D.C. water director says city has no current lead problem

By Tim Craig
Thursday, December 2, 2010; 11:44 AM

At a new conference Thursday morning in front of the Blue Plains Advanced Water Treatment Plant, the head of the city's water and sewer authority said the CDC report "is not new news."

George S. Hawkins, the director, said the report merely confirms previous findings that partial lead replacements, which the authority suspended in 2009, may have lead to short-time spikes in lead levels in those homes.

But Hawkins said ongoing monitoring indicates the "vast majority" of the 13,000 homes where partial lead line replacements took place have nothing to worry about.

"The notion there are 13,000 or 15,000 homes with lead is overstating the risk," Hawkins said. "We just are not finding it on our monitoring. ... We do not think there is a crisis."

But Hawkins cautioned that some individual District properties, especially those in older sections of the city, still could be at risk for elevated lead levels in the water because of a number of factors, many of which are not the responsibility of the agency.

He said the agency will continue to work with residents to identify potential problem sites and work on remedies.

"There are reasons that could still cause a problem at home," Hawkins said.

"We are not seeing it in our monitoring, but that doesn't mean it's not possible that there may be an issue in your home."

He urged residents to call 202-354-3600 to find out if they property has had a partial pipe replacement or to request information on testing.

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