these measures are no longer needed.
Mr. Capacasa said that during prior Committee hearings, EPA had mentioned its commitment to evaluate the potential impacts of the water treatment changes on wastewater treatment facilities. He stated that EPA is continuing to evaluate both the selected treatment chemical, orthophosphate, as well as the main alternative, which is zinc orthophosphate. He said that pipe loop studies and research on both chemicals are proceeding and that EPA's contractor has submitted a preliminary report on June 11, 2004 on their screening analysis of potential impacts from the application of orthophosphate or zinc orthophosphate. Mr. Capacasa said that the final report is nearing completion pending responses from WASA and Arlington County, Virginia on their final calculations of zinc and phosphorous loadings. Initial findings indicate that increases in operating costs to remove the increased amount of phosphorous will be experienced at both WASA's Blue Plains treatment plant and Arlington County's wastewater facility. Neither is expecting to experience discharge permit violations due to the increase in phosphorous. Mr. Capacasa said that Arlington County's more detailed analysis of the zinc impacts to its treatment plant biological processes (biomass) is one of the remaining gaps to fill in the report and is expected by the end of this week, June 18, 2004, and that there are no expected zinc impacts to Blue Plains' treatment plant biomass. Mr. Capacasa said that zinc will accumulate in wastewater biosolids or sludge, and that neither Blue Plains nor Arlington County is expecting to experience any problems with the slight increase in zinc concentrations in their biosolids. He told Chair Schwartz that EPA would provide a copy of the final report to the Committee (See Appendix J).
Mr. Capacasa said that EPA has been very actively engaged over the past four months in a detailed audit of the compliance status of WASA relative to the Lead and Copper Rule over the past several years. This audit is a special, intensive review of many more records than is typical for EPA to receive during annual or periodic compliance reports from WASA. He indicated that WASA has supplied thousands of pages of documents and electronic records for EPA's review to help determine whether the drinking water regulation was fully implemented as required. He added that WASA has been very cooperative in this effort and that EPA has been in frequent communications over its tentative findings. Mr. Capacasa said that EPA was nearing completion of its analysis and findings under the audit. He said that he expected to share the results with the Committee in the near future, thanked the Committee for its continuing attention to this important public health issue and offered EPA's assistance in this matter. Mr. Capacasa also informed Chair Schwartz that EPA had reached a consent agreement with WASA in this matter (See Appendix K).
Chair Schwartz thanked Mr. Capacasa for his testimony and for information on the consent order that EPA had reached with WASA. She said that she was glad to see that a consent agreement was reached and was pleased to hear that there were no upfront financial penalties, since penalties would have to be paid by the WASA ratepayers. She reiterated that new safeguards needed to be put in place to protect those who receive water from WASA. She indicated that WASA has been working very hard to rectify past dereliction of duty. Mr. Capacasa acknowledged that WASA has been working very hard to remedy its past problems in this matter and that they are to be commended for their efforts. He also mentioned that EPA would continue to acknowledge WASA's efforts. Chair Schwartz asked whether EPA's own dereliction of duty was reflected in the consent agreement. Mr. Capacasa said that in many instances EPA has acknowledged its failures, that recommendations for improvement had been developed and that Chair Schwartz's concerns are a point well taken. Chair Schwartz added that EPA has primacy of regulation over the District's drinking water program and that she would like to do a consent order with EPA to insure that the District government receives the services that it deserves. She said that EPA should not be held harmless with respect to the consent order. Mr. Capacasa said that the mere fact that a consent order was reached is a sign that EPA and WASA are working in a cooperative fashion, and that he was amenable to an MOU with the District concerning EPA's responsibility as well as recognition of its past wrongs.
Chair Schwartz asked about the usefulness of full service line replacement. Mr. Capacasa indicated that EPA is still being updated on the issues that the WASA Board is reviewing. He said that EPA expects a 7% annual replacement schedule and that the consent order does not require that the 7% schedule be increased. Chair Schwartz asked if the consent order only speaks to service lines in public space. Mr. Capacasa responded that the only requirement is to replace lines in public space but that the consent order does recommend that WASA explore financing options that could assist homeowners in the replacement of private lines.
Chair Schwartz asked whether EPA has researched what other jurisdictions had done related to the lead in water issue, as she had requested at the May 26, 2004 hearing. Ms. Binetti responded that some information had been gathered but that EPA's research had not been completed. She said that New York City does not claim control of service lines and thus does not replace them. She said that in Boston, Massachusetts, the customer is also required to replace lead service lines. In addition Madison, Wisconsin requires that owners replace service lines at their own expense.
Chair Schwartz asked whether there are any liability issues related to service line replacements. Ms. Binetti said she did not know of any. Chair Schwartz asked if lead levels have been lowered in any service lines that have been replaced in other jurisdictions. Ms. Binetti said that immediately after they are replaced there has been a spike in lead levels but over time the lead levels have decreased. She said that it has been found valuable to flush the lines after service line replacements. Chair Schwartz then asked whether there were any other concerns related to the treatment changes in water of which the Committee needed to be made aware. Mr. Capacasa and Ms. Binetti said that there were none at this point.
Summary of WASA Testimony
Jerry N. Johnson, General Manager of WASA, and Michael Marcotte, WASA Deputy General Manager and Chief Engineer, testified on behalf of WASA. Mr. Johnson provided an update to the Committee regarding WASA's recent activities with respect to the lead in water matter. He indicated that between February 4, 2004 and June 16, 2004, WASA responded to 65,212 customer calls and e-mails. He said that most calls were related to test results, eligibility requirements for filters and general information. Mr. Johnson said that 36,471 requests for test kits have been received and that 18,991 kits have been used by customers to collect samples and have been returned for analysis. He said that they have completed analysis of 17,676 customer samples collected from February 2004 through June 11, 2004, and that the data from all pipe material categories remains consistent with earlier results.
Mr. Johnson said that WASA is providing filters and replacement cartridges to households that have been identified as having a lead service line and also to those, regardless of pipe material, that have a second draw sample test result that exceeds 15 ppb. He said that the total number of filters delivered to customers to date is approximately 27,900, with 4,421 filters scheduled for delivery by June 25, 2004. Mr. Johnson said that the partial application of orthophosphate on June 1, 2004 by the Washington Aqueduct to a small area of the District in the northwest quadrant, specifically the WASA distribution system's Fourth High Pressure Zone, has proceeded smoothly with respect to any customer complaints regarding negative temporary effects. He added that once the TEWG completes its analysis of the demonstration in the Fourth High Pressure Zone and the Washington Aqueduct is prepared to move forward with an EPA-approved plan, WASA will again lead the effort to inform residents of the next phase of system-wide application of orthophosphate.
Mr. Johnson mentioned that Chair Schwartz frequently noted the critical importance of taking the right steps to improve WASA's relationship with customers and the public. On that point, he said that the District of Columbia's Office of the Inspector General (OIG) issued its final report on the Audit of Residential Customer Billing for Water Usage and the Customer Complaint Process, and concluded that WASA's bills are accurate and its meters accurately measure consumption.
Mr. Johnson also summarized an announcement that WASA had made earlier in the day that was based on their commitment to understand, serve and respond to the needs of its customers and to reach out to improve relationships with all of its stakeholders. He indicated that several weeks ago, EPA asked that WASA respond to what EPA believed appeared to be instances in which WASA may have not fully complied with the Lead and Copper Rule. He said that as EPA's review moved forward, focusing on the minimal regulatory requirements that are numbers driven rather than people driven, it became very clear that even the positive steps it may yield would not be sufficient to help rebuild trust in WASA and the federal authorities who regulate WASA and the Washington Aqueduct. Under the settlement agreement that WASA had reached with EPA, WASA has agreed to take many steps that were underway or already planned, such as committing to submit timely reports to EPA and use required language in public education materials, submitting plans to EPA for a public education program, encouraging homeowners to submit lead sample tests (particularly those who have had partial service line replacements), continuing WASA's priority replacement program and encouraging service line replacements by homeowners. He said that in reaching a settlement agreement with EPA on the next phase of the Lead Service Replacement Program, WASA is very pleased to bring a time consuming and backward-looking review process to a close.
Chair Schwartz asked Mr. Johnson for his opinion on the consent agreement that had been reached earlier in the day with WASA. Mr. Johnson said that it was an agreement that WASA and EPA had reached, not an order, and that it was written as such on the document.
Chair Schwartz expressed her satisfaction with the many public forums and community meetings that WASA has attended and the press releases that it has issued on this matter. Mr. Johnson informed Chair Schwartz that a video had been produced by WASA and that more than 45 community meetings have been held. Chair Schwartz asked who provides water analysis for WASA. Mr. Marcotte said that the Washington Aqueduct and some private companies who specialize in water testing provide this analysis and that EPA has approved the protocol for water tests. Chair Schwartz asked how many service lines had been replaced to date. Mr. Johnson said that 800 service lines had been replaced. Chair Schwartz asked whether the public had requested assistance with the replacement of private lines, and Mr. Marcotte said that hundreds of residents have called but that decisions on the replacement of these lines are done on a priority basis. Mr. Johnson said that homeowners would be best served by reducing lead- based paint in their homes.
In response to a question from Chair Schwartz, Mr. Johnson said that the WASA Board is considering the cost of replacement of lines on private space and that a final decision would be published in the D.C. Register. Chair Schwartz asked when the Board would vote on the resolution to replace all lead service lines in public space by 2010. Mr. Johnson said that the current resolution uses that date but that the WASA management and Board are examining these timelines.
Chair Schwartz asked whether the report by the law firm of Covington and Burling on WASA's activities in this matter had been completed. Mr. Johnson responded that it would be presented to the WASA Board in July and then would be shared with the Committee. Chair Schwartz then asked for an update on the WASA flushing program and Mr. Johnson responded that this program would continue through the fall, when the workers shift to winter emergency pipe repairs.
Mr. Marcotte mentioned in response to a previous question asked by Chair Schwartz that WASA has been unable to identify any community that pays for the replacement of private water service lines. Chair Schwartz thanked Mr. Marcotte for his response and said that the WASA research clearly differs from the information provided by Dr. Maas in his prior testimony to the Committee. Mr. Marcotte mentioned that some jurisdictions do provide assistance with loans.
Mr. Johnson concluded his remarks by pledging to District residents operational and communication improvements consistent with what WASA believes its customers expect and what he said were well beyond what EPA calls for in its regulations and its agreement with WASA. He outlined the components of WASA's Community Water Pledge to WASA customers:
Mr. Johnson mentioned that to accomplish its Community Water Pledge, WASA had retained the services of Edelman Public Relations and Maya Communications as well as other resources, and were using expert resources rather than opinion to measure communication effectiveness in a quantitative manner.
Chair Schwartz thanked Mr. Johnson for his testimony and for the
acknowledgement that WASA can and will do better in the future. She
said that she was pleased that WASA is committed to working with its
customers and with peers in other jurisdictions to assist them if they
experience similar problems with their water. Chair Schwartz said that
there are lessons to be learned from the District's experiences here
and that we should share what we have learned. Mr. Johnson pledged to
share what WASA has learned in this matter with others.
Summary of Washington Aqueduct Testimony
Thomas P. Jacobus, General Manager of the Washington Aqueduct, Baltimore District, and Mr. Lloyd Stowe, Chief of Plant Operations, Washington Aqueduct, testified that all water treatment decisions had been done in coordination and compliance with EPA and WASA. He said that the Aqueduct and WASA are working in partnership to address the lead in water issue and are very confident that the change in water treatment would be a success.
Chair Schwartz asked about the change in timelines for the chemical changes in water. Mr. Jacobus said that the treatment team was planning to move forward as carefully as possible yet with all deliberate speed. He said the chemical change will coat the water pipes and thus limit corrosion in the water lines. Mr. Jacobus said the new chemical being used is a corrosion inhibitor and that his experience with phosphoric acid and caustic soda in other jurisdictions has worked well. He said that the Aqueduct is installing equipment to allow them to expand the program citywide, and that the full city program will occur by August 9, 2004. Mr. Jacobus said that the treatment team's desire to start earlier was restricted by issues related to procuring the necessary equipment.
Summary of July 8, 2004 Public Oversight Hearing
The tenth public oversight hearing on the issue of lead in water was convened by Councilmember Carol Schwartz, Chair of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, on July 8, 2004. Chair Schwartz mentioned that the Council would be going into its summer recess shortly but that the Committee would hold additional hearings on this matter in the fall, when the Council reconvenes. She said that since this issue broke on January 30, 2004, the Committee has heard over 50 hours of testimony. Chair Schwartz referred to the Interagency Task Force that she and Mayor Williams created in order to bring the agencies directly affected by this matter together, and that this Task Force was very helpful in coordinating the distribution of water filters, neighborhood informational meetings and frequent press briefings, among other things. She mentioned the partial water change that took place in the District on June 1, using orthophosphate instead of chloramines to reduce the corrosivity of the water. Chair Schwartz said that she will be asking for more updates and other pertinent information on this matter from the various agencies present at this hearing.
Summary of EPA Testimony
Jon M. Capacasa, Director of the Water Protection Division of EPA's Region III, and Rick Rogers, Chief of EPA Region III's Drinking Water Branch, testified on behalf of EPA. Mr. Capacasa updated the Committee on the activities that are being undertaken by EPA to address the lead in water issue. He said that the partial system application of the orthophosphate corrosion control treatment process has been ongoing in a portion of Northwest Washington for nearly six weeks without incident, that there have been no known customer complaints of discolored water and that water testing reported to EPA by WASA and the Aqueduct show no unexpected problems. He said that the potential for red water to occur still remains but that the experts had advised EPA that it was more likely to happen within the first four to six weeks of treatment if it were to occur. Mr. Capacasa said that lead levels in the partial system application area continue to remain elevated as they are in other sections of the District, and that corrosion experts have advised the TEWG that the drop in lead concentrations may not be seen for six months or longer. He said that if no irresolvable issues are found during the partial system application of treatment, the approved plan calls for full system application of the orthophosphate treatment as soon as feasible. He stated that the Aqueduct reported last month that the current projection is for the start of the full system application on or about August 9, 2004, that the Aqueduct reported to EPA this week that this date is still achievable and that the Aqueduct had begun installation of the chemical feed equipment at both of their treatment plants. He reminded the Committee and the public that lower lead levels are not expected from this treatment for at least six months and that the public should continue to flush lines and use water filters until they are advised that these measures are no longer needed.
Mr. Capacasa said that EPA is continuing to evaluate the potential impacts of the water treatment changes on wastewater treatment facilities. He said that EPA and its contractors are evaluating both the selected treatment chemical, orthophosphate, as well as the main alternative, zinc orthophosphate, and that pipe loop studies and research on both chemicals are proceeding. Mr. Capacasa said that initial findings are that increase in operating costs to remove the increased amount of phosphorous will be experienced at both WASA's Blue Plains treatment plant and Arlington County's wastewater facilities. He said that in case there is a need to change the corrosion inhibitor to zinc orthophosphate, EPA is continuing to work with Arlington County to determine that their wastewater treatment facility can effectively handle the increased zinc concentrations prior to making any change.
Mr. Capacasa stated that EPA entered into an Administrative Order on Consent with WASA on June 17, 2004 to address past violations of the Lead and Copper Rule, and that EPA is in the process of monitoring compliance with the Order. He said that EPA is currently reviewing the revised sample site collection criteria required by July 1, and that the most recent lead and copper compliance testing results show that, once again, the 90th percentile action level for lead was exceeded with a value of 59 ppb.
Mr. Capacasa testified that four Navy installations under the Naval District Washington (NDW) obtain their water from WASA and have been determined by EPA to be "consecutive" public water systems and are regulated separately from WASA. He said that results for these facilities from the most recent six month sampling period that ended June 30, 2004 showed that two of theses facilities, the Navy Yard and the Nebraska Avenue Complex, have exceeded the lead action level with 90th percentile results of 19 ppb and 25 ppb, respectively. Mr. Capacasa said that NDW reports that there are no lead service lines at these installations, so the potential sources of this lead are probably plumbing fixtures and solder. He said that NDW informed EPA that there are relatively few residential premises among its tenant at the four locations. He stated that two of these residences at the Navy Yard had water lead levels of 19 and 113 ppb, and that NDW has installed water filters at those locations and will be maintaining them for the residents.
Chair Schwartz told Mr. Capacasa that she was glad to see that EPA was already monitoring compliance with the Consent Order reached with WASA, and she asked what kind of consent order EPA was thinking of doing with respect to its own role in the lead in water matter. Mr. Capacasa said that the compliance order is a two-party agreement and that there are things under the order that EPA must do. He said that EPA had adopted a new operating procedure regarding this sort of situation that calls for involving different people and additional resources. He said that Donald Welch, EPA's Region III Administrator, provided extensive testimony to Congress about EPA's role here and what could have been done better. Chair Schwartz asked Mr. Capacasa if he share those internal procedures with the Committee and he said that he would. Chair Schwartz said that she would like to have some sort of agreement, either formally or informally, putting EPA on the hook. Chair Schwartz said that WASA is beginning to rebuild credibility and that EPA's credibility also got damaged. She said that she is willing to work with EPA on such a document. Mr. Capacasa agreed and said that he would work on an MOU and assured Chair Schwartz that there have been lessons learned.
Summary of DOH Testimony
Thomas Calhoun, M.D., Interim Senior Deputy Director of the Emergency Health and Medical Services Administration, DOH, testified on behalf of DOH. He was joined by Dr. Robert Hamilton of DOH and Gregory Hope from the Environmental Health Department. Dr. Calhoun stated that as of today, 6,712 individuals have been screened for elevated blood lead levels and that 2,414 of these individuals were within the target population. Of these individuals within the target population, two women who are nursing to found to have high lead levels (one was found on retesting not to have an elevated blood lead level), no pregnant women had high lead levels and 59 children under the age of six had elevated blood lead levels. Of the total number of people outside of the target population, 12 children between the ages of six and fifteen had elevated levels and 4 adults had elevated blood lead levels. Of the 59 children under the age of six with elevated blood lead levels, 18 of them lived in homes with lead service lines. Dr. Calhoun stated that DOH found that each time they identified a child with an elevated blood lead level, lead dust and soil at their home exceed Housing and Urban Development and EPA guidelines after an environmental assessment was done, with the exception of one child. Dr. Calhoun said that DOH has completed the blood lead level testing at 32 schools in the District with elevated lead levels in water fountains and/or sinks. He said that DOH was able to screen 1,016 students at these schools.
Dr. Calhoun also provided written information on the effects of zinc orthophosphate and phosphoric acid in humans, as requested by Chair Schwartz at the last hearing (See Appendix B). Chair Schwartz asked whether DOH has conducted any research on orthophosphate and Mr. Hope responded that it had. He said that there is a concern about orthophosphate with respect to skin contact, inhalation and swallowing, but that the risk to District residents is low because of the low concentrations being used.
Summary of Washington Aqueduct Testimony
Lloyd D. Stowe, Chief of Plant Operations at the Washington Aqueduct, testified on behalf of General Manager Thomas P. Jacobus. Mr. Stowe testified that there are no major developments since the last hearing and that things are going well with the chemical change in the drinking water. He said that there have been no complaints about red water and that the full system implementation is still on track for August 9. He said that there are two major components to this change -- the chemical systems being online and formal approval. Regarding the technical aspect of this, Mr. Stowe says that construction work is ongoing. He said that the Aqueduct needs formal approval from the Technical Expert Working Group (TEWG) and from EPA to change the optimal control corrosion treatment. Mr. Stowe said that there have been no complaints by residents surrounding the Fort Reno facility regarding construction.
Summary of WASA Testimony
Jerry Johnson, General Manager of WASA, testified that WASA has responded to 66,304 customer calls and e-mails since the beginning of February. He said that WASA's lead Command Center reports that it has received and distributed 36,909 test kits and that about 19,000 of these test kits have been returned to WASA for analysis. Mr. Johnson said that WASA has analyzed and processed 18,433 customer water samples this year. He said that, as of July 1, WASA has distributed 32,341 water filters and continues to provide theses filters automatically to homeowners who participate in the sampling program and whose test results exceed the EPA action level on the second draw. Mr. Johnson added that the General Electric Corporation has donated 12,500 water filters to the lead service program, joining PUR and Brita, who made earlier donations.
Mr. Johnson stated that WASA had not received any customer calls to date regarding the appearance of red water, a potential side effect of the use of orthophosphate, and that upon EPA's approval, the Aqueduct plans to apply orthophosphate system-wide next month. He said that WASA plans to work with the Aqueduct and EPA to inform the public about this chemical change through the media, WASA's customer newsletter, direct mail to every address and participation in community meetings.
Mr. Johnson stated that the two most significant developments over the last few weeks was the approval of two resolutions by the WASA Board of Directors on July 1. In the first resolution, the Board voted to physically replace all of the District's lead service lines in public space by September 30, 2010. Mr. Johnson said that, consistent with WASA's Community Water Pledge, it will inform residents of this lead service line replacement by communicating clearly and in advance to help minimize and disruption and inconvenience. Part of this effort will involve contacting customers scheduled for replacement individually by letter, placing a door hanger on homeowners' doors and contacting customers who are part of the replacement program at intervals of 45 days, 7 days and 48 hours before construction.
Mr. Johnson said that the other policy action taken by the Board was to approve a resolution to ratify the Consent Order executed by WASA and EPA in mid-May. He said that, in doing so, the Board also expressed in the clearest terms its disappointment in EPA's failure "to conduct routine and basic oversight of [WASA] from 1998 until the Compliance Audit commenced," on or about February 8, 2004. He said that the Board further noted that EPA failed to "provide timely notice of any deficiencies in [WASA's] Lead and Copper Rule program, including its sampling program, public education program reporting forms and time frames for reporting" and "EPA had approved several of the matters deemed to be in noncompliance and for other areas of noncompliance WASA had sought and received guidance from EPA and proceeded on a course of action with EPA's active consultation." Mr. Johnson said that this action by the Board is a further sign that WASA seeks to rebuild customer and public confidence in it.
At the end of WASA's testimony, Chair Schwartz bid farewell to Michael Marcotte, WASA Chief Engineer and Deputy General Manager, who has been appointed to a new position at head of the Department of Public Works in Houston, Texas. Chair Schwartz said that, after initial communications problem with Mr. Marcotte, she found him very hands-on and accessible to public, and said that he showed concern as this matter progressed. Mr. Marcotte said that he appreciated the opportunity to work with Chair Schwartz and to appear before the Committee and that the District wouldn't be where it is today in terms of remedying this situation without Chair Schwartz's leadership. Mr. Johnson concurred with Mr. Marcotte and also thanked Chair Schwartz for her leadership on this issue. Mr. Johnson also introduced John T. Dunn, Interim Chief Engineer and Deputy General Manager, as Mr. Marcotte's replacement.
Summary of September 22, 2004 Public Oversight Hearing
The eleventh public oversight hearing on the issue of lead in water was convened by Councilmember Carol Schwartz, Chair of the Committee on Public Works and the Environment, on September 22, 2004. Chair Schwartz mentioned that the Council had just returned from recess and that, during the recess, the Committee had continued its special investigation into WASA's handling of the lead in water matter. She said that at the last hearing, she had discussed the fact that the funding that had been granted by the Council for the Committee's investigation would end on July 15, 2004. Chair Schwartz said that she was pleased to report that, although the Council had authorized $50,000 for the Committee's special investigation, the Committee only spent a total of $13,000 on outside consulting fees and $533.41 in travel fees for expert witnesses, thus returning almost $36,466.59 in unused funds to the Council on July 15, 2004. Chair Schwartz said that the rest of the work on this investigation is being conducted in-house by Committee staff and that the Committee would issue a report on the investigation late this fall.
Chair Schwartz stated that at the last hearing, she had discussed the need for a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with WASA regarding their errors in this matter and that she thought that EPA should do an MOU also. With respect to these MOUs, Chair Schwartz said that "I think it's important for WASA to admit what they did wrong and what they will do better in the future." She said that she wanted to see an MOU from EPA because EPA did not perform well here either. She stated that she had recently talked with Thomas Voltaggio of EPA about this MOU, and that Mr. Voltaggio said that EPA was working on it and should have some result on this by mid-October.
Chair Schwartz mentioned that a significant event took place since the last hearing on this matter. Specifically, on August 23, 2004, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers introduced the chemical orthophosphate to the District's drinking water in order to reduce high lead levels. Chair Schwartz said that she would be asking for updates from the affected agencies and other pertinent information.
Public Witness Testimony
Christopher Hawthorne, President of AFGE Local 872 and Commissioner of ANC, expressed his opinion on WASA's lead service line replacement program and other WASA issues. He said that EPA and WASA had approved a new chemical for use in the District's drinking water, orthophosphate, but that no one has the real answer yet to the reason why lead levels have increased. He stated his concern that the amounts of orthophosphate being applied to the District's drinking water is far more than that used in food or beverages. Mr. Hawthorne said that most of the District's water mains are iron and he was concerned that the orthophosphate could chip away at the rust in these pipes.
Mr. Hawthorne also told Chair Schwartz that for years he has asked her for her help in addressing certain matters with WASA management, which he said Chair Schwartz had always done. He said that at oversight hearings in 2003, the issue was water meters and that now it is lead service lines. Mr. Hawthorne said that the replacement of these lines used to be performed by bargaining-unit employees, but that these services are currently being contracted out by WASA and that WASA is wasting millions of dollars on these contractors who do not perform adequate work.
Chair Schwartz responded to Mr. Hawthorne that she knows he has come to every single hearing that the Committee has on the lead in drinking water issue and on other WASA issues and that, in some instances, he makes the same complaint. She explained that he had to understand that as oversight chair, she does not run WASA. She said that even the Mayor does not run WASA – that it is a quasi-independent agency, run by a Board of Directors that is appointed by the Mayor. She said that she does follow up on the issues that Mr. Hawthorne has raised and that, since the lead service replacement program will be ongoing for a number of years, she has repeatedly encouraged WASA to consider having its own in-house employees perform much of the work that is now being contracted out.
Summary of Office of Inspector General Testimony
Austin A. Andersen, Interim Inspector General, William J. DiVello, Assistant Inspector General for Audits, and Cheryl Ferrara, Deputy Assistant Inspector General for Audits, testified on behalf of the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) regarding the audit it performed on the elevated levels of lead in the District's drinking water (See Appendix M). Mr. Andersen stated that the audit was initiated at the request of Chair Schwartz, Mayor Williams and Councilmember Fenty. He said that in order to adequately address the concerns raised in the requests, it was decided that OIG would conduct two separate audits related to the lead content of District tap water. He stated that although the audits complement each other, they have different objectives. Chair Schwartz said that she appreciated the fact that OIG took the requests from her, the Mayor and Councilmember Fenty and divided them into two audits.
Mr. Andersen said that the first audit focused on management and performance issues and the second audit was intended to independently test the accuracy of WASA's lead-level reports. Regarding the audit of technical tests of District's tap water, OIG's request for quotations resulted in only one bidder because many of the potential bidders conduct business with WASA and lack independence or the appearance of independence from WASA. In a second issuance of the Request for Quotation (RFQ), the OIG Chief of Contracts identified at least 5 potential bidders that seem to be sufficiently independent and capable of performing the work, and OIG is awaiting responses to their request to the second RFQ.
Mr. Andersen said that he would be discussing the results of first audit, which had a draft report containing 9 findings and 12 recommendations. The report concluded that WASA's current initiatives to address elevated lead concentrations in the District's tap water are noteworthy but that past management actions taken by WASA officials in response to levels of elevated lead contaminants shows that WASA could have been better prepared to deal with the issues. Specifically, improvements can be made to better ensure the safety and health of residents and the timely and accurate reporting to regulatory and oversight officials.
The first finding of OIG's audit was that WASA had not developed or maintained internal policies or procedures for implementing the requirements set forth in the national Primary Drinking Water Regulations or the Lead and Copper Rule. Specifically, WASA needed to document procedures on (1) how to select, take and report lead water sample test results (2) who to contact, internally or externally, about water sample test results (3) what information is to be provided to EPA, DOH and District residents and other stakeholders and (4) how the information is to be relayed. WASA officials stated that they have recently issued a standard operating procedure that identified the responsibilities of WASA's Water Quality Division in the event District water exceeded the action level. OIG believes that this is a positive step.
The OIG audit's second finding was that WASA did not have a documented program that identified its methodology to select, replace or substitute residences participating in its annual monitoring efforts. At the start of the next required monitoring period (January 1, 2005) and each reporting period thereafter, WASA will submit its plan for conducting the sampling, as required by 40 CFR § 141.86, to EPA. The third finding was that there were discrepancies between the water sample results reported to EPA and the water sample results analyzed by the Washington Aqueduct for WASA's annual monitoring efforts. Specifically, OIG identified that WASA did not: (1) submit the results of all water sample tests, which during one monitoring period would have caused WASA to exceed the lead action level; (2) take the required number of water sample tests for one monitoring period; and (3) timely report water sample test results to EPA. OIG said that WASA has agreed to adhere to EPA's reporting requirements.
The fourth finding of the audit is that OIG's review of data contained in WASA's Customer Information System (CIS) found that information regarding the composition of customer service lines was inaccurate or incomplete. WASA officials agreed with OIG's conclusions and added that the CIS was not created or originally designed to contain information on the content of customer service lines but rather was initially to be used to complete billing and customer contact information. OIG said that WASA officials have stated that the CIS is continuously updated and that WASA is also undertaking some test dig-ups where test results suggest the presence of a lead service line and is now developing an appropriate plan to identify and prioritize service line replacement using information in its CIS as well as other sources of data.
Findings five through seven of the OIG audit include the conclusion that WASA did not have a documented Lead Service Replacement Program prior to exceeding the established lead action level in FY 2002. Further, WASA's FY 2003 lead service line replacement efforts did not effectively use available data to prioritize and replace lead service lines. WASA officials stated that due to limited time to meet reporting and testing requirements, the number of actual lines replaced was less than expected and replacements were not always based on assigned priority levels. WASA officials say they have refined their process for lead service line replacements being conducted in FY 2004 and scheduled for 2005 to address the highest lead levels and the most vulnerable populations in areas where replacement is most efficient.
Finding eight of the OIG audit is that the letters originally sent by WASA to customers did not contain all of the required elements, nor were they clear, concise and specifically written in a manner that would convey a sense of urgency. Most importantly, the letters should have identified the population at risk or otherwise vulnerable and the potential adverse health effects resulting from the violation. OIG said that since exceeding the lead action level, WASA has conducted over 35,000 tests of water samples to monitor the concentration of lead in District homes, has shipped filters to every residence believed to have a lead service line pipe and sent out over 300,000 letters in English and Spanish with information to every known address in the District on the subject of lead in the drinking water. Finding nine of the audit is that WASA did not timely notify DOH regarding the issue of lead in the District's drinking water, and did not provide an open channel of communication with DOH for reporting the results of water testing.
Summary of DOH Testimony
Lynette Stokes, Ph.D., Environmental Health Epidemiologist, Dr. Thomas Calhoun, Interim Senior Deputy Director of the Emergency Health Medical Service Administration, Dr. Walter Faggett, Interim Chief Medical Officer, and Gregory Hope, Chief of the Water Quality Control Branch, Bureau of Environmental Quality, testified on behalf of DOH. Dr. Stokes said that as of the date of the hearing, 6,801 individuals have been screened for elevated blood lead levels. In the target population of 2,492 individuals, 2,318, or 93.2%, are children under the age of six. There were a total of 96, or 3.9%, women who are pregnant and 78, or 3.1%, women who are nursing. Dr. Stokes said that DOH has completed the blood lead level testing at 32 public schools in the District with elevated lead levels in water fountains and/or sinks. DOH's records as of July 20, 2004 indicated that DOH screened 1,098 individuals in the schools. Of those individuals, 232, or 21.6%, were under the age of six, 812, or 74.7%, were children aged six to fifteen, and 37, or 3.7%, were over age fifteen. She said that among the 32 schools tested, results showed five individuals with elevated blood lead levels.
Dr. Stokes testified that between February 3, 2004 and July 20, 2004, there were 64, or 2.8%, of children under the age of six with elevated blood lead levels (10 mcg/dl or higher). She said that one of those children is from Maryland and attends a District daycare facility. Of those children with elevated blood lead levels, 19 have lead service lines. She said that, additionally, it is important to note that all children with elevated blood lead levels (with the exception of one residence) have shown lead dust and /or soil levels that exceeded EPA and HUD guidelines. She said that DOH has relayed blood lead level results to parent, guardians and school officials, including nurses and administrators.
Dr. Stokes stated that since the last hearing, an additional 35 environmental assessments have been completed. She said that, at Chair Schwartz's request, DOH was also providing additional information on its new LeadTrax Surveillance system. The new system will enhance the computerized database created by DOH in 1999. Dr. Stokes said that DOH's ability to respond to similar situations in the future will be enhanced by the use of LeadTrax. The system is comprised of various components and modules that facilitate numerous functions including: direct submission and storage of laboratory blood lead data; monitoring and surveillance for case management of elevated blood lead levels; one-step reporting for summary and aggregate level analysis; and recording of lead dust/soil sample results. The laboratory component allows the system to import blood lead data into the LeadTrax database, correct errors, search for previously submitted records and review information that is "grouped" or "batched' together. The tracking component can search for the name of a child, review, modify and enter screening data, generate reports, record site visits and dust/soil levels and document contacts with family and physicians.
Dr. Stokes reiterated that DOH blood lead data revealed that none of the 201 persons tested who lived in homes with the highest measure levels of lead in the drinking water (less than 300 ppb) had elevated blood lead levels.
Summary of EPA Testimony
Shawn Garvin, District of Columbia Liaison, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region III, testified on behalf of EPA. Mr. Garvin said that there is no higher priority for EPA than to continue to work with the District and other partners to protect those who live and work in the District and to identify and correct the cause of elevated lead in the drinking water. He then updated the Committee on the status of the system-wide orthophosphate treatment.
Mr. Garvin said that orthophosphate has been applied at both the Dalecarlia and McMillan water treatment plants since August 23, 2004. The Aqueduct scaled up to the initial target dose over a two-week period to ensure that they could maintain the proper pH level. He said that the Aqueduct reported that the equipment is all functioning without a problem and that visits by EPA's Region III staff confirmed that work is well underway on the installation of permanent orthophosphate treatment facilities at both treatment plants.
Mr. Garvin testified that several customer complaints have been reported to WASA since the system-wide treatment. He said that in one instance, WASA reported that its customer service staff collected samples of discolored water. WASA reported that it flushed the water mains in this area and the discolored water dissipated. Early testing shows that results similar to those seen during the 4th High Pressure Zone partial system application are being seen at sampling sites in the District's distribution system and that slightly elevated levels of heterotrophic plate count bacteria (HPC) and iron are being detected. He said that these results are not surprising because orthophosphate can liberate rust from the inside of the pipes.
Mr. Garvin said that WASA's monitoring plan remains under development with EPA and that WASA's revised plan is due to be submitted to EPA today. He said that once an acceptable plan is received, EPA will give tentative approval, with final approval pending comments from the independent peer review panel of experts organized by EPA's Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water. Mr. Garvin said that the Aqueduct and their engineering consultant continue to build a set of flow-through pipe loops at the Dalecarlia treatment plant, and that these loops will be used to test various treatment dosages and will also compare orthophosphate to zinc orthophosphate effectiveness in reducing lead levels. He said that EPA is committed to working with Arlington County, Virginia to assess their possibility of receiving wastewater with added zinc.
Mr. Garvin said that EPA remains committed to exploring, in a holistic fashion, what the best configuration of treatment should be at the Aqueduct treatment plants and what WASA's best management practices should be for its distribution system. On August 30 and 31, 2004, Region III hosted a meeting of treatment experts who began outlining data and research needed to develop a research study plan for the Aqueduct and WASA. He said that the research plan will be targeted to first identify, in detail, present operating conditions. This information will then advise the utilities and EPA on what mid- to long-term research should be done to identify optimal future treatment configurations at the treatment plants and to identify the optimal distribution system management strategies based on current and expected regulatory requirements.
Mr. Garvin then spoke about the Consent Order that was signed on June 17, 2004, directing WASA to submit a number of plans to improve compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule (See Attachment K). He said that, thus far, WASA has met all deadlines for submitting plans and reports. He said that at the end of September, WASA will be completing some public education activities and replacement of 7% of lead service lines and submitting reports on those activities. WASA has also begun offering financing options for private lead line replacement.
Mr. Garvin said that EPA continues to seek expert opinion on the Lead and Copper Rule, its requirements and overall implementation of the regulation. He stated that EPA held national public workshops in May and September, with another scheduled for October, and that additional workshops are planned but are yet to be scheduled. He said that two workshops were held in May of this year in St. Louis, Missouri, and that the first workshop covered the topic of simultaneous compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule and other regulations, and the second covered the topic of sample collection and monitoring strategies. The third workshop, held in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 14 and 15, 2004, focused on the public education aspects of the regulation and drinking water risk communication. A fourth workshop is now scheduled for October 26 and 27, 2004, in Atlanta, Georgia, and will focus on lead service line replacement aspects of the Rule.
Mr. Garvin said that EPA is attempting to schedule a workshop on the topic of lead in schools sometime in November of this year and that the last workshop, currently slated for December, will cover the topic of health effects of lead in drinking water. Mr. Garvin stated that in addition to the national efforts, EPA has participated in approximately 12 to 14 public meetings on the lead issue in the District. Four of those meetings were to specifically provide information on the addition of orthophosphate to the drinking water. He said that EPA has also participated in at least eight District of Columbia Council Public Works and the Environment hearings and a number of Congressional hearings.
Mr. Garvin concluded by saying that by working closely with the District, EPA's public service partners and concerned citizens, EPA will continue to aggressively act to protect residents and resolve the lead problem. He said that EPA is taking action to hasten the day when the citizens of the District can once again be confident in the safety of their drinking water.
Summary of WASA Testimony
Jerry Johnson, General Manager of WASA, testified that WASA has responded to 68,530 customer calls and e-mails since February 2004. He said that WASA's Lead Command Center reports that it has received and distributed 37,779 test kits and that approximately 20,609 test kits have been returned to WASA for analysis. Mr. Johnson stated that WASA has analyzed and processed 19,444 customer water samples this year and that the first and second draw sample test results remain consistent across all pipe materials with respect to lead level concentrations. He said that WASA has distributed 33,350 water filters and continues to provide these filters automatically to homeowners who participate in the sampling program and whose test results exceed on the second draw the EPA action level of 15 ppb.
Mr. Johnson said that, as reported to the Committee in July, WASA's partnerships with Wachovia and with the District of Columbia Housing and Community Development (DCHCD) resulted in those organizations establishing independent programs to support income eligible property owners who wish to remove the private portion of their lead service lines. Wachovia is providing low-interest loans and DCHCD is providing grants to qualified homeowners. Mr. Johnson said that WASA is taking steps to publicize these programs by including information in materials provided to owners where WASA is removing publicly maintained service lines. He stated that WASA has included this information in its customer newsletter and will continue to take steps to increase participation by District homeowners in the replacement program.
Mr. Johnson said that WASA continues to work hard to address the issues associated with lead service lines. He stated that as of September 17, 2004, WASA had replaced 1,582 lead service lines in public space and that, by today, WASA projects that it will have exceeded the required 1,615 replacements required by the Lead and Copper Rule for the current reporting period, with a total of 1,632 replacements to date. Mr. Johnson said that he predicts that WASA will have completed 1,725 lead service line replacements in public space by October 1, 2004.
Mr. Johnson further said that relatively few private property owners have elected to have the portion of the service line of which they are responsible removed in conjunction with WASA's work in the public space. In 2003, 14 property owners participated, that another 15 have been completed this year and that 11 homeowners have committed to have a service line replaced. Mr. Johnson said that WASA plans to undertake in excess of 2,500 physical replacements in the coming year. He stated that WASA understands that this project will inevitably create some measure of inconvenience, but that WASA is committed to working with its customers and other residents to minimize the potential disruption to normal routines.
Mr. Johnson said that WASA is nearing the award of contracts for the 2005 service line replacement program and that these contracts will include specific addresses where replacements will be scheduled. Consistent with WASA's Community Water Pledge, WASA is working to meet the expectations of its customers in communicating clearly and in advance to help them understand what to expect and how to prepare. In addition to issuing a calendar of planned replacements by block, WASA plans to: (1) contact customers scheduled for replacement individually by letter; (2) place a door hangar on homeowners' doors; (3) contact customers who are part of the replacement program at three intervals, specifically, 45 days, 7 days and 48 hours before construction; (4) participate in or host community meetings in advance of construction; and (5) provide a contact name and number for questions and complaints.
Mr. Johnson said that WASA is continuing the traditional system-wide flushing program that was accelerated to coincide with and support the Aqueduct's application of orthophosphate to the District's drinking water. With respect to public notice, WASA coordinated its communications on this plan with the Aqueduct, DOH and EPA. He said that WASA also initiated a direct-mail campaign covering every address in the District, provided training to its customer service representatives in preparation for the change and included a WASA contact telephone number for customers who needed additional information. Mr. Johnson stated that the joint outreach effort included community meetings as well as a press briefing hosted by EPA on the plans for initiating the Aqueduct's system-wide application of orthophosphates. Most importantly, WASA was pleased to report that it has received very few reports from residents of red water, the most common side effect of the introduction of orthophosphate into the treatment process.
Mr. Johnson stated that WASA is the subject of litigation that seeks very significant damages on a claim focused on the exceedance of the lead action level and that, although he could not publicly discuss the case, he said that the potential harm to WASA's ratepayers that would result from an adverse decision in this case is a serious matter. He said that he was pleased to report that the court recently dismissed a claim by the plaintiff for injunctive relief and that this was a good sign.
Mr. Johnson said that the Office of the Inspector General, at Chair Schwartz's and the Mayor's separate requests, initiated a special review of actions by WASA in response to elevated lead levels in the District's drinking water. He said that WASA worked very hard to cooperate with the OIG, and that he understood that the OIG will be preparing a draft report in the near future for WASA's comment. Mr. Johnson said that WASA also commissioned its own independent investigation of this matter, the "Holder Report," and that the WASA board has undertaken a comprehensive review of the report's recommendations' potential impact on agency administration and operations.
Mr. Johnson also mentioned a partnership that WASA has established with the George Washington University School of Public Health. He said that it is a partnership unlike any other of which he is aware in the United States, and that they would be jointly hosting a national peer workshop on October 12 and 13, 2004. Mr. Johnson said that this workshop will focus on understanding the intent of the Lead and Copper Rule, the actual impact of the regulation and understanding the management of pubic perceptions of the Rule and health risks.
Summary of Washington Aqueduct Testimony
Thomas Jacobus, General Manager of the Washington Aqueduct, confirmed that orthophosphate was added to the District's entire water supply on August 23, 2004. He said that the Aqueduct initially started with a lower dose of orthophosphate and ramped it up over the past few weeks to a full dose, and that the full dose of orthophosphate is currently 3mg/l throughout entire distribution area, which is the Aqueduct's target level. Mr. Jacobus said that the Aqueduct has experienced no problems in-house with its equipment in this regard, and that in working with WASA in the distribution system, the Aqueduct has not had any significant events such as red water.
Chair Schwartz said that she noticed in EPA's testimony that they had several complaints about reddish water. Mr. Jacobus said that he was aware of a few complaints of red water but that all the complaints are localized and there has been no system-wide problem of any rust shedding off in the District, Arlington County, Virginia or Falls Church, Virginia sections of the Aqueduct distribution system. He stated that all of the individual complaints have been looked at. Mr. Jacobus said that the flushing program is being watched in conjunction with the adding of the orthophosphate and that he is satisfied with the entire program so far.
Chair Schwartz asked if it is too early to tell if the lead level treatment scheme is working so far. Mr. Jacobus said that the treatment process to optimize corrosion control is working fine at this time, but that lead levels are not decreasing yet. He further stated that he did not expect the lead levels to decrease so soon after the system-wide addition of the orthophosphate, but that the treatment system is working as expected. He said that in the next few months, WASA will be monitoring for lead levels and that the Aqueduct is installing a series of pipe loops at the Dalecarlia plant to analyze changes in water chemistry and lead level. He stated that the Aqueduct will be getting information soon and will certainly keep the Committee apprised of any information. Chair Schwartz said that she hates to ask but she wanted to know what would happen if the treatment plan was not successful. Mr. Jacobus said that it is a matter of science and chemistry and that he expected the treatment plan to work.
IV. SUMMARY OF THE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS OF WASA AND SURROUNDING JURISDICTIONS
1. The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA)
The District of Columbia is the owner of the most advanced water treatment facility in the United States of America, the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant. "The Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant is the largest advanced wastewater treatment plant in the world, with a capacity of 370 million gallons per day, a peak capacity of 1.076 billion gallons per day and covering 150 acres," according to WASA's website.151 Pursuant to the Blue Plains Intermunicipal Agreement of 1985, the District provides wastewater collection and treatment services to the citizens of the District of Columbia, the counties of Prince Georges and Montgomery in the State of Maryland, the Town of Vienna and the Counties of Fairfax and Loudoun in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and to various agencies of the United States Government. Pursuant to the federal Clean Water Act, the District is the National Pollution Discharge Elimination Systems Permit holder for the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant. The District holds title to the Blue Plains physical plant and premises, all real property, personality, appurtenances, fixtures, and other property at the Blue Plains Wastewater Treatment Plant. Such ownership right was recognized by the signatories to the 1985 Blue Plains Intermunicipal Agreement. From 1938 to 1996, the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Utility Administration was part of the DC Government.
In 1996, D.C. Law 11-111, the "Water and Sewer Authority Establishment and Department of Public Works Reorganization Act of 1996," became law. The purpose of this law was to establish a financially independent Water and Sewer Authority to facilitate the adequate delivery of water to the District of Columbia and sewer system services to the District of Columbia and portions of the Metropolitan Washington area, to delegate Council authority to issue bonds to the Authority, to dedicate water and sewer revenues to the Authority, to transfer the functions of the Water and Sewer Administration, Department of Public Works to the Authority and to abolish the Water and Sewer Administration which had previously managed the District's water and sewer operations.
WASA is governed by a Board of Directors comprised of 11 members, of which 6 members shall be appointed by the Mayor with the approval of the Council of the District of Columbia, and no more than 4 of whom may be District government employees or officials and 5 of whom are recommended by the other participating jurisdictions and appointed by the Mayor. The law provides that these 5 Board members shall only participate in decisions directly affecting joint-use sewerage facilities and not participate in setting District water rates. Because WASA's finances are no longer tied to the District's overall budget, all funds paid to the Authority are reinvested into operations and capital improvements. The Council's oversight of the operations of the water authority is under the domain of the Council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment.A. Background of WSSC
Established in 1918, due to complaints by District of Columbia residents of waste running in their streams, the Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission was created by the Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties. The mission of the utility is to provide sage and reliable water, life's most precious resource, and return clean water to the environment, all in a financially reasonable manner. Throughout its existence, WSSC has acquired small community systems, some run by municipalities like Hyattsville, Maryland and others privately operated by land companies such as those in Chevy Chase and Edgemoor, Maryland. Additionally, the WSSC built a one million gallon rapid sand filtration plant in Hyattsville in 1920. Currently, WSSC serves the residents and businesses of Montgomery and Prince Georges Counties in Maryland.
The Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission consists of 3 Commissioners from Prince Georges County and 3 Commissioners from Montgomery County. All members are appointed by their respective County Executive with confirmation by each County Council. The Commissioners' responsibilities include setting consumer rates, creating and implementing policies that the utility shall be governed by, and assuring strict compliance with state and federal monitoring regulations. Similar to WASA and its Board of Directors, the WSSC commissioners prepare and submit a budget (including operating/capital improvements) to the County Executives of Montgomery and Prince George's counties. However, in contrast to the quasi-independent WASA, the County Council of the county may approve or disapprove of the utility's proposed budget. If the County Councils fail to approve the budgets on or before June 1 of each year, then the proposed budgets are adopted.
3. Falls Church, Virginia Utilities Organization
The Public Utilities Division is responsible for the overall operation and maintenance of the Falls Church, Virginia water distribution system, with a maximum pumping capacity of 45 million gallons per day (MGD), and the sanitary sewer collection system, with a maximum discharge of 2 MGD. The utility consists of a central pumping station operation, where staff monitors and controls the water system facilities, as well as office staff who do the planning engineering and construction functions for the water system.
The goal of the Falls Church utility is to deliver high quality drinking water and sanitary sewer services to its customers at competitive rates, to ensure sufficient and uninterrupted water supply, and to upgrade the water and sewer systems capacities to meet future demands. Currently, the utility provides drinking water and fire protection to approximately 130,000 people -- 92% of the customers live outside the City. The Division also provides sanitary sewer service to approximately 10,000 people, with the majority (90%) residing in the City.152
In direct contrast to WASA, the Falls Church utility is organized as a department within the County government. The County Manager oversees the Director of the Public Utilities Division, who is appointed by the County Board. The Director of the department determines the necessary budget for the year. Overall, the budget is approved by the County Board members, who are elected by the citizens. The Falls Church model of governance is similar to the former WASA governance structure as well as the Arlington County Water and Sewer Division. Of special note is the difference in population served by WASA -- 572,000 in the District of Columbia, and over 1.6 million in Maryland and Virginia.
Additionally, the Falls Church distribution system consists of approximately 470 miles of water mains from 6 to 42 inches in diameter, with about 3,500 fire hydrants, ten (10) storage facilities and eight (8) pumping stations. The sanitary sewer collection system consists of approximately 46 miles of pipe from 6 inch to 21 inch diameter, and about 1,000 manholes.153 In contrast, the District of Columbia has 1,300 miles of water lines and 1,800 miles of sewer lines. Also, WASA has 8 storage tanks, which store 52 million gallons of water.154
5. THE COMMITTEE'S FINAL RECOMMENDATIONS ON THE STRUCTURE OF THE WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY
The Committee finds that the current structure of the Water and Sewer Authority is sufficient to provide quality retail water and wastewater service to the District of Columbia, as well as wholesale wastewater treatment services to Montgomery and Prince Georges counties in Maryland and Virginia. However, due to the lack of proper notification regarding the increased levels of lead in some District residents' tap water, beyond the regular public oversight hearings, the Committee will hold a public hearing on the Annual Lead Report issued by WASA. This public hearing will serve as increased oversight over WASA and as a public update on lead line replacement and the overall progress of the lead in the water issue.
6. ASSESSMENT OF THE PUBLIC NOTIFICATION PROGRAM AND FAILURES IN ACCOUNTABILITY
In all, the Committee recognizes that there have been several reports discussing WASA's lack of adequate notification of the 2003 exceedance of the Lead and Copper action level of 15 parts per billion (ppb). In an attempt to limit the amount of repetitive information, the Committee's assessment of WASA's public notification will briefly summarize its findings.
On January 31, 2004, city officials as well as residents learned of the increased levels of lead in some residents' drinking water. According to facts now stipulated in the public record, in 2003, WASA tested drinking water in 6,118 homes in the District of Columbia and found that drinking water in 4,075 (or two-thirds) exceeded the 15 parts per billion (ppb) regulatory trigger requiring public disclosure and removal of lead service lines. WASA also found that 2,287 of these homes had lead levels that exceeded 50 ppb and 157 of these homes had lead levels that exceeded 300 ppb.155
According to the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Lead and Copper Rule, the 2003 exceedance of the action level of 15 parts per billion should have triggered public disclosure of complete sampling results, follow-up sampling or lead line replacement. At the Committee's February 4, 2004 hearing on the issue, it was revealed that WASA sent out erroneous information to the residents and the District government (See Appendix D.)
On February 11, 2004, Chair Schwartz and Mayor Williams established an Interagency Task Force composed of interested government agencies. One of the stated missions of the Task Force was to ensure that the public had timely and uniform information as it became available to city officials. On April 22, 2004, the Task Force issued its final report and recommendations on the issue. Among the recommendations was a suggestion that WASA improve its overall communications with the District of Columbia government, the general public and EPA (See Appendix E.)
In the EPA's report entitled Recommendations for Improving the Washington D.C. Water and Sewer Authority Lead in Drinking Water Public Education Program, the EPA identified four shortcomings in WASA's public education program: (1) WASA failed to communicate a sense of urgency in its outreach efforts (print/broadcast materials), verbal communication with the public or other means; (2) WASA failed to adequately convey information to the intended audience due to ineffective materials, overly technical language, lack of attention to targeting populations of concern and other factors; (3) WASA did not provide for sufficient involvement of the affected public in development of a communications strategy; and (4) WASA lacked sufficient tracking or measures to determine success of outreach efforts.156
Overall, the Committee finds that WASA's public notification program was wholly inadequate to: (1) comply with the EPA-promulgated rules of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR); (2) effectively communicate with interested governmental agencies such as DOH, the District Public School System and EPA; (3) effectively communicate with the residents of the District of Columbia regarding the severity of the situation; and (4) effectively emphasize a detailed course of action to remedy the situation.
7. CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATIONS
In conclusion, after eleven public hearings beginning on February 4, 2004 and continuing through September 22, 2004, and after many hours of related public testimony (including medical and technical experts from around the country), the Committee holds both the Water and Sewer Authority and EPA (as administrator of the Safe Drinking Water Program) responsible for the District's lead-in-water crisis. The Committee finds that this crisis could have been minimized if EPA had properly exercised its oversight over WASA, and if WASA had been appropriately forthcoming with information it had on lead in some residents' drinking water. At the Committee's April 19, 2004 public hearing, Chair Schwartz stated, "As our overseers, I certainly do not hold EPA harmless for this problem." Additionally, Chair Schwartz has repeatedly and strongly criticized WASA for being deceptive about the lead in the water issue.
The Committee notes that within the last few months, WASA has taken steps to regain the public trust and to develop new system protocols to ensure that this crisis will not occur in the future. It was especially pleased that WASA convened a two-day national workshop in October with the George Washington University on "Lead in Drinking Water: The DC Experience." In addition, the Mayor is to be commended for his new appointments (with their technical expertise) to the WASA Board of Directors, which the Council has approved.
The Committee is aware that the District is not the only jurisdiction with a lead-in-the-water problem. As referenced in an October 14, 2004 article in the Washington Post, "Federal prosecutors, environmental officials and state regulators are investigating whether several water utilities across the country have broken criminal or environmental laws by misrepresenting the lead levels in their drinking water ... In addition, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is reviewing the validity of lead testing reports across the country. EPA and state regulators are investigating whether to order some utilities to take quick steps to protect public health, including those in New York City, Detroit, Portland, Oregon, and some northern New Jersey communities."
The crisis in the District has lead to a better working relationship between relevant District and federal agencies that the Committee hopes will continue, and not just during emergencies. Certainly this experience has alerted Congress of the need for tighter regulations, and certainly EPA must know that there is a need for stronger oversight.
Even though the District is unfortunately now a poster child for problems with lead in drinking water, the Committee hopes that other jurisdictions facing similar challenges can benefit from the District's experience and from both the successes and the shortcomings of its response.
The Committee on Public Works and the Environment, while not concluding its oversight of the conduct and management of WASA concerning the lead-in-water matter and the Lead Service Replacement Program, has concluded its Special Project investigation and makes the recommendations that follow:
RECOMMENDATION 1: THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA SHOULD SEEK PRIMACY OVER THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE SAFE DRINKING WATER PROGRAM
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Region 3 oversees the public water systems within our Region and is required to ensure that drinking water meets National Primary Drinking Water Standards. In general, the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) mandates a public water system to monitor drinking water for regulated contaminants to ensure that it is safe for its customers, to provide an annual drinking water quality report to its customers, and to notify them whenever there is a violation of drinking water standards.
In previous years (WASUA in 1977 and WASA in 1994), the Water and Sewer Authority has requested that primacy over administration of the program be granted to the District (See Appendix I). To obtain and maintain primacy, a State must comply with 40 CFR 141 and 142, which include, but are not limited to, the following provisions:
A grant of primacy would authorize the District government to appoint an appropriate agency to have the full force of federal law to oversee WASA and the Aqueduct in implementation of the Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). The Committee is dissatisfied with how EPA has handled primacy over the District's drinking water, and because the District is treated as a state for most other purposes, including federal transportation dollars, the Committee feels that the District should be granted primacy, just as 49 states have been. (Wyoming is the only state without primacy). The decision of which District government agency should have oversight once primacy is obtained may be made at a future date. Currently, the District's Department of Health has authority to issue nominal fines and penalties based on inadequacies with the water supply. Of the 49 states with primacy, 16 states, including Virginia, use a State Department of Health to administer the SDWA program.157 This option should be explored, as should others.
RECOMMENDATION 2: THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY SHOULD CREATE A MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING (MOU) AMONG ITSELF, THE WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY AND THE DISTRICT DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH TO ADDRESS ACTIONS RELATED TO VIOLATIONS
At the September 22 hearing, Chair Schwartz requested that EPA develop a MOU among itself, the Water and Sewer Authority and relevant government agencies to establish an active agreement of definable roles. The MOU should state EPA's intention to strengthen its oversight of the Safe Drinking Water Program, unless or until primacy is delineated to the District of Columbia. Specifically the MOU would establish agreed upon steps that EPA would take to monitor the compliance of required sampling under the Lead and Copper Rule. Further, the agreement should define EPA's plan to notify the District's Department of Health when violations occur.
RECOMMENDATION 3: THE WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY SHOULD CONTINUE WITH ITS STATED PLAN TO REPLACE ALL LEAD SERVICE LINES IN THE PUBLIC SPACE BY 2010
The Board of Directors of the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority, at its meeting on April 2, 2004, unanimously decided to adopt a policy on the replacement of lead service lines in the District. Specifically, the policy proposes to have no lead service lines in the public space portion of its water supply system. The pre-existing lead lines would be replaced with EPA approved service lines. In the future if lead service lines are discovered that were not previously identified and replaced prior to September 30, 2010, the Authority will replace the public space of that service line within 90 days of knowing of its existence. The Committee concurs with this action.
RECOMMENDATION 4: THE DISTRICT AND WASA SHOULD CONTINUE TO SEEK REIMBURSEMENT FOR COSTS INCURRED DEALING WITH THE LEAD-IN-WATER CRISIS, AND THE WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY SHOULD INVESTIGATE THE POSSIBILITY OF OBTAINING FEDERAL FUNDS TO HELP FINANCE ITS LEAD PIPE REPLACEMENT PROJECT
On March 23, 2004, Mayor Williams and Chair Schwartz sent a letter to President Bush requesting full reimbursement to the District and to WASA for the costs involved in addressing the issue of the increased lead levels in some of the District's drinking water. The letter explained that, since the apparent cause of this recent rise in lead levels was a change in the treatment chemistry of the District's water that was initiated by the Aqueduct and approved by EPA, it is unfair to make the District taxpayers bear the full financial burden of addressing this problem. Additionally, Mayor Williams and Chair Schwartz stated in this letter that the regulatory decisions of EPA, a federal agency, appear to have generated the costs involved in this matter and that, even had the actions of EPA not led to this problem, the structural imbalance the District faces due to its unique situation relative to the federal government warranted federal assistance in this matter. It was calculated that the situation of lead in some of the District's drinking water would cost the District a total of $25,824,101 this year alone in expenses related to blood testing, water testing, communications, logistics support and lead pipe replacement, and full reimbursement of this amount was requested from the federal government. The White House responded that "The US EPA is providing $11.3 million this year in State Revolving Loan Grants to WASA for lead line replacement and has created a new program with the National Nursing Centers Consortium, called Lead Safe D.C., to bring lead education information, home visits, and blood lead level testing to District neighborhoods. In addition, the US EPA Region III is working with the District and WASA to assure that certified water filters are delivered to occupants in the estimated 23,000 homes and businesses with lead service lines, placing a priority on high risk population, and to ensure the completion of additional sampling to fully identify the extent of the problem. The Administration will continue to work with you, WASA, and other agencies to resolve this problem so that the residents of the District of Columbia are provided with safe drinking water."
On April 7, 2004, Mayor Williams and Chair Schwartz sent a letter to Ruben Barrales, Deputy Assistant to the President and Director of Intergovernmental Affairs at the White House, in response to his letter of April 1, 2004 on behalf of the President clarifying the lead-in-water issue and making it clear that the $11.3 million being sent to WASA this year in State Revolving Loan Grants for lead line replacement is not earmarked specifically for lead line replacement, but rather for a host of improvements to the water system. They also wrote, "As you know, the State Revolving Loan Grants are provided to the District of Columbia on an annual basis, just as they are to other states, based on a federal formula. The resources provided in the current year are equivalent to those provided in prior years. These are not new funds provided by the federal government through the EPA for the increasing costs associated with addressing the elevated lead concentrations in water. As a consequence of the lead-in-water problem, WASA has re-allocated the State Revolving Loan Grant resources away from other important water projects in the District of Columbia, such as water main and large valve replacements and other work required to improve the reliability of water service in the Southeast quadrant of the city. Regarding the other US EPA activities mentioned in your letter, none of these involve additional resources to the city to cover expenses that WASA and the District have incurred." They continued, "In your letter, your mention of the $11.3 million in grants is simply a repeat of the standard US EPA line that we have heard over and over again in our hearings and our discussions with US EPA officials. If you ask these officials just one follow up question, you will find out it is not one nickel more than we are entitled to under the Safe Drinking Water Act and not one penny more for remediation of this lead problem."
The Committee therefore recommends that the District and WASA continue to seek reimbursement for costs incurred dealing with the lead in water issue.
RECOMMENDATION 5: THE WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY SHOULD CREATE AN EMERGENCY COMMUNICATION PLAN FOR THE PUBLIC
Due to the lack of public notification regarding the District's exceedance of the Lead and Copper Rule for sampling period 2003, WASA should create an actionable communications plan that can be immediately employed when emergencies occur within the agency. Currently, WASA sends out e-mails to select "listservs" when there are water main breaks. While this system can be helpful, those customers who are not online are left out of any such notification. It is therefore recommended that WASA utilize the consultants it has hired from the George Washington School of Public Health to aid in the creation of effective and timely means of communication with all of its customers on a regular basis, and certainly during emergencies.
RECOMMENDATION 6: THE WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY SHOULD APPOINT A PRIMARY EMPLOYEE TO ENSURE SAFE DRINKING WATER COMPLIANCE
At the Committee's public hearing on February 10, 2004, it was discovered that among the many other duties of the Water Quality Manager at WASA, one is to alert other management officials of the compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule. Currently, the Water Quality Division is poorly staffed, allowing for frequent lapses on oversight of critical programs and information. On March 4, 2004, the WASA Board of Directors asked the law firm of Covington and Burling to conduct an investigation of WASA's lead monitoring activities. Among the recommendations of the final report was that "WASA Should Assign Responsibility for Oversight of EPA Compliance to a Specific Individual in WASA's Senior Management." The Committee concurs, and further recommends that this function be given to a senior management official with expertise in environmental health and EPA regulations.
RECOMMENDATION 7: INDIVIDUALS WITH PERTINENT EXPERTISE SHOULD BE APPOINTED AS MEMBERS OF THE WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY BOARD OF DIRECTORS
On December 7, 2004, the Council of the District of Columbia passed three resolutions that would appoint alternate members to the Board of Directors. Of those members is a medical doctor with detailed experience in public health and an engineer with over 20 years experience at a public utility company specializing in infrastructures. The Committee was pleased to confirm these individuals, who were nominated by Mayor Williams, to the Board in a continuing effort to bridge the gap between expertise and practical experience and recommends that appointments of this type continue.
RECOMMENDATION 8: A DEFINED AND CONTINUAL WORKING RELATIONSHIP SHOULD BE FORMED WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
A noted fact by DOH officials, as well as WASA, was the lack of consistent communication between the two agencies. Of the communication that occurred, DOH maintains that no urgency was indicated by WASA in terms of the 2003 exceedance. Therefore, WASA should assign a member of its senior staff to maintain a regular dialogue, not just during times of crisis, with a similar counterpart within the Department of Health.
RECOMMENDATION 9: A WORK PLAN SHOULD BE FORMULATED BETWEEN WASA AND THE OFFICE OF EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT
The Interagency Task Force co-chaired by Chair Schwartz and the Mayor was successful in bringing all interested agencies to one table for a dialogue about the appropriate actions to take during the crisis. Of those agencies, the Office of Emergency Management was the most successful in coordinating the distribution of water filters and replacement cartridges, and assisting in the organization of community meetings and other related events. WASA should therefore forge a strong and continual working relationship with OEM, due in part to its state-of-the-art communications system and its proven ability to galvanize a thorough response during an emergency.
RECOMMENDATION 10: THE GENERAL MANAGER OF THE WATER AND SEWER AUTHORITY (WASA) AND THE WASA BOARD OF DIRECTORS, AS WELL AS THE MAYOR, THE COUNCIL AND THE CHIEF FINANCIAL OFFICER, SHOULD CLOSELY MONITOR LEAD LINE REPLACEMENT CONTRACTS
The District of Columbia Auditor's Report entitled, Contract Awarded by the Water and Sewer Authority was Poorly Monitored and Managed, found that WASA's general manager and officials failed to monitor the contractor properly and that, in some instances, services to be performed by one contractor were duplicated by another contractor. For these reasons, the Committee believes that the appropriate entities, the General Manager of the Water and Sewer Authority and its Board of Directors, as well as the Mayor, the Council and the Chief Financial Officer, should closely monitor lead line replacement contracts.
RECOMMENDATION 11: WASA SHOULD BRING THE LEAD LINE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM IN-HOUSE
During several of the public hearings on the lead in the water issue, Chair Schwartz questioned WASA's logic of contracting out such an extensive contract when it could be possible to use workers already employed by WASA. Chair Schwartz has repeatedly expressed concerns about the financial implications of a lengthy outside contract. Although WASA officials explained that current workers lacked the appropriate technical expertise for such a laborious job, the Committee requests that WASA explore giving its employees training so that they have the expertise needed to replace lead pipes in-house and report back to the Committee on a timeline for accomplishing this recommendation.
RECOMMENDATION 12: WASA SHOULD COORDINATE WITH THE DISTRICT DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION (DDOT) TO MINIMIZE DISRUPTION OF TRAFFIC FLOW AND COMMUNITY ACTIVITIES
Over the next year, WASA plans to replace 2,800 lead service pipes located in public space throughout the city to reduce potential exposure to lead in drinking water. WASA should coordinate its lead service line replacement program with DDOT to ensure that any such replacements are done in conjunction with scheduled repaving and construction projects. Also, DDOT is responsible for ensuring that people, goods and information move efficiently and safely throughout the District, with minimal adverse impacts on residents and the environment. In order to lessen the burden of construction on area neighborhoods, and to safely facilitate traffic disruptions such as street lane closures and sidewalk barricades, WASA must ensure that that DDOT is made aware of all scheduled replacements in advance.
RECOMMENDATION 13: WASA SHOULD CONTINUE TO PROVIDE LOW–INTEREST LOANS TO QUALIFIED RESIDENTS FOR THE LEAD PIPE REPLACEMENT PROGRAM
In keeping with a recommendation by the Interagency Task Force, WASA, in cooperation with Wachovia Bank, set up a low-interest loan program that allows financially disadvantaged residents to apply for grants from the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development to help pay for the replacement of pipes in private space. WASA should continue to participate in and promote this program.
RECOMMENDATION 14: WASA SHOULD ANNUALLY TEST DAYCARE CENTERS AND AREA SCHOOLS AND THE BOARD OF EDUCATION SHOULD ENACT A POLICY REQUIRING ANNUAL WATER LEAD LEVEL TESTING
During the lead in the water crisis, the District's Department of Health advised that the vulnerable population included pregnant women, nursing mothers and children younger than six. The District Board of Education should adopt a policy to test annually and then formulate a working plan in collaboration with WASA and EPA to test all fixtures and faucets in local schools. A similar plan should be done to ensure licensed daycare centers are also tested annually. Using EPA-approved methodology, appropriately trained staff should be devoted to performing the routine annual tests. Results of these tests should be immediately made available to the appropriate agencies for prompt action and follow-up.
RECOMMENDATION 15: WASA SHOULD ENSURE THAT INDEPENDENT TESTING OF ITS SAMPLING RESULTS ARE PERIODICALLY VERIFIED BY AN INDEPENDENT AGENCY
During the initial days of the lead crisis in the District, concerns were raised about the validity of both WASA's testing methodology and overall sampling results. In response to those concerns, on February 27, 2004, Chair Schwartz requested that the Office of the Inspector General perform an independent analysis of the levels of lead in District drinking water. The Committee recommends that WASA continue to use an independent agency to randomly sample its testing results to help regain and maintain public trust and to ensure accurate testing results.
RECOMMENDATION 16: WASA SHOULD PROVIDE THE PUBLIC WITH FREE LEAD TESTING KITS BY REQUEST ONCE A YEAR AND RESULTS OF THOSE TESTS SHOULD BE REPORTED PROMPTLY
As WASA continues its lead pipe replacement program as well as works to ensure that District drinking water is safe and to regain the public's confidence, the Committee recommends that WASA regularly provide lead testing kits once a year upon request. Although there are many companies that offer lead testing, it is important to note that EPA does not directly certify commercial laboratories for general Safe Drinking Water analyses. WASA's test results should be reported back within a reasonable amount of time. Reminders of this service should be inserted into residents' monthly bills and included in WASA publications sent to consumers.
RECOMMENDATION 17: THE RECOMMENDATION OF DC APPLESEED ON THE CREATION OF A DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AND NATURAL RESOURCES SHOULD BE THOROUGHLY CONSIDERED
DC Appleseed, in its December 2004 report, recommended that a District Department of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources be created. The purpose of this new agency would be to consolidate and administer programs that protect the environment and to conserve the natural resources of the District of Columbia. The Committee believes that this recommendation should receive careful and strong consideration.
2. United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Annual Compliance Report for Public Water Systems in the District of Columbia for Calendar Year 2002, p. 1.
4. The Centers for Disease Control recommends that all children be screened for lead poisoning yearly. Medical treatment is necessary if the blood lead level is higher than 45 micrograms per deciliter.
5. EPA, Understanding the Safe Drinking Water Act Fact Sheet, EPA 810-F-99-008, December 1999.
7. Natural Resources Defense Council, What's on Tap? Grading Drinking Water in U.S. Cities, June 2003.
10. EPA, Understanding the Safe Drinking Water Act Fact Sheet, EPA 810-F-99-008, December 1999.
11. See 56 Fed. Reg. 26460-26564. Also see the LCR Technical Amendments: 56 Fed. Reg. 32112, 57 Fed. Reg. 28785, 59 Fed. Reg. 33860.
15. EPA, Lead and Copper Rule: A Quick Reference Guide, EPA 816-F-04-009, March 2004.
19. EPA, Factoids, Drinking Water and Ground Water Statistics for 2000, EPA 816-K-01-004, June 2001.
21. Individual states could report since 2000.
22. EPA, Summary – Lead Action Level Exceedances for Systems Serving More than 50,000 People, April 28, 2004.
29. St. Paul Regional Water Services website (www.ci.stpaul.mn.us/depts.water).
36. EPA, Summary – Lead Action Level Exceedances for Systems Serving More than 50,000 People, April 28, 2004.37 Ibid.
39. Telephone Interview with Ms. Le Yin Rezzana, Minnesota Department of Health, Division of Environmental Health, Drinking Water Protection Unit, May 20, 2004.
40. Saint Paul Regional Water Services, Lead Program Overview Fact Sheet, May 2004.
41. Telephone Interview with Ms. Helga Kessler, SPRWS Public Service Manager, May 13, 2004.
42. Saint Paul Regional Water Services, Lead Program Overview Fact Sheet, May 2004.
43. Telephone Interview with Ms. Helga Kessler, SPRWS Public Service Manager, May 13, 2004.
46. Telephone Interview with Ms. Le Yin Rezzana, Minnesota Department of Health, Division of Environmental Health, Drinking Water Protection Unit, May 20, 2004.
53. Saint Paul Regional Water Services, Lead Program Overview Fact Sheet, May 2004.
54. Telephone Interview with Ms. Helga Kessler, SPRWS Public Service Manager, May 13, 2004.
56. Telephone Interview with Ms. Le Yin Rezzana, Minnesota Department of Health, Division of Environmental Health, Drinking Water Protection Unit, May 20, 2004.
57. Saint Paul Regional Water Services, Lead Program Overview Fact Sheet, May 2004.
58. There are still 17,061 lead service lines remaining in use as of 2004.
59. Telephone Interview with Ms. Helga Kessler, SPRWS Public Service Manager, May 13, 2004.
60. Saint Paul Regional Water Services, Lead Program Overview Fact Sheet, May 2004.
61. Telephone Interview with Ms. Helga Kessler, SPRWS Public Service Manager, May 13, 2004.
62. Saint Paul Regional Water Services, Lead Program Overview Fact Sheet, May 2004.
64. Telephone Interview with Ms. Le Yin Rezzana, Minnesota Department of Health, Division of Environmental Health, Drinking Water Protection Unit, May 20, 2004.
67. Saint Paul Regional Water Services, Lead Program Overview Fact Sheet, May 2004.
68. Telephone Interview with Ms. Le Yin Rezzana, Minnesota Department of Health, Division of Environmental Health, Drinking Water Protection Unit, May 20, 2004.
75. Telephone Interview with Ms. Helga Kessler, SPRWS Public Service Manager, May 13, 2004.
80. Saint Paul Regional Water Services, Lead Program Overview Fact Sheet, May 2004.
82. Telephone Interview with Ms. Le Yin Rezzana, Minnesota Department of Health, Division of Environmental Health, Drinking Water Protection Unit, May 20, 2004.
90. Telephone Interview, Mr. Philip Boissonneluop, PWD Water Quality Advisor, May 21, 2004.
95. EPA, Summary – Lead Action Level Exceedances for Systems Serving More than 50,000 People, April 28, 2004.
97. Telephone Interview, Mr. Philip Boissonneluop, PWD Water Quality Advisor, May 21, 2004.
101. Telephone Interview, Mr. Dana Ives, Maine Bureau of Health, Drinking Water Program, Lead and Copper Rule Coordinator, May 12, 2004.
104. Telephone Interview, Mr. Philip Boissonneluop, PWD Water Quality Advisor, May 21, 2004
107. Telephone Interview, Mr. Dana Ives, Maine Bureau of Health, Drinking Water Program, Lead and Copper Rule Coordinator, May 12, 2004.
109. Telephone Interview, Mr. Philip Boissonneluop, PWD Water Quality Advisor, May 21, 2004
111. Telephone Interview, Mr. Dana Ives, Maine Bureau of Health, Drinking Water Program, Lead and Copper Rule Coordinator, May 12, 2004.
115. Telephone Interview, Mr. Jonathon Yao, Director of Public Affairs, MWRA, May 13, 2004.
116. Clean Water Action, Testimony at District of Columbia Council's Committee on Public Works and the Environment Public Hearing, May 5, 2004.
119. Telephone Interview, Mr. Jonathon Yao, Director of Public Affairs, MWRA, May 13, 2004.
122. Telephone Interview, Mr. Paul Nyman, Environmental Engineer, Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), Drinking Water Section, May 20, 2004.
124. The CCR went out in May and the newspaper notices were published in the end of March.
127. Telephone Interview, Mr. Jonathon Yao, Director of Public Affairs, MWRA, May 13, 2004.
131. Telephone Interview, Mr. Jonathon Yao, Director of Public Affairs, MWRA, May 13, 2004.
135. Telephone Interview, Mr. Paul Nyman, Environmental Engineer, DEP, Drinking Water Section, May 20, 2004.
136. Telephone Interview, Mr. Jonathon Yao, Director of Public Affairs, MWRA, May 13, 2004.
147. Telephone Interview with Ms. Kathy Pouche, MWRA Water Quality Hotline staffer, May 12, 2004.
148. Telephone Interview, Mr. Jonathon Yao, Director of Public Affairs, MWRA, May 13, 2004.
149. Telephone Interview with Mr. Mike Davis, Clean Water Action Drinking Water Organizer, May 12, 2004.
150. Telephone Interview, Mr. Jonathon Yao, Director of Public Affairs, MWRA, May 13, 2004.
152. Telephone Interview with Robert J. Etris, Director of Public Utilities, City of Falls Church, December 2, 2004.
154. District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority website (dcwasa.com) General Information/Operations.
155. Lead in the District of Columbia Drinking Water: A Call for Reform, DC Appleseed Center, p. 1.
156. Ibid, p. 66.
157. Ibid, p. 45.
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