QUESTIONS: A presentation of pressing but unaddressed concerns
surrounding the water emergency facing the District of Columbia.
send us your unanswered question,
which may be published - without your name - below.
Question for week of 3/9/04:
If there are high lead levels in an apartment
building, is the landlord responsible for providing free bottled
water? Filters? Is it sufficient to tell tenants to run
the water before drinking it?
Question for week of 3/1/04:
What about apartment
buildings? Should tenants trust landlord reassurances?
Is WASA refusing to provide test results and kits to individual
tenants of multi-unit dwellings?
Answer: In summary, find out the basis for
your landlord's assurances, and arrange your own lead testing.
Read here for a fuller answer.
Question for 2/26/04: The recent health
advisory against unfiltered tap water consumption by pregnant women
and children living in homes serviced by lead lines, would imply
that lead is leaching from pipes not only supplied by the city but
in the home's fixtures, the home's plumbing and on the property
line. Since most of the city's residents receive tap water
using some type of lead component, plumbing or lead-containing
fixture, why not urge all of the city's pregnant women, and children
under 6 years to avoid drinking the tap water. Why not free
filters or bottled water for all of this population of the entire
Answer: This failure to provide universal
health precautions is alarming and tragically fits the pattern of
city leaders and WASA officials in the course of malfeasance that
they began when they gave up the chance to disclose this problem as
long ago as 2002. In light of the D.C. Department of
Health Advisory for homes serviced by lead lines, it is best to urge
the entire population of pregnant women and children under age 6 to
avoid the consumption of unfiltered tap water. In the interest
of justice, the city should provide free filters and bottled water
to anybody who needs it.
Why the surge in lead levels? No one knows. What
is almost certain is that the lead has been leaching from lead
pipes, and or lead components like solders on copper pipes, and/or
lead fixtures in homes. The cause of the leaching is believed
to be chemicals used to treat the source water of the city's
drinking water -- the Potomac River.
How are the lead levels in the city's public
announced on February 10 that testing would begin of the city's
schools on Saturday, February 14 and results would be back in one
month's time. See results
from the February 14 tests, but note that the samples were drawn
after the water had been flushed for 10 minutes. Many experts
believe the sampling is therefore invalidated because children do
not run fountains or sinks for 10 minutes prior to consuming the
If the schools are going to be tested, then surely
the drinking water has been made inaccessible to the children or
will be until the testing period begins?
Hopefully next week this will have begun to
happen. As of February 10, water fountains are still being used in
the DCPS and have not been made inaccessible to children.
Which areas of the city have been tested? Why are
there no maps to show this?
It is unclear at this time. There has been a call
for mapping of tested areas by environmental experts. Some
maps are now available. See
Why does WASA not always tell its customers that
you can still be drinking lead-contaminated water even if you do not
have lead pipes ? Why not explicitly mention the lead soldering ?