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WASA Planning Action After Report Says CDC Misled Public On Lead In Water

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By Patrick Madden

After a congressional report slammed the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention for misleading District residents about lead in the water, D.C.'s Water and Sewer Authority is planning to take a fresh look at the problem.

After hazardous levels of lead were discovered in 2004, WASA launched a campaign to replace many of the city's aging pipelines. It pulled the program two years ago because of costs and because it found ways, using chemicals, to reduce lead in the water. Now WASA is gearing up to find out which buildings still face a risk of high lead levels.

General Manager George Hawkins says the plan is to create "a profile" of the types of buildings and locations most at risk. That is, figure out which attributes point to likely higher levels of lead, such as the age of the home or the kind of pipes installed.

"We don't want to dig up all the streets in the city, we don't want to dig up systems that we don't have to," says Hawkins. "We want to be able to pinpoint the best extent we can, those places where they might be at risk."

Hawkins says WASA will then work with those customers and try to eliminate the risks.

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