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What's with WASA?

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  • David McIntire
    Until recently my impression of our local Water and Sewer Authority was positive. What s happened? We were part of the recent survey for lead in drinking
    Message 1 of 10 , Feb 1, 2004
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      Until recently my impression of our local Water and Sewer Authority was
      positive. What's happened?

      We were part of the recent survey for lead in drinking water. The safe level
      according to the EPA is less than 15ppm. The water in our house tested at
      55ppm. That's over 3 times the safe limit.

      That high level is not coming from pipes in the house - they're copper. The
      pipe from the meter to the house is galvanized steel, I feel confident. So
      what's the deal? Are my wife and I being poisoned by our local government
      (not to mention our dogs which come to think of it aren't too bright)?
      Sounds like the plot to a good thriller. I want Russell Crowe to play me.

      To add insult to injury we just got a WASA bill for almost $500 dollars.
      Usually they average about $80. WASA's explanation for the huge jump in the
      bill doesn't make much sense.

      Are we alone? What has been your experience?

      Dave McIntire

      Council Furious With Water Agency
      Delayed Report of High Lead Levels Prompts Calls for Review

      By David Nakamura and Neely Tucker
      Washington Post Staff Writers
      Sunday, February 1, 2004; Page C01


      Several D.C. Council members said yesterday that they were outraged that
      District leaders were not informed about lead contamination in thousands of
      city homes and called for an immediate review of the D.C. Water and Sewer
      Authority's performance.

      The city officials said they were not aware that tap water in 4,075 homes
      had tested above the federal limit for lead until they read about the tests
      in yesterday's Washington Post. WASA, which first learned of lead
      contamination problems in 2002, should have been more diligent in informing
      the public and answering questions, they said.

      "I'm furious about the fact we did not know about this," said Carol Schwartz
      (R-At Large), head of the council's Committee on Public Works and the
      Environment, which oversees aspects of the semi-independent water and sewer
      agency.

      "The only way you can solve a problem is to know that there is one," said
      council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D-At Large). "If you don't know there is a
      problem, what can you do? The city leadership ought to know. . . . We need
      to have hearings and work out a solution."

      Schwartz's committee has scheduled its annual performance review for WASA on
      Feb. 10, but Schwartz said she will try to schedule an emergency hearing
      this week.

      "I want to find out what they know, when they knew it and what they're going
      to do about it," she said.

      Tony Bullock, spokesman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), said yesterday
      that the administration probably will ask WASA and the D.C. Department of
      Health for a briefing this week. "We'll take whatever steps are necessary to
      ensure the integrity of the health of that supply system," Bullock said.
      "The sampling results are alarming, and we are going to get fully engaged in
      this matter at the earliest opportunity."

      Ellen K. Silbergeld, a professor of environmental health sciences at Johns
      Hopkins University's School of Public Health in Baltimore, said yesterday
      that the lead levels in the District are "very, very worrisome." There are
      high risks, she said, "for pregnant women, those who are nursing and
      infants. Using water for drinking, formula or even preparing food should be
      avoided."

      Studies have shown that children who ingest lead from water, paint or dust
      are at greater risk because their gastrointestinal tracts are more likely to
      absorb the lead and their developing neurological systems are more
      vulnerable to damage.

      Silbergeld recommended that worried residents test the water first before
      seeking medical exams, saying low levels of lead in children do not produce
      noticeable symptoms. She also said lead exposure in adults can lead to
      increased risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases.

      The discovery of lead in tap water has caused concern among residents in
      many D.C. neighborhoods because the city has 23,000 lead service lines that
      run through all four quadrants.

      Eric Pierotti, who runs the plumbing department at Frager's Hardware on
      Capitol Hill, said the store received many calls yesterday from people who
      wanted to take precautions. He said callers were inquiring about "water
      testing kits and filtration systems that cover everything from one tap to
      the entire house."

      WASA officials said they are uncertain why the levels of lead have spiked
      above the Environmental Protection Agency's lead limit of 15 parts per
      billion.

      Random water testing in about 50 homes flagged the lead contamination in
      2002. The EPA has specific guidelines that cities must follow when lead in
      water exceeds the limit, including informing residents of the risks
      associated with lead and replacing 7 percent of lead service lines annually.

      WASA officials said that in October 2002, they mailed an 11-page brochure
      about the dangers of lead to every customer in the city. On Page 10, one
      paragraph noted that during WASA's "last sampling program in the summer of
      2001 and June 2002, some . . . homes tested above 15 ppb." That was the only
      indication in the brochure that a problem had been discovered.

      The agency then began replacing 7 percent of its lead service lines each
      year and undertook a much larger sample -- of more than 6,000 homes -- last
      summer. That's when widespread problems were discovered.

      Glenn S. Gerstell, chairman of WASA's 11-member board of directors, said
      that WASA had mailed a letter to all 13 D.C. Council members last February
      noting that initial tests had found that the water exceeded the EPA's lead
      limit. He acknowledged, however, that the agency did not send follow-up
      letters after the larger sampling was done last summer. WASA also did not
      hold a news conference to discuss its findings.

      "Could we be more aggressive reaching out? Maybe so," Gerstell said. "That's
      something the board should look at. We're always eager to improve
      operations. But I want to negate any suggestion whatsoever we are attempting
      to minimize or downplay or sweep this under the rug."

      Any news conference, Gerstell said, "would have been an unsatisfactory news
      conference. We did not know what [the contamination] was due to
      scientifically or where it was coming from or how many homes were involved.
      We need more tests. A news conference would have raised a lot of questions
      and provided no answers at that time."

      Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) disagreed. "There's no sense of
      urgency with these guys," Fenty said. "WASA needs to be more accountable."

      Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) was one of the few council members who recalled
      hearing about the lead contamination last summer. He said he was contacted
      by several constituents who were notified by WASA that their water had high
      lead levels.

      WASA officials met with him at his office, Graham said, and reluctantly
      agreed to replace lead service lines on one street in his ward.

      "We had to hammer them to get this action," Graham said. "It wasn't
      something where they came in and said, 'Sure, no problem.' It was a very
      tough conversation. It wasn't easy."

      Tom Bryant, whose home in Northwest Washington tested as having high lead
      levels in the water, attended a community meeting in November at which WASA
      and D.C. Department of Health officials answered questions.

      "They were very forthcoming at that meeting," Bryant said. "They made a big
      effort. They had three or four people there, and they made a big slide
      presentation."

      But his neighbor, Nancy Lensen-Tomasson, whose water also showed high lead
      levels, said WASA officials told her they did not plan to replace any lead
      service lines on her block this year.

      "Not enough information has been given out," she said yesterday.

      Rebecca Epstein, who lives in American University Park and also has high
      lead levels in the water, said she fears for the health of her 5-month-old
      son. But when she told neighbors of the lead in her water, she said, "No one
      was aware of the problems."

      WASA held a public meeting in December at the Martin Luther King Jr.
      Memorial Library to discuss the lead problems. But its notice of the
      meeting, which ran on its Web site and in community newspapers, did not
      state that lead had been found in tap water.

      Georgetown resident Charles Eason, whose water tested 36 times the EPA's
      lead limit, said that he attended the meeting and that only one other
      resident was there.

      "We're often disappointed at the turnout," said Johnnie Hemphill, WASA's
      spokesman. "We took the appropriate approach at the time. It's not the case
      that we were simply being reactive."

      WASA said those with concerns should call the WASA hotline at 202-787-2732.



      © 2004 The Washington Post Company
    • ANC J. Moheyer (1-a-06)
      Dave, I had the EXACT same experience 1 year ago. How curious ....... Last February/March, I went from a $90 monthly water bill to a $500 water bill. I was
      Message 2 of 10 , Feb 1, 2004
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        Dave,
         
        I had the EXACT same experience 1 year ago.  How curious .......
         
        Last February/March,  I went from a $90 monthly water bill to a $500 water bill.  I was appalling and immediately blamed my housemates for the reckless use of water,  but they had done nothing out-of-the-ordinary.  There was NO explanation... and WASA couldn't find any underground leaks during my requested "water audit" ... so I had to pay the exhorbitant bill.
         
        Fortunately, I've never had a similar recurrence.
         
        Also ... (painful smirk)  ... I just want to mention that SO FAR I'm still winning the D.C. Water lead-content contest.  I've surpassed your lead-content by over 250 ppb. 
         
        YES,  that's right .... my lead ppb is 322.   Although I'm somewhat skeptical,  I'm not taking it lightly.   Shouldn't I be seeing CHUNKS of lead at that rate??
         
        My Best,
        Jenna

        David McIntire <mail@...> wrote:
        Until recently my impression of our local Water and Sewer Authority was
        positive. What's happened?

        We were part of the recent survey for lead in drinking water. The safe level
        according to the EPA is less than 15ppm. The water in our house tested at
        55ppm. That's over 3 times the safe limit.

        That high level is not coming from pipes in the house - they're copper. The
        pipe from the meter to the house is galvanized steel, I feel confident. So
        what's the deal? Are my wife and I being poisoned by our local government
        (not to mention our dogs which come to think of it aren't too bright)?
        Sounds like the plot to a good thriller. I want Russell Crowe to play me.

        To add insult to injury we just got a WASA bill for almost $500 dollars.
        Usually they average about $80. WASA's explanation for the huge jump in the
        bill doesn't make much sense.

        Are we alone? What has been your experience?

        Dave McIntire

        Council Furious With Water Agency
        Delayed Report of High Lead Levels Prompts Calls for Review

        By David Nakamura and Neely Tucker
        Washington Post Staff Writers
        Sunday, February 1, 2004; Page C01


        Several D.C. Council members said yesterday that they were outraged that
        District leaders were not informed about lead contamination in thousands of
        city homes and called for an immediate review of the D.C. Water and Sewer
        Authority's performance.

        The city officials said they were not aware that tap water in 4,075 homes
        had tested above the federal limit for lead until they read about the tests
        in yesterday's Washington Post. WASA, which first learned of lead
        contamination problems in 2002, should have been more diligent in informing
        the public and answering questions, they said.

        "I'm furious about the fact we did not know about this," said Carol Schwartz
        (R-At Large), head of the council's Committee on Public Works and the
        Environment, which oversees aspects of the semi-independent water and sewer
        agency.

        "The only way you can solve a problem is to know that there is one," said
        council Chairman Linda W. Cropp (D-At Large). "If you don't know there is a
        problem, what can you do? The city leadership ought to know. . . . We need
        to have hearings and work out a solution."

        Schwartz's committee has scheduled its annual performance review for WASA on
        Feb. 10, but Schwartz said she will try to schedule an emergency hearing
        this week.

        "I want to find out what they know, when they knew it and what they're going
        to do about it," she said.

        Tony Bullock, spokesman for Mayor Anthony A. Williams (D), said yesterday
        that the administration probably will ask WASA and the D.C. Department of
        Health for a briefing this week. "We'll take whatever steps are necessary to
        ensure the integrity of the health of that supply system," Bullock said.
        "The sampling results are alarming, and we are going to get fully engaged in
        this matter at the earliest opportunity."

        Ellen K. Silbergeld, a professor of environmental health sciences at Johns
        Hopkins University's School of Public Health in Baltimore, said yesterday
        that the lead levels in the District are "very, very worrisome." There are
        high risks, she said, "for pregnant women, those who are nursing and
        infants. Using water for drinking, formula or even preparing food should be
        avoided."

        Studies have shown that children who ingest lead from water, paint or dust
        are at greater risk because their gastrointestinal tracts are more likely to
        absorb the lead and their developing neurological systems are more
        vulnerable to damage.

        Silbergeld recommended that worried residents test the water first before
        seeking medical exams, saying low levels of lead in children do not produce
        noticeable symptoms. She also said lead exposure in adults can lead to
        increased risk of dying from cardiovascular diseases.

        The discovery of lead in tap water has caused concern among residents in
        many D.C. neighborhoods because the city has 23,000 lead service lines that
        run through all four quadrants.

        Eric Pierotti, who runs the plumbing department at Frager's Hardware on
        Capitol Hill, said the store received many calls yesterday from people who
        wanted to take precautions. He said callers were inquiring about "water
        testing kits and filtration systems that cover everything from one tap to
        the entire house."

        WASA officials said they are uncertain why the levels of lead have spiked
        above the Environmental Protection Agency's lead limit of 15 parts per
        billion.

        Random water testing in about 50 homes flagged the lead contamination in
        2002. The EPA has specific guidelines that cities must follow when lead in
        water exceeds the limit, including informing residents of the risks
        associated with lead and replacing 7 percent of lead service lines annually.

        WASA officials said that in October 2002, they mailed an 11-page brochure
        about the dangers of lead to every customer in the city. On Page 10, one
        paragraph noted that during WASA's "last sampling program in the summer of
        2001 and June 2002, some . . . homes tested above 15 ppb." That was the only
        indication in the brochure that a problem had been discovered.

        The agency then began replacing 7 percent of its lead service lines each
        year and undertook a much larger sample -- of more than 6,000 homes -- last
        summer. That's when widespread problems were discovered.

        Glenn S. Gerstell, chairman of WASA's 11-member board of directors, said
        that WASA had mailed a letter to all 13 D.C. Council members last February
        noting that initial tests had found that the water exceeded the EPA's lead
        limit. He acknowledged, however, that the agency did not send follow-up
        letters after the larger sampling was done last summer. WASA also did not
        hold a news conference to discuss its findings.

        "Could we be more aggressive reaching out? Maybe so," Gerstell said. "That's
        something the board should look at. We're always eager to improve
        operations. But I want to negate any suggestion whatsoever we are attempting
        to minimize or downplay or sweep this under the rug."

        Any news conference, Gerstell said, "would have been an unsatisfactory news
        conference. We did not know what [the contamination] was due to
        scientifically or where it was coming from or how many homes were involved.
        We need more tests. A news conference would have raised a lot of questions
        and provided no answers at that time."

        Council member Adrian M. Fenty (D-Ward 4) disagreed. "There's no sense of
        urgency with these guys," Fenty said. "WASA needs to be more accountable."

        Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) was one of the few council members who recalled
        hearing about the lead contamination last summer. He said he was contacted
        by several constituents who were notified by WASA that their water had high
        lead levels.

        WASA officials met with him at his office, Graham said, and reluctantly
        agreed to replace lead service lines on one street in his ward.

        "We had to hammer them to get this action," Graham said. "It wasn't
        something where they came in and said, 'Sure, no problem.' It was a very
        tough conversation. It wasn't easy."

        Tom Bryant, whose home in Northwest Washington tested as having high lead
        levels in the water, attended a community meeting in November at which WASA
        and D.C. Department of Health officials answered questions.

        "They were very forthcoming at that meeting," Bryant said. "They made a big
        effort. They had three or four people there, and they made a big slide
        presentation."

        But his neighbor, Nancy Lensen-Tomasson, whose water also showed high lead
        levels, said WASA officials told her they did not plan to replace any lead
        service lines on her block this year.

        "Not enough information has been given out," she said yesterday.

        Rebecca Epstein, who lives in American University Park and also has high
        lead levels in the water, said she fears for the health of her 5-month-old
        son. But when she told neighbors of the lead in her water, she said, "No one
        was aware of the problems."

        WASA held a public meeting in December at the Martin Luther King Jr.
        Memorial Library to discuss the lead problems. But its notice of the
        meeting, which ran on its Web site and in community newspapers, did not
        state that lead had been found in tap water.

        Georgetown resident Charles Eason, whose water tested 36 times the EPA's
        lead limit, said that he attended the meeting and that only one other
        resident was there.

        "We're often disappointed at the turnout," said Johnnie Hemphill, WASA's
        spokesman. "We took the appropriate approach at the time. It's not the case
        that we were simply being reactive."

        WASA said those with concerns should call the WASA hotline at 202-787-2732.



        � 2004 The Washington Post Company



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        > ATTACHMENT part 2 application/octet-stream name=tracker.gif?77243
      • Jack
        Jenna -- I wonder if the high level of lead in your water is due to recent disturbance of your plumbing? I don t know what that excavation in the front of your
        Message 3 of 10 , Feb 1, 2004
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          Jenna -- I wonder if the high level of lead in your water is due to
          recent disturbance of your plumbing? I don't know what that
          excavation in the front of your house is about, but perhaps this has
          to do with your plumbing, or has disturbed your pipes, releasing new
          lead. All of our houses are old enough that their plumbing, even if
          copper, used lead-containing solder.

          Here's a paragraph from EPA on the topic, noting that newer houses
          are more likely to have high lead levels than old houses -- because
          our old pipes have built up layers of mineral deposits that cover up
          the lead.

          Much of our neighborhood, by the way, built circa 1911, has lead pipe
          connections to the water mains. WASA's been tearing the place up to
          replace these lead pipes.

          -- Jack

          "Lead-contaminated drinking water is most often a problem in houses
          that are either very old or very new. Up through the early 1900's, it
          was common practice, in some areas of the country, to use lead pipes
          for interior plumbing. Also, lead piping was often used for the
          service connections that join residences to public water supplies.
          (This practice ended only recently in some localities.) Plumbing
          installed before 1930 is most likely to contain lead. Copper pipes
          have replaced lead pipes in most residential plumbing. However, the
          use of lead solder with copper pipes is widespread. Experts regard
          this lead solder as the major cause of lead contamination of
          household water in U.S. homes today. New brass faucets and fittings
          can also leach lead, even though they are "lead-free." Scientific
          data indicate that the newer the home, the greater the risk of lead
          contamination. Lead levels decrease as a building ages. This is
          because, as time passes, mineral deposits form a coating on the
          inside of the pipes (if the water is not corrosive). This coating
          insulates the water from the solder. But, during the first five years
          (before the coating forms) water is in direct contact with the lead.
          More likely than not, water in buildings less than five years old has
          high levels of lead contamination. "

          --- In columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com, "ANC J. Moheyer \(1-a-06\)"
          <anc1a06@y...> wrote:
          > Also ... (painful smirk) ... I just want to mention that SO FAR
          I'm still winning the D.C. Water lead-content contest. I've
          surpassed your lead-content by over 250 ppb.
          >
          > YES, that's right .... my lead ppb is 322. Although I'm somewhat
          skeptical, I'm not taking it lightly. Shouldn't I be seeing CHUNKS
          of lead at that rate??
          >
          > My Best,
          > Jenna
          >
          >
        • Jack
          More on lead in our water -- two significant points: (1) lead in drinking water is typically only a small part of our total lead exposure, and (2) the source
          Message 4 of 10 , Feb 1, 2004
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            More on lead in our water -- two significant points: (1) lead in
            drinking water is typically only a small part of our total lead
            exposure, and (2) the source of the lead is most frequently in our
            own houses, or the house connection to the water main.

            http://www.mit.edu/people/rjbarbal/SB0/lead.html

            Lead in Drinking Water

            Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead
            poisoning, can significantly increase a person's total lead exposure,
            particularly the exposure of infants who drink baby formulas and
            concentrated juices that are mixed with water. The EPA estimates that
            drinking water can make up 20 percent of more of a person's total
            exposure to lead.

            Lead is unusual among drinking water contaminants in that it seldom
            occurs naturally in water supplies like rivers and lakes. Lead enters
            drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion, or wearing
            away, of materials containing lead in the water distribution system
            and household plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder
            used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome-plated brass faucets, and
            in some cases, pipes made of lead that connect your house to the
            water main (service lines). In 1986, Congress banned the use of lead
            solder containing greater than 0.2 percent lead, and restricted the
            lead content of faucets, pipes, and other plumbing materials to 8.0
            percent.

            When water stands in lead pipes or plumbing systems containing lead
            for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into your drinking
            water. This means that the first water drawn from the tap in the
            morning, or later in the afternoon after returning from work or
            school, can contain fairly high levels of lead. Water from the hot
            water tap often can contain more lead and other harmful materials
            because hot water will more easily dissolve contaminants, and because
            hot water often stands for long periods of time in your water boiler
            and pipes.
          • Jeremy Grant
            I think the lead levels are less a conspiracy by the local government to poison us and more a fact of living in an old city with old infrastructure, including
            Message 5 of 10 , Feb 2, 2004
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              I think the lead levels are less a conspiracy by the local government
              to poison us and more a fact of living in an old city with old
              infrastructure, including really old pipes in the ground. Most of
              the water mains are made of lead, so it doesn't really matter what
              you have in your house, the water coming into the house is going
              through pipes made of lead.

              As us folks on the 1400 block of Monroe have learned, the city and
              WASA are gradually replacing the mains. On the bright side, this
              means that pipe which pump poison into our homes are being replaced.
              On the downside, it is not an easy or cheap task -- this project is
              dragging in to its 5th or 6th month on our little block alone. On
              the bright side, the road is so torn up right now that it makes it
              difficult for folks to speed down our street at 80mph.

              FYI, I tested my water 2 years ago when I bought the place, and came
              up with 7ppm, or about half what the EPA said is ok.

              -Jeremy




              --- In columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com, "David McIntire" <mail@i...>
              wrote:
              > Until recently my impression of our local Water and Sewer Authority
              was
              > positive. What's happened?
              >
              > We were part of the recent survey for lead in drinking water. The
              safe level
              > according to the EPA is less than 15ppm. The water in our house
              tested at
              > 55ppm. That's over 3 times the safe limit.
              >
              > That high level is not coming from pipes in the house - they're
              copper. The
              > pipe from the meter to the house is galvanized steel, I feel
              confident. So
              > what's the deal? Are my wife and I being poisoned by our local
              government
              > (not to mention our dogs which come to think of it aren't too
              bright)?
              > Sounds like the plot to a good thriller. I want Russell Crowe to
              play me.
              >
              > To add insult to injury we just got a WASA bill for almost $500
              dollars.
              > Usually they average about $80. WASA's explanation for the huge
              jump in the
              > bill doesn't make much sense.
              >
              > Are we alone? What has been your experience?
              >
              >
            • Colleen Leyrer
              Re increased water bill: My monthly bill is also close to what my quarterly used to be. I had WASA come out to make sure there was no leak from the main
              Message 6 of 10 , Feb 2, 2004
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                Re increased water bill:
                 
                My monthly bill is also close to what my quarterly used to be.  I had WASA come out to make sure there was no leak from the main pipe/meter into my house.  They said there was none.  Seems to me the way they calculate the bill now just plain increases the fee significantly.

                Jeremy Grant <genevasound@...> wrote:
                I think the lead levels are less a conspiracy by the local government
                to poison us and more a fact of living in an old city with old
                infrastructure, including really old pipes in the ground.  Most of
                the water mains are made of lead, so it doesn't really matter what
                you have in your house, the water coming into the house is going
                through pipes made of lead. 

                As us folks on the 1400 block of Monroe have learned, the city and
                WASA are gradually replacing the mains.  On the bright side, this
                means that pipe which pump poison into our homes are being replaced. 
                On the downside, it is not an easy or cheap task -- this project is
                dragging in to its 5th or 6th month on our little block alone.  On
                the bright side, the road is so torn up right now that it makes it
                difficult for folks to speed down our street at 80mph. 

                FYI, I tested my water 2 years ago when I bought the place, and came
                up with 7ppm, or about half what the EPA said is ok. 

                -Jeremy




                --- In columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com, "David McIntire" <mail@i...>
                wrote:
                > Until recently my impression of our local Water and Sewer Authority
                was
                > positive. What's happened?
                >
                > We were part of the recent survey for lead in drinking water. The
                safe level
                > according to the EPA is less than 15ppm. The water in our house
                tested at
                > 55ppm. That's over 3 times the safe limit.
                >
                > That high level is not coming from pipes in the house - they're
                copper. The
                > pipe from the meter to the house is galvanized steel, I feel
                confident. So
                > what's the deal? Are my wife and I being poisoned by our local
                government
                > (not to mention our dogs which come to think of it aren't too
                bright)?
                > Sounds like the plot to a good thriller. I want Russell Crowe to
                play me.
                >
                > To add insult to injury we just got a WASA bill for almost $500
                dollars.
                > Usually they average about $80. WASA's explanation for the huge
                jump in the
                > bill doesn't make much sense.
                >
                > Are we alone? What has been your experience?
                >
                >



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              • David McIntire
                Jack, Did you ever hear of the person who drowned in a creek that had an average water depth of 2 feet? What is typically true is not necessarily true in
                Message 7 of 10 , Feb 2, 2004
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                  Jack,

                  Did you ever hear of the person who drowned in a creek that had an average
                  water depth of 2 feet?

                  What is typically true is not necessarily true in Washington DC in this
                  latest study by WASA. For instance, I did the copper pipe in our house and I
                  did not use solder with lead in it, assuming the label was true. There is no
                  lead based paint in the house and the service line from the meter to the
                  house is not lead - it is galvanized steel. The only conclusion I can reach
                  then is that the lead at 55ppm in our house is from WASA water, not
                  something I am responsible for. Besides WASA seems to be admitting the
                  problem is theirs because they are digging up the streets to change the
                  service lines from the street to individual meters (we have been notified
                  that our house is one of those to be changed) - because they are lead. What
                  they haven't said is how many houses still have such lines.

                  Also the article you quote is about lead poisoning in individuals.
                  Individuals were not tested for lead poisoning by WASA. I wasn't addressing
                  lead poisoning in general, I was addressing lead brought to us compliments
                  of WASA to which I pay money for safe drinking water.

                  It is not clear what the article means by "lead poisoning". I doubt that I
                  would test positive for lead poisoning. But that doesn't mean the lead in
                  our household water isn't having a deleterious effect on myself.

                  The water was tested and showed in an extended survey that over 2/3 of the
                  water of households tested, tested higher than mandated maximums of 15ppm. I
                  highly doubt that the figures would be so high if the problem were lead
                  solder or lead service lines from the meter to the house. Besides it is easy
                  enough to determine if you have a lead service line. Just look where the
                  service line from the meter connects to your house plumbing. If the service
                  line is lead, there will be a big (child's fist size) glump of lead around
                  the connection - at least that is what I have observed.

                  Dave McIntire

                  ----- Original Message -----
                  From: Jack
                  To: columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com
                  Sent: Sunday, February 01, 2004 2:47 PM
                  Subject: [columbia_heights] Re: lead in water


                  More on lead in our water -- two significant points: (1) lead in
                  drinking water is typically only a small part of our total lead
                  exposure, and (2) the source of the lead is most frequently in our
                  own houses, or the house connection to the water main.

                  http://www.mit.edu/people/rjbarbal/SB0/lead.html

                  Lead in Drinking Water

                  Lead in drinking water, although rarely the sole cause of lead
                  poisoning, can significantly increase a person's total lead exposure,
                  particularly the exposure of infants who drink baby formulas and
                  concentrated juices that are mixed with water. The EPA estimates that
                  drinking water can make up 20 percent of more of a person's total
                  exposure to lead.

                  Lead is unusual among drinking water contaminants in that it seldom
                  occurs naturally in water supplies like rivers and lakes. Lead enters
                  drinking water primarily as a result of the corrosion, or wearing
                  away, of materials containing lead in the water distribution system
                  and household plumbing. These materials include lead-based solder
                  used to join copper pipe, brass and chrome-plated brass faucets, and
                  in some cases, pipes made of lead that connect your house to the
                  water main (service lines). In 1986, Congress banned the use of lead
                  solder containing greater than 0.2 percent lead, and restricted the
                  lead content of faucets, pipes, and other plumbing materials to 8.0
                  percent.

                  When water stands in lead pipes or plumbing systems containing lead
                  for several hours or more, the lead may dissolve into your drinking
                  water. This means that the first water drawn from the tap in the
                  morning, or later in the afternoon after returning from work or
                  school, can contain fairly high levels of lead. Water from the hot
                  water tap often can contain more lead and other harmful materials
                  because hot water will more easily dissolve contaminants, and because
                  hot water often stands for long periods of time in your water boiler
                  and pipes.
                • eheard1874@aol.com
                  I am not sure why we are paying so much for poison. I have not used DC water for years but many do. It is extremely expensive. Maybe there is something here
                  Message 8 of 10 , Feb 2, 2004
                  • 0 Attachment
                    I am not sure why we are paying so much for poison.  I have not used DC water for years but many do.  It is extremely expensive.  Maybe there is something here that our elected officials can do?
                     
                    Eric
                  • Jack
                    Dave -- I don t disagree with you -- the point is that the lead isn t coming from the city water source, or we would all have high lead counts, and it wouldn t
                    Message 9 of 10 , Feb 2, 2004
                    • 0 Attachment
                      Dave -- I don't disagree with you -- the point is that the lead isn't
                      coming from the city water source, or we would all have high lead
                      counts, and it wouldn't vary so greatly from house to house. One-
                      third of the houses sampled had "safe" lead levels, and those with
                      high levels were not concentrated in any one neighborhood, but were
                      scattered about the city. Lead is a local problem, not a city-wide
                      system problem, and one has to start by identifying that local
                      source, quite possibly in one's own house.

                      Why you have a high lead level I don't know. Here in ritzy Mount
                      Pleasant, almost every house has a lead line to the street. Newton,
                      Monroe, and Ingleside were torn up last summer for lead line
                      replacement. I expect them in this area this summer.

                      Thanks for the clue on how to tell if your house connection is lead
                      or not. I think ours is, and after 30 years of drinking this water,
                      maybe this explains why I've grown more crotchety every year.

                      -- Jack

                      --- In columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com, "David McIntire" <mail@i...>
                      wrote:
                      > Jack,
                      >
                      > Did you ever hear of the person who drowned in a creek that had an
                      average
                      > water depth of 2 feet?
                      >
                      > What is typically true is not necessarily true in Washington DC in
                      this
                      > latest study by WASA. For instance, I did the copper pipe in our
                      house and I
                      > did not use solder with lead in it, assuming the label was true.
                      There is no
                      > lead based paint in the house and the service line from the meter
                      to the
                      > house is not lead - it is galvanized steel. The only conclusion I
                      can reach
                      > then is that the lead at 55ppm in our house is from WASA water, not
                      > something I am responsible for. Besides WASA seems to be admitting
                      the
                      > problem is theirs because they are digging up the streets to change
                      the
                      > service lines from the street to individual meters (we have been
                      notified
                      > that our house is one of those to be changed) - because they are
                      lead. What
                      > they haven't said is how many houses still have such lines.
                      >
                      > Also the article you quote is about lead poisoning in individuals.
                      > Individuals were not tested for lead poisoning by WASA. I wasn't
                      addressing
                      > lead poisoning in general, I was addressing lead brought to us
                      compliments
                      > of WASA to which I pay money for safe drinking water.
                      >
                      > It is not clear what the article means by "lead poisoning". I doubt
                      that I
                      > would test positive for lead poisoning. But that doesn't mean the
                      lead in
                      > our household water isn't having a deleterious effect on myself.
                      >
                      > The water was tested and showed in an extended survey that over 2/3
                      of the
                      > water of households tested, tested higher than mandated maximums of
                      15ppm. I
                      > highly doubt that the figures would be so high if the problem were
                      lead
                      > solder or lead service lines from the meter to the house. Besides
                      it is easy
                      > enough to determine if you have a lead service line. Just look
                      where the
                      > service line from the meter connects to your house plumbing. If the
                      service
                      > line is lead, there will be a big (child's fist size) glump of lead
                      around
                      > the connection - at least that is what I have observed.
                      >
                      > Dave McIntire
                      >
                    • David McIntire
                      Jack, The fact that not all houses have a lead problem is not proof that the problem is not from WASA. Some the chemicals used in the water for purification
                      Message 10 of 10 , Feb 2, 2004
                      • 0 Attachment
                        Jack,

                        The fact that not all houses have a lead problem is not proof that the
                        problem is not from WASA.

                        Some the chemicals used in the water for purification might be increasing
                        lead content in water of homes that do have lead in the solder of copper
                        pipes or still have lead pipe from the meter.

                        Secondly, some (or many) of the WASA pipes that go from the water main to
                        individual house water meters are still lead. That's why they are digging up
                        streets.

                        Dave McIntire

                        ----- Original Message -----
                        From: Jack
                        To: columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com
                        Sent: Monday, February 02, 2004 11:44 AM
                        Subject: [columbia_heights] Re: lead in water


                        Dave -- I don't disagree with you -- the point is that the lead isn't
                        coming from the city water source, or we would all have high lead
                        counts, and it wouldn't vary so greatly from house to house. One-
                        third of the houses sampled had "safe" lead levels, and those with
                        high levels were not concentrated in any one neighborhood, but were
                        scattered about the city. Lead is a local problem, not a city-wide
                        system problem, and one has to start by identifying that local
                        source, quite possibly in one's own house.

                        Why you have a high lead level I don't know. Here in ritzy Mount
                        Pleasant, almost every house has a lead line to the street. Newton,
                        Monroe, and Ingleside were torn up last summer for lead line
                        replacement. I expect them in this area this summer.

                        Thanks for the clue on how to tell if your house connection is lead
                        or not. I think ours is, and after 30 years of drinking this water,
                        maybe this explains why I've grown more crotchety every year.

                        -- Jack

                        --- In columbia_heights@yahoogroups.com, "David McIntire" <mail@i...>
                        wrote:
                        > Jack,
                        >
                        > Did you ever hear of the person who drowned in a creek that had an
                        average
                        > water depth of 2 feet?
                        >
                        > What is typically true is not necessarily true in Washington DC in
                        this
                        > latest study by WASA. For instance, I did the copper pipe in our
                        house and I
                        > did not use solder with lead in it, assuming the label was true.
                        There is no
                        > lead based paint in the house and the service line from the meter
                        to the
                        > house is not lead - it is galvanized steel. The only conclusion I
                        can reach
                        > then is that the lead at 55ppm in our house is from WASA water, not
                        > something I am responsible for. Besides WASA seems to be admitting
                        the
                        > problem is theirs because they are digging up the streets to change
                        the
                        > service lines from the street to individual meters (we have been
                        notified
                        > that our house is one of those to be changed) - because they are
                        lead. What
                        > they haven't said is how many houses still have such lines.
                        >
                        > Also the article you quote is about lead poisoning in individuals.
                        > Individuals were not tested for lead poisoning by WASA. I wasn't
                        addressing
                        > lead poisoning in general, I was addressing lead brought to us
                        compliments
                        > of WASA to which I pay money for safe drinking water.
                        >
                        > It is not clear what the article means by "lead poisoning". I doubt
                        that I
                        > would test positive for lead poisoning. But that doesn't mean the
                        lead in
                        > our household water isn't having a deleterious effect on myself.
                        >
                        > The water was tested and showed in an extended survey that over 2/3
                        of the
                        > water of households tested, tested higher than mandated maximums of
                        15ppm. I
                        > highly doubt that the figures would be so high if the problem were
                        lead
                        > solder or lead service lines from the meter to the house. Besides
                        it is easy
                        > enough to determine if you have a lead service line. Just look
                        where the
                        > service line from the meter connects to your house plumbing. If the
                        service
                        > line is lead, there will be a big (child's fist size) glump of lead
                        around
                        > the connection - at least that is what I have observed.
                        >
                        > Dave McIntire
                        >




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