AWWA Urges Lawmakers to Get the Lead Out

May 24, 2004

The American Water Works Association (AWWA) emphatically supports measures to reduce lead exposure and promote public health, AWWA Water Utility Chairman Howard Neukrug told the U.S. House Committee on Government Reform Friday during testimony regarding elevated lead levels in Washington D.C.’s drinking water.

"We believe that Congress should require a respected body such as the Centers for Disease Control to complete a comprehensive study of lead exposure from all sources, and to develop a national strategy to reduce lead exposure from all significant sources," Neukrug stated. "Such research should include a determination of the contribution to lead in drinking water from lead service lines, pipes inside the home, and plumbing fixtures."

Neukrug is director of the Office of Watersheds for the Philadelphia Water Department in Pennsylvania. Speaking before the U.S. Committee on Government Reform, he made five recommendations on behalf of AWWA:

• AWWA advocates a comprehensive national approach to reducing lead contamination from all sources. This should involve a program of research and public education concerning the sources of, dangers of, and protection against lead contamination from all sources such as paint, dust, drinking water, and others.

• AWWA advocates the use of corrosion control treatment techniques by utilities to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water.

• AWWA supports replacement of lead service lines that significantly contribute to high lead levels in the home. However, requiring a water utility to remove privately owned lead service lines is unreasonable and raises constitutional legal issues with regard to private property and eminent domain.

• AWWA advocates a "holistic" approach to the development and implementation of drinking water regulations to minimize the extent to which regulations can interfere with each other.

• AWWA proposes an independent study of drinking water lead contamination incident in Washington D.C., by a group such as the National Academy of Engineering, to determine what lessons can be learned from this incident.

Among the eight individuals also testifying during the hearing were Benjamin Grumbles, Acting Assistant Administrator for Water U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Aaron Colangelo, Esq., Project Attorney for Natural Resources Defense Council.

The complete AWWA testimony is available at:

AWWA is the largest organization of water professionals in the world. AWWA advances public health, safety and welfare by uniting the efforts of the full spectrum of the drinking water community.

Source: AWWA