D.C.’s decade-old problem of lead in water gets new attention during Flint crisis

At a news conference in 2004, D.C. Water And Sewer Authority Deputy General Manager Mike Marcotte, left, and Chairman Glenn Gerstell answer questions about high lead levels. (Rich Lipski/The Washington Post)
By Katherine Shaver and Dana Hedgpeth March 17

The District’s water utility found itself on the defensive this week after a Virginia Tech professor who has crusaded against lead in drinking water told a congressional panel that the city’s lead problem in the early 2000s was “20 to 30 times worse” than what has occurred recently in Flint, Mich.

D.C. Water officials said that they didn’t take issue with professor Marc Edwards’s statement Tuesday to a House committee because the District is a much larger city than Flint, and the elevated levels of lead in the city’s tap water occurred over several years vs. about 18 months in Flint.

“We’ve never denied what happened in the early 2000s,” said George S. Hawkins, general manager of D.C. Water. “No question, it was a very significant problem in the District . . . . We certainly learned from it, and now we have a very advanced [lead] control system in place.”

…(read more).

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