Investigation Proves WASA Broke Lead Law

June 18, 2004
Order Cites Violations but Levies No Penalties

After a four-month investigation, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded that D.C. Water and Sewer Authority (WASA) violated the Safe Drinking Water Act in six categories and had detected high levels of lead in early 2001, a year before the utility notified the EPA that Washington's drinking water had unsafe lead levels, The Washington Post reported.

"This was a serious breach of the protection under the Lead and Copper Rule," Jon Capacasa, water chief for the EPA regional office that oversees the District, told the Post. "It would have triggered the action level a year earlier and started the lead line replacement and other remedies a year earlier....We are outraged that the data was not reported."

The administrative order laid out by EPA requires WASA to take numerous actions to remedy the problem. Though no fines or sanctions were levied, EPA has the right to seek penalties in court if WASA does not comply with the agreement.

The EPA could have sought to fine WASA as much as $32,500 a day for each violation. Two elected officials yesterday called the order a toothless substitute, The Washington Post reported.

Within the agreement, WASA officials did not admit to or deny violating any regulations. However, they did pledge to work above and beyond federal requirements to address concerns and restore confidence in the utility.

Source: The Washington Post