Wednesday, August 23, 2006

WASA Gets Scolded

The D.C. Water and Sewer Authority has been cited and fined by the EPA for the dangerously high lead levels found in residences two years ago. The unsafe levels violated the Safe Drinking Water Act.

In the administrative complaint announced today, EPA seeks a $27,500 penalty for WASA’s noncompliance with data management and reporting requirements of the 2004 consent order. WASA’s noncompliance delayed EPA’s ability to confirm WASA’s report that the district’s drinking water was below EPA’s action level for lead. EPA is filing the administrative complaint to ensure the integrity of the reporting and data management for future compliance reports.

The 2004 order required WASA to sample drinking water from 100 homes that are at higher risk of lead-contaminated drinking water due to lead service lines or pipes with lead solder. According to EPA, for the July to December 2005 monitoring period, 12 of the 103 drinking water samples submitted were not taken from high-risk residences. These 12 samples were either taken from homes that never had lead service lines or homes where the lead service lines had already been replaced. Today’s penalty order notes that WASA submitted these samples despite having additional information that indicated these were not high risk residences. The order also notes other occasions when WASA reported inconsistent information to EPA regarding lead service line replacements.

EPA invalidated the 12 samples, and required WASA to obtain replacement samples. Most recent sampling data continues to show that lead levels in tap water have declined to a level at or below the EPA’s action level for lead (15 parts per billion).
The EPA has more on the lead situation here. The most recent testing period cited on that page (July to December 2005) showed that water in the District again met federal standards for safety.

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