Ahead of Her Trip to Flint Next Month, Norton Asks for Update on Lead Levels in D.C. Water Supply

Washington, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) today released her letter to Assistant Secretary of the Army (Civil Works) Jo-Ellen Darcy and District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (DC Water) General Manager George Hawkins asking for an update on the status of lead levels in D.C.’s water supply given the ongoing lead contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan, where Norton will travel next month as part of a congressional delegation.  Norton pointed up the similarities between the lead contamination crisis in Flint and the one in D.C. during the early 2000s, and requested information on current methods for monitoring lead levels in D.C.’s water supply to assure residents that their drinking water is safe.  Earlier this month, Norton discussed D.C.’s lead contamination crisis during her questioning at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing examining the lead contamination of the drinking water in Flint.

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In her letter, Norton wrote, “Although Flint’s issues may be more severe, there are parallels between D.C.’s water contamination problems in the early 2000s and Flint’s water crisis today, not least of which is the need for added phosphates to prevent corrosion of lead pipes.  In light of the Flint water crisis hearing, and the District’s own history of water quality issues, I request that you send my office information about how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DC Water test for lead in the water supply, how often, and how monitoring is done over time.  Moreover, I would like to know if and how DC Water collaborates with the Army Corps to ensure that water leaving the Washington Aqueduct through pipes under the jurisdiction of DC Water is free of lead.  Given testimony at the Flint water hearing that the accuracy of some tests are compromised due to ‘pre-flushing’ the water to reduce the levels of lead, I would especially like to know how DC Water and the Army Corps ensure that the test results are precise.”

Norton’s full letter is below.

Jo-Ellen Darcy                                    George S. Hawkins
Assistant Secretary of the Army         General Manager
Civil Works                                         District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority
108 Army Pentagon                            5000 Overlook Ave SW
Washington, DC 20310                      Washington, DC 20032

Dear Assistant Secretary Darcy and Mr. Hawkins:

I am writing to you for an update on the status of lead levels in the District of Columbia’s water supply.  On March 4, I will be traveling with a congressional delegation to Flint, Michigan, which, as you know, is in the midst of a serious lead contamination crisis.  On February 3, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on the lead contamination of the drinking water in Flint.  During questioning, I raised the District’s own tragic lead contamination crisis in the early 2000s, where high levels of lead were found in our drinking water—at the time, some of the highest lead levels ever recorded in this country.  This contamination had serious consequences for thousands of District residents, including 42,000 children under the age of two who were potentially exposed to lead during this time, and which also correlated with a spike in the number of fetal deaths and spontaneous abortions.

Although Flint’s issues may be more severe, there are parallels between D.C.’s water contamination problems in the early 2000s and Flint’s water crisis today, not least of which is the need for added phosphates to prevent corrosion of lead pipes.  In light of the Flint water crisis hearing, and the District’s own history of water quality issues, I request that you send my office information about how the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and DC Water test for lead in the water supply, how often, and how monitoring is done over time.  Moreover, I would like to know if and how DC Water collaborates with the Army Corps to ensure that water leaving the Washington Aqueduct through pipes under the jurisdiction of DC Water is free of lead.  Given testimony at the Flint water hearing that the accuracy of some tests are compromised due to “pre-flushing” the water to reduce the levels of lead, I would especially like to know how DC Water and the Army Corps ensure that the test results are precise.

I ask for a response to my letter within 30 days.

Sincerely,

Eleanor Holmes Norton

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