Letter from EPA Regional Administrator Don Welsh to Robert C. Bobb, D.C. City Administrator/Deputy Mayor
1650 Arch Street
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19103-2029
Mr. Robert C. Bobb
City Administrator and Deputy Mayor
Government of the District of Columbia
John A. Wilson Building, Suite 310
1350 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Washington, DC 20004
Dear Mr. Bobb:
This letter provides EPA Region III's initial response to the March 17, 2004 letter which provides further details on DCWASA's Interim Actions for Lead in Drinking Water. We stand ready to meet with you and others addressing this issue in the City to clarify our comments and requests for followup action. As we continue the dialogue with the City and DCWASA we may have additional questions or items for discussion.
Distribution Plan for Point of Use Devices
We wish to acknowledge and commend the continuing work of the City Administration, working through the Emergency Management Agency and DCWASA, to ensure prompt delivery of point of use treatment devices to residents served by lead service lines as a prudent public health measure.
The schedule for initial filter distribution is within the 30-day commitment we discussed; however, more details are needed with regard to WASA's commitment to resupply or replace filter cartridges based on manufacturers' guidelines. WASA's March 10, 2004 letter made reference to this aspect, but those commitments were not restated in the most recent plan. We are requesting that a schedule and methods for replacement be specified to govern the next six months as needed.
In addition, since there will be at least three types of filters used and one will be a faucet mounted fixture, consumer guidance accompanying the filters, and the flushing protocols which are generally issued, will have to be revised to accommodate appropriate flushing instructions for the sink mounted fixture. Instructions to home owners (in multiple languages) must also reinforce that these filters are to be used following the application of the flushing protocol, and should have a phone number to contact if there are questions about proper use or replacement.
The number of lead service lines has been estimated to be just over 23,000. The March 17, 2004 letter references the 10,000 devices already obtained and an additional quantity of 12,000 devices to be available by March 31, 2004. There appears to be a shortfall to fully meet the need to supply all the residences believed to be served by lead service lines. WASA must address this point as well as what provisions have been made to supply filters to multiple residences at the same address (e.g., apartments within a residence).
The proposal for sampling and testing of non-lead service line customers is detailed and positively addresses many EPA concerns. In particular, we believe that the school sampling plan is appropriate and should be implemented as submitted, based upon the extensive discussions we have had over the preceding days. Some clarifications are necessary, however.
WASA indicates that adequate sampling of single family housing has already been completed for lead and non-lead service line situations. We agree that a significant number of homes have been voluntarily sampled, but without further information about the distribution to these residences (i.e., are they representative of all four quadrants of the District, and representing a variety of housing/building construction, etc.), and the raw data on which the data tables were based, we have to reserve our determination that this is adequate.
We believe the sampling protocol for apartments and other buildings
(non-residences) should be the same as for the schools. There are numerous
other minor clarifications needed to insure these plans can be implemented
by school and building facility maintenance staffs. We will specify these
over the next several days and will be available to review them and address
questions. In all the plans, there needs to be a Response Plan made clear
to the owners of the buildings sampled (e.g, apartments, schools, government
buildings, etc.). The EPA guidance on sampling schools and other buildings
identifies steps to be taken following receipt of samples. Such steps
need to be anticipated and specified preferably before sampling is initiated.
Enhanced Public Information Plan
WASA's 2004 Enhanced Public Education Plan for Lead includes both actions intended to meet regulatory requirements as well as supplemental actions. It appears that the WASA submittal predominantly addresses past actions, not future actions. As you are aware, we are presently conducting a study of previous practices and the best practices undertaken elsewhere, in order to provide recommendations for enhancement. Those recommendations will be provided to WASA and the City in April 2004. In the interim, we direct WASA to continue to implement the enhanced education and outreach actions and measures already identified, and the following additional actions:
The plan must address how communications will be accomplished for non-English speaking and functionally illiterate segments of the population;
The schedule of public meetings extends only through March 2004, but should anticipate future meetings, particularly considering the high demand for information and the upcoming changes proposed for water treatment;
The plan should identify how WASA will design for and get feedback on the effectiveness of its communications efforts. This would include measures such as establishing a community advisory committee, and use of customer surveys and focus groups. This may very well result in adjustments of both the message and distribution vehicles for communications, with tailoring for specific audiences and cultures;
The plan must identify timelines for specific communication messages, such as consumer advisories on flushing, how to secure replacement filters, status of lead service line replacements, water treatment or quality changes, etc.;
We do not support reissuance of the "Living Lead-Free in D.C." in its present form; it must be revised to convey an appropriate message of urgency, and the content must be corrected to reflect the modified consumer advice for reducing exposure to lead in drinking water;
The plan must include how and when (i.e., turnaround) sampling results are communicated to residents, and what they mean.
Lead Service Line Replacement Plans
We welcome the additional proposals which are under consideration by the WASA Board and the City government to find long-term solutions to the lead service line replacement need, specifically those which support the goal of full service line replacement. EPA continues to support solutions which result in the removal of the greatest feasible portion of the service lines containing lead, both to meet the regulatory requirement and to reduce the exposure pathways for the future. We also note and support the continued research into available technologies that would remediate lead service lines in the interim.
The cutting of service lines has been recently shown to present significantly elevated levels of lead in days following the activity. We are not presently aware of any lead testing data on the suggested practice of replacing at the nearest threaded joint. Physical disruption of old lines may present similar concerns. EPA will join with DCWASA and the Department of Health (DOH), starting with the planned meeting on March 22, in an expedited review of available methods for physical replacement of lines which meets the regulatory requirement while ensuring the safety of consumers.
With respect to the requested waiver of 45-day notice requirements to
residences for partial replacement of lines in connection with emergency
repairs or due to other agents discovering lead lines while excavating,
such waivers may be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, pursuant to 40 CFR
141.84(d)(1) and the preamble discussion of this provision. We will consider
the waiver request on a case-by case basis as allowed in the regulation.
With regard to the updated and revised plan submitted on March 17, EPA directs WASA to:
confirm the actual number of physical service line replacements to be
completed by the end of the current compliance period which is September
30, 2004. The March 17 letter was unclear about the numbers and time periods
for completion, leaving open to interpretation whether 1115, 1615 or 2230
line replacements would be accomplished.
identify to DC and EPA by May 14, 2004 or sooner, the primary methods to be employed by WASA and its agents for safe lead service line replacement in 2004 and beyond. These methods must satisfy the Lead and Copper Rule's minimum requirements for removal of lines in utility ownership or control, while ensuring the safety of consumers post-removal. The methods may employ special flushing or additional testing followup post-construction to ensure the safety of consumers beyond the 3-day requirement in the regulation. EPA is unable at this time to offer a waiver of the regulatory requirement relative to partial line replacements which do not cover the full portion in WASA's ownership or control.
submit the final prioritization method for the 2004 service line program by April 30, 2004, after the planned consultation with DOH. This should give greatest consideration to the most sensitive population for lead exposure and the lead service line sampling results to date.
in light of the substantial database of testing results from lead service line residences, ensure that lead service line sites that have sampled below the action level (and thus "tested out") be placed at the end of the priority list for counting for regulatory compliance purposes.
We greatly appreciate your continuing efforts to facilitate actions and agreements to address the lead in drinking water issue and offer to meet with you to discuss any of these or other items at your convenience.
Donald S. Welsh
cc: Honorable Carol Schwartz, Chair, Committee on Public Works
and the Environment
Mr. Glenn Gerstell, Chair, DCWASA Board of Directors
Mr. Jerry Johnson, General Manager, DCWASA
Mr. Ted Gordon, DC Department of Health