Lead Free DC Newsletter Fall 2023

Making Waves

Welcome to the Lead Free DC newsletter! We're excited to share the latest updates and initiatives from our ongoing efforts to replace all lead service lines with copper pipe. Our goal is to ensure the quality and safety of drinking water in the District of Columbia.

In this issue, we highlight the progress we are making in our goal to eliminate lead pipes, and spotlight the remarkable individuals and programs that keep us moving toward a safer, lead free future. Together, we can ensure clean, accessible water and creating a healthier environment for our communities.

DC Water is committed to keeping you informed every step of the way and providing resources to help you determine if you have a lead service line.

Let's join forces and work together to make Lead Free DC a success!

Table of Contents

Jeannie Purchase Named New Lead Free DC Program Manager

Dr. Jeannie Purchase, Lead Free DC Program Manager

We are excited to introduce you to Dr. Jeannie Purchase, the new Lead Free DC Program Manager. Jeannie's dedication and passion for ensuring safe and lead free water for the residents of Washington, D.C., are evident in her extensive background and her unwavering commitment to the cause.

Jeannie's journey to her current role as the Lead Free DC Program Manager is a testament to her unique blend of practicality and idealism. She holds a Ph.D. and an engineering degree from prestigious institutions, Clemson and Virginia Tech. Her academic pursuits initially led her towards sustainability work during her undergraduate years, with a specific focus on social sustainability.

However, Jeannie found herself drawn to the field of construction, seeking answers to the question of who makes critical decisions regarding community infrastructure and how taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. Jeannie's career path eventually brought her to the water utility sector, where she has dedicated herself to making a difference.

Her entry into this sector wasn't by chance. Jeannie's involvement in a case study in Denmark, South Carolina, where a couple had endured ten years of contaminated water, propelled her into action. She tirelessly researched, advocating for the affected homeowners and proving that illegal chemicals had tainted their water supply. Her efforts resulted in a deeper understanding of water filtration systems, making her a certified water filter expert.

Jeannie's commitment to ensuring clean water access for communities in need has been her driving force. She's no stranger to challenges, particularly in connecting with the public and raising awareness about the importance of lead free water initiatives. Jeannie acknowledges that it's not just about getting people to sign up; it's about building trust and making a tangible impact, one household at a time.

One of the most rewarding aspects of her role, according to Jeannie, is when a homeowner reaches out to her for help, and she can swiftly address their concerns. Every solved issue is a victory for Jeannie, as it means one less home exposed to lead contamination.

Jeannie's work as the Lead Free DC Program Manager extends beyond her professional duties. She is passionate about advocating for positive change within the organization and bridging the gap between advocacy and utility operations. She recognizes the importance of her role in influencing decisions that can impact entire communities.

As an advocate and a pragmatist, Jeannie brings a unique perspective to DC Water. Her goal is to not only fix the existing issues but also to inspire change and build trust within the community. She believes that if her team can succeed in the nation's capital, where water-related problems are particularly complex, they can set an example for other regions to follow.

Jeannie Purchase embodies a new generation of leaders who are determined to effect change in their communities. Her journey from academia to advocacy to utility management showcases her unwavering commitment to ensuring clean and lead free water for all. As she takes on the role of the Lead Free DC Program Manager, we can expect great strides towards a safer and healthier future for the District.

Stay tuned for more insights from Jeannie in future editions of the Lead Free Newsletter as we continue to highlight the incredible work being done to eliminate lead from our water systems.

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By The Numbers

We are continuing to move towards our goal of replacing every lead service line in the District with copper! We have some impressive numbers as we start off the new year:

  • We have replaced a total of 5,060 lead service lines!
  • 1,558 of those replacements were in 2023 alone!  
  • 52 of those replacements have been in 2024 so far!
  • We reached 6857 households with our canvassing efforts in 2023 and connected with them over 86,000 times
  • We reached 1204 households with our canvassing efforts in 2024 and connected with them over 6,000 times.
  • We have secured 2,566 agreements for the Block-by-Block program in 2023.
  • We have secured 86 agreements so far for the Block-by-Block program in 2024
  • Presented at 26 ANC meetings in 2023 to share information about Lead Free DC
  • Attended over 80 community events in 2023 to share information about Lead Free DC.

DC Water has different programs for getting your lead service line replaced. If you’re interested in learning more, please visitdcwater.com/lead. When water enters the public distribution system and watermains, it is lead free. But lead can still get into tap water right before it enters the home, through service lines on your property. Lead service line replacements help keep water lead free as it travels to you. 

Help us in our goal of achieving a Lead Free DC and learn more about getting your lead service line replaced today!

To find out if you have lead service lines in your home, please search for your address using our interactive lead map: geo.dcwater.com/leadmap/.

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Florencetine Preston: A Remarkable Journey of Giving Back

In the heart of DC Water's Lead Free DC Program is a remarkable story of dedication, continuous learning, and community involvement. At 80 years of age, Florencetine Preston isn't just contributing; she's inspiring folks in her community while championing DC Water's mission to ensure safe, lead free water for the communities we serve. During a recent chat, she graciously shared her journey, role, and the immense value she adds to the LFDC Community Activator program.

Despite being the senior member among DC Water Works participants, Florencetine's involvement in Lead Free DC speaks to her deep-rooted commitment to her community. Drawing from her 25-year experience as a foster parent for children with disabilities, she was struck by their unwavering determination to succeed despite facing tough challenges. That same grit defines her work at DC Water.

Florencetine's DC Water journey started through the Department of Employment Services (DOES) Senior Program, opening doors for older adults to dive into meaningful work. Initially teaming up with Scott Perry (Senior Manager, Materials Management), her work focused on data management and analytics for five years, ensuring accuracy across various systems. She is now tasked with organizing data in a user-friendly system, sorting zip codes, and spotlighting LFDC operational zones, streamlining efforts to avoid duplicated contacts.

But Florencetine's dedication goes beyond data; it’s deeply personal. Having had lead pipes in her own home replaced by DC Water, she brings a personal touch her work. Recently, she participated in a health fair at her church, spreading awareness about the Lead Free DC program. Her enthusiasm for educating people about Lead Free DC is a testament to her ongoing commitment to making a difference within her community.

Even though she's often the most seasoned among her colleagues, age hasn't hindered their camaraderie. As with her time as a foster parent, Florencetine takes pride in mentoring and supporting young individuals, emphasizing the pivotal role of community programs in offering valuable experiences. Her advice to newcomers in these programs? 'Dive in with an open mind, ready to learn, lend a hand, and forge friendships.'

Her vision for her future with LFDC is crystal clear—'to keep contributing, learning, and leaving a positive mark.'

Florencetine's DC Water journey speaks to the perks of programs like LFDC, opening doors for people of all ages to explore new career paths, give back to their community, and foster lasting change. As Lead Free DC strides ahead, Florencetine Preston's extraordinary story stands as a symbol of commitment to community involvement, inspiring others to make a difference in their own unique ways.

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Behind the Scenes: Meet the LFDC Marketing Team

Ever wondered who's behind the Lead Free DC updates you receive? Well, wonder no more! The LFDC team plays a crucial role in delivering the essential information needed for replacing your lead service lines.

Meet the faces behind Lead Free DC!

Wanda Brown     
Lead Free DC Outreach Team     
Wanda is an Outreach and Communications Program Manager with the Lead Free DC team. She is responsible for strategy, planning, operational improvements and coordinates Outreach, Stakeholder Engagement and Communications activities within the Program. Wanda grew up in the District and attended DC Public Schools before relocating to Boston, MA to continue her education.  Wanda now lives in Northwest and enjoys traveling, theatre, the performing and visual arts as well as exploring new restaurants in the area during her free time.

Tijuana Haynes     
Lead Free DC Outreach Team     
Tijuana is a Community Outreach Manager working with the Lead Free DC team. She coordinates with her team to educate and inform communities across the District about the LFDC Program. She lives in Springdale, MD (a part of the DMV) with her husband.  Tijuana is a graphic and portrait artist, a playwright and producer who loves to create, watch movies and travel (especially in her Oculus).

Amy Kennedy     
Lead Free DC Marketing Team     
Amy is a communications specialist working for Lead Free DC. She oversees promotional efforts for LFDC, the creation of outreach materials, and research to make sure our information is clear, useful, and motivating for people to join the LFDC mission! She's a longtime Marylander and spends many weekends touring the region's playgrounds with her five-year-old.

Samantha Linnett     
Lead Free DC Marketing Team     
Samantha is a digital marketing and communications specialist working with the Lead Free DC team. She writes content for LFDC outreach materials (all those information sheets you get!) and social media posts. She lives in Southeast DC with her husband and three cats, and enjoys traveling, exploring new restaurants, and reading fantasy novels in her time off.

Diane Pratt     
Lead Free DC Outreach Team     
Diane oversees the Community Outreach Team, providing comprehensive communications and community engagement strategies for LFDC. She leads the team in developing and implementing plans for community outreach, stakeholder engagement and coordination, and media relations to help inform the public and stakeholders about LFDC, creating customer awareness of the program and obtaining homeowner consent for replacements.

Keri Shoemaker     
Lead Free DC Marketing Team     
Keri oversees the Marketing Team, providing strategic communications, marketing, content and material development, social media, research, and paid advertising services to LFDC. Keri brings strategic communications, social marketing, and public relations/crisis communications expertise to the project. She is currently guiding the team on content planning and design, writing, visual storytelling and providing development of materials for the public outreach team to use at fairs, festivals, and in canvassing and construction efforts. She finds joy in bringing innovation to strategic communications and is passionate about the environment and water quality. When she’s not working, you'll find her chasing her kids around Old Town Alexandria, VA or planning her next interior design project.

Justin Nance     
Lead Free DC Outreach Team     
Justin is the LFDC Canvassing Team Manager. He coordinates and manages the LFDC canvassers and monitors outreach and signed agreements for replacements. In his free time, he is a driver for a drag race team and enjoys being in the great outdoors.

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A Great Tool for Parents: The EPA Child Lead Testing Request Card

We all want our homes to be the safest place for our families, right? Well, we're here to help you achieve that peace of mind.

Let's talk about something critical: lead exposure, especially for our little ones. Did you know that children under six are more susceptible to its harmful effects? That is why  we're sharing a handy tip with you today: the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Child Lead Testing Request Card.

You can use this card to request lead testing for your children from your medical provider. It's a straightforward process that can make a world of difference in safeguarding your family's health.

So, don't hesitate to ask your doctor about it. Together, we can keep our community lead free and ensure those radiant smiles stay on our kids' faces!

Stay safe and keep those homes healthy!

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Interview: Community Event Highlight with Black Millennials for Flint

Below is an excerpt from an interview about the Ward 8 Community Event, held on November 4th at Busboys and Poets, conducted with LaTricea Adams, president of Black Millennials for Flint (BM4F), and Sean Moore, a communications manager specializing in Community Outreach and Stakeholder Engagement for Lead Free DC (LFDC).

The event, co-hosted by BM4F and LFDC, welcomed community leaders and members, and took place over a 2-hour workshop that allowed BM4F and LFDC to present on DC Water’s lead pipe replacement programs and answer detailed questions for event attendees.

Q: How did the connection between BM4F and LFDC happen?

LaTricea Adams (LA): We attended a community-stakeholder meeting with a lot of diverse folks in the room with DC Water. I noticed in that meeting that it was very budget-focused; there was not a lot of discourse around community stakeholder engagement, and I was like hey, we need to make sure these resources are getting to community. I was solutions oriented – I took it upon myself to say, “how can we support DC Water in making connections in the communities that are vulnerable and not tapping into this resource?”

We had done a lot of advocacy back in 2016 before replacements were free, so we were really excited about the opportunity for free [lead service line] replacements. When we reached out, DC Water was incredibly responsive – we got connected with the LFDC program and Sean and the outreach team and we immediately got into action collaborating on how we could bridge community with DC Water.

Sean Moore (SM): Once we got the referral for BM4F, we reached out and started the conversation to figure out how we could best work together. The idea for an event, which was something we were looking at already, came up as a great way to connect with the community and do more of a workshop setting (as opposed to just a presentation setting) where people could interact and ask questions.

Q: LaTricea, what made BM4F want to partner with DC Water?

LA: I felt it was super important to make sure the community had access to these resources that DC Water has, and as a community organizer, I had ideas of how we could do it. DC Water is very approachable now. The follow-through was different than it used to be and was very consistent and the coordination was phenomenal. There was nothing that I proposed where I was told “no, we can’t do that.” DC Water was very diligent in seeing what could be done internally to make [my ideas] happen.

SM: As we rolled out the outreach strategy at LFDC, stakeholder engagement has always been a major part of what we wanted to do. We want to partner with groups in the community and do non-traditional engagement. BM4F made it so we were able to do something that DC Water would not have done in the past.

LA: And DC Water invested in it to pay for the location and provide logistical support. As a community organization, we’re very under-resourced so our organization really appreciated that DC Water was amenable to provide financial and logistical support. We’ve worked all around DC and in other communities up in Maryland and other places, and the level of investment from DC Water is a big deal. Usually, we have to set up everything and the government department or agency group just shows up to present, but this whole process was very collaborative, both with logistics, letting a community stakeholder [BM4F] lead, and in developing the workshop content.

Q: What were some of the unique benefits of this event?

LA: We had really good people in the room! People who were really well connected and highly regarded in the community who attended, and who could educate and share information out to their communities on their own. They did not understand the LFDC plan – they didn’t believe that it was free, and that was the most powerful part.

We had more time - more than a 20-minute presentation, but a 2-hour span to focus on things that need more clarity and tailor the information to the people who are present and make it more meaningful. It wasn’t a lecture; it was a collaborative learning space. It was very organic. We had a fluid conversation with community members, and there were no boundaries with very nuanced questions. Plus, we had a diverse set of DC Water staff members present, answer questions, and connect with community members. People felt safe to ask what they wanted and got really good responses from the experts in the room, right in the moment. It really resonated with people.

SM: The format allowed us to have a more in-depth discussion and provide a more educational presentation, rather than a highlight top level overview. It gave us the opportunity to really explain it and the issues with lead service lines and answer specific questions.

LA: Even the location [Busboys & Poets] was really unique – it's frequently visited, but not a normal type of location for DC Water. It changed the dynamic – normal government workshops can be intimidating and sterile, but because it was directly in the community, where people already go all the time, it was phenomenal.

We have leaders in the community now who have reached out to say they want workshops in their communities, and faith-based organizations and churches who want the workshop brought to them.

Q: LaTricea, would you partner with DC Water again?

LA: Absolutely – you can’t get rid of me now! We’re really looking forward to continuing this partnership and collaboration long-term, until there are no more lead service lines that need to be replaced!

SM: This was a foundational event for us, something we can build on in terms of our community outreach. It’s the first, but far from the last. The opportunity and lessons learned has given us a format that we can see will help us to accomplish the educational and community connection piece better than any other format.

LA: I would love for other entities and agencies in DC to use this as a best practice around meaningful stakeholder and community engagement – if you truly want to make an impact on community, you have to listen to community, and this is a great example. This is a good step in the right direction.

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Become A Community Champion

DC Water's Community Champions are everyday heroes who go the extra mile to support and champion clean water initiatives in their neighborhoods. If you’re interested in learning how to become a Community Champion to help promote Lead Free DC, contact us at lead@dcwater.com.

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Stay Connected with Lead Free DC

Stay connected with us on social media for instant updates, engaging conversations, exclusive content, and event announcements. Your support on platforms like Facebook, X and Instagram plays a crucial role in our mission to create a lead free DC. Let's build a community committed to clean water and a healthier environment!

Here are some highlights from X (Twitter):

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We Want to Hear From You

Send us your thoughts and feedback on the program at lead@dcwater.com. We value your input!

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DC Water.com Lead Website

Curious to learn more about our Lead Free DC program? Visit our website at dcwater.com/lead to dive deeper into our initiatives and explore how we're working towards a lead free future.

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April 24, 2023

Monday 9:00 AM

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