THE REGION

Chemical Treatment of Water Begins

The Army Corps of Engineers yesterday began adding a new chemical at its two treatment plants to reduce lead levels in drinking water that goes to 1 million customers in the District and Northern Virginia.

The chemical, a widely used type of orthophosphate, is intended to coat the inside of pipes and reduce high lead levels in thousands of D.C. homes. The water delivered to Arlington, Falls Church, Vienna and part of Fairfax County also will receive the chemical.

Environmental Protection Agency officials, who approved the chemical's use, say it is safe, although it might turn water red temporarily. EPA officials say it will take six months to a year for the chemical to have a noticeable impact on lead levels.

The EPA will hold the second of two public meetings to explain the chemical treatment tonight from 6 to 8:30 at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at 901 G St. NW.

THE DISTRICT

Suspicious Device Closes G St. SW Briefly

Police and fire crews called to examine a suspicious device found at a home in Southwest Washington yesterday morning determined that it was a nonexplosive object used to hold down balloons.

Alan Etter, spokesman for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department, said the police bomb squad X-rayed the device and concluded that it was not explosive. The incident in the 600 block of G Street SW closed part of G Street for 45 minutes, Etter said.

New Medical Director for Fire, EMS

The D.C. Fire and Emergency Medical Services Department appointed a new medical director yesterday, three days after the former director was removed from his position -- a move that angered some members of the department.

Clifford H. Turen, an orthopedist who directs the Maryland Fire & Rescue Institute, will be responsible for medical care and oversight and training for emergency medical services providers. Fire and EMS Chief Adrian H. Thompson removed the former medical director, Fernando Daniels, from the job Friday. Alan Etter, the department's spokesman, would not comment on the reason.

Kenneth Lyons, head of the union representing paramedics and emergency medical technicians, criticized the removal of Daniels, saying that he had been looking into problems concerning medical care.

MARYLAND

Court Rejects Glendening-Era Raises

Maryland's highest court yesterday rejected a 2 percent pay increase that former governor Parris N. Glendening (D) approved for 27,000 state employees in the hours before he left office. A Glendening aide signed the agreement with the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees on Jan. 14, 2003, one day before the governor left office.

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. (R) refused to fund the pay raise in the budget he submitted to the legislature later that month.

The union sued to force Ehrlich to honor the deal. Yesterday's unanimous ruling upheld a lower court, which sided with the Ehrlich administration. Judge Alan M. Wilner wrote that the agreement was flawed, partly because it was not ratified by Glendening.

Man's Body Found in Potomac River

Search crews found a body in the Potomac River yesterday that is believed to be that of a 25-year-old man who disappeared Sunday night while swimming.

The man, whose identity police did not release, went underwater about 7:30 p.m. after he and others tried to swim from an island to the Maryland shore near Old Anglers Inn in Potomac, said Pete Piringer, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service spokesman.

A search began about 8 p.m., he said, but it was called off about 9:30 and resumed yesterday. Divers discovered the body about 2 p.m., officials said. Police spokesman Derek Baliles said police will release the man's name when his identity is confirmed.

Cameroonian's Fatal Shooting Protested

About 30 people gathered yesterday in front of the Montgomery County government center in Rockville to protest the death of Peter Ayompeuh Njang, 25, a Cameroonian shot and killed by a Montgomery police officer Aug. 12.

Protesters sang "We Shall Overcome" and wore T-shirts with Njang's photograph on them. The demonstration was the third since Saturday. Police have said witnesses told investigators that Njang approached Officer Candice Marchone with a utility knife, and she ordered him to drop it. He did not, and Marchone fired when he lunged toward her, police said witnesses told them.

Officials from the office of County Executive Douglas M. Duncan (D) and the police department plan to meet with Njang's family tomorrow, authorities said.

VIRGINIA

Teachers Say 'Thank You' for Funding

The Virginia Education Association is running television and radio ads to thank the public for supporting increased funding for schools during this year's legislative session.

The ads -- which feature children and teachers chorusing "thank you" -- will appear in Northern Virginia over the next two weeks. A budget deadlock in Richmond this year ended with a deal to raise taxes by $1.5 billion over two years and increase funding for the commonwealth's schools by about the same amount.

Gainesville Houses Being Built Catch Fire

Three houses under construction in Gainesville caught fire yesterday after sparks from a welding machine ignited building materials inside a wall of one house, said Capt. Tim Taylor, a Prince William County Fire and Rescue spokesman.

A breeze spread the fire, which started about 4 p.m. in the 12700 block of Crossman Creek Way, to an adjacent house and the house next to it. There were no serious injuries, Taylor said. He said builder Richmond American Homes estimated the damage at $300,000.

I-95 Near Stafford Predicted to Jam

Virginia traffic engineers say one of Northern Virginia's fastest-growing problems over the next few years will be Interstate 95 heading north from Stafford County.

The number of vehicles is increasing by more than 4 percent a year, and the road is expected to be over capacity by 2009.

"When people buy a car, they look at 20 models and they really research it. When they put their children in camp, they get one recommendation and say, 'Fine.' "

-- Robin Verity, youth and camp director at Camp Achva in Fairfax County, on the need for parents to take more care in selecting a summer camp. -- Page B1

Compiled from reports by staff writers Arielle Levin Becker, D'Vera Cohn, Rosalind S. Helderman, Matthew Mosk and David Snyder and the Associated Press.