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