DC WASA Hosts Public Education Sessions During Review of Lead Water Pipe Removal Program

January 25, 2009

The District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) Board of Directors is reviewing options to continue or modify WASA’s aggressive Lead Service Replacement (LSR) Program. The program goal is to remove all known public lead water service lines in the District by 2016. (The service line is the pipe that brings water from the main in the street to the home.)

The voluntary, accelerated program was first adopted by the Board in 2004 to further reduce the risk of elevated lead levels in drinking water that were initially found in 2002 in tap water samples of some District homes. Since the program began, WASA has replaced 14,100 of the estimated 35,000 known public lead service lines in the District with copper pipe. Only 1,900 homeowners, however, have elected to replace the portion of the lead service pipe on their side of the property line.

In addition, a change in water chemistry in August 2004 has successfully reduced and controlled lead levels since 2005. Over the last three years, compliance test results of District tap water have consistently been below federal drinking water limits for lead and in compliance with Safe Drinking Water Act regulations.

A sizeable portion of WASA’s Capital Improvement Program (CIP) is earmarked for the cost of the accelerated LSR program. Through 2007, WASA spent $93 million on the LSR program, and an additional $315 million is budgeted for LSR costs between now and 2016. Consequently, a number of other projects to address needed rehabilitation and upgrades to the water and sewer distribution systems have been deferred to later years.

Faced with a continuing need to adjust priorities and redirect resources to address other critical water and sewer system issues, the WASA Board is evaluating the effectiveness, timetable and cost of the current LSR Program. Over the next several weeks, WASA will host a series of community meetings and provide information on its website to educate the public and invite discussion on the LSR program, District drinking water quality, and whether to continue or modify the aggressive and costly pace of the current LSR program. A public hearing will be held this spring.

The public is invited to attend any of several informational meetings held throughout the District. The meeting schedule is attached. For more information, please contact the WASA Office of Public Affairs at (202) 787-2200.