Office of External Affairs
Testing Shows Significant Decline in Drinking Water Lead Levels
DC Water Continues Efforts to Minimize Lead and Advises Customers to Remove Lead Sources
Jul 18, 2016 -- Recent results from DC Water’s required lead testing program mark the lowest lead levels measured in more than a decade. Levels have continued to decline since 2004, when the water treatment process began including a corrosion control additive to reduce lead release in water. Since 2003, DC Water has replaced more than 20,000 lead service pipes on public property, representing the removal of nearly 118 miles of lead pipes that connect public water mains to household plumbing. DC Water replaces lead service pipes during water main upgrades or when customers choose to replace their portion of the service pipe on private property. DC Water reminds customers that lead sources are different in each property and urges residents to eliminate lead pipes and plumbing materials in their homes.

Drinking water is lead-free when it leaves the treatment plant and travels through the distribution system, but lead can enter the water when it flows through household lead service pipes or plumbing fixtures that contain lead.

"DC Water’s top priority is to provide clean, safe drinking water to our customers," commented Chief Executive Officer and General Manager George S. Hawkins. "The test results show that efforts to control corrosion through treatment are working. At the same time, we must remain vigilant until all sources of lead are removed.  To that end, we provide free lead test kits to help customers identify sources of lead in their homes, and help these customers learn how to minimize their lead exposure."

When samples have elevated levels of lead, DC Water offers a plumbing inspection and more extensive testing at no charge. To order a free lead test kit, customers can contact the Drinking Water Division at 202-612-3440 or email

In addition to the voluntary lead testing program, DC Water tests more than 100 homes across the city every 6 months. This testing is required by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Lead and Copper Rule and results show that measured concentrations have reached historically low levels.

The 90th percentile was 2 parts per billion (ppb) for the most recent reporting period, which means that at least 90 percent of the homes that DC Water tested for lead were 2 ppb or less. All samples were below the EPA’s action level of 15 ppb. For more information about DC Water’s voluntary and required lead testing programs, visit

Important Customer Information

DC Water’s required lead monitoring program only measures the lead level in a fraction of District households, so it is important that customers determine if there are any sources of lead in their homes. For tips on removing lead sources, download the DC Water brochure, Tips to Reduce Lead in Drinking Water (link provided below). Customers can also use DC Water’s new interactive map at to see if their home has lead service lines.

If you have any questions about lead in drinking water, please contact the Drinking Water Division at 202-612-3440 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.). All other questions or suggestions should be directed to DC Water Customer Service at 202-354-3600 (Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.) or the 24-Hour Command Center at 202-612-3400.

Related Links:
Name:    Lead service line map

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