WASA Cited For Past Errors in Reporting Lead Sampling Data

EPA has cited the District of Columbia Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) for violations of a Safe Drinking Water Act consent order addressing past problems with lead in the district's drinking water.

In the June 2004 consent order, WASA agreed to several measures to address elevated lead levels found in samples of tap water taken from D.C. homes with lead service lines. These safeguards included WASA's replacement of lead service lines, improvements to how WASA reported and managed drinking water and sampling data, WASA's provision of filters to residents with lead service lines, and an improved public education program.

In the administrative complaint announced on Aug. 23, 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, agency officials said.

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. The Aug. 23 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).

WASA has the right to a hearing to contest the alleged violations and proposed penalty. A copy of the June 2004 Safe Drinking Water Act consent order, the administrative complaint and other information on lead in D.C. drinking water is available at http://www.epa.gov/dclead.

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